One of the biggest trends in national politics over the past couple of elections has been to vote based on our gut instincts and emotions rather than on our reasoning. It was the wish for “hope and change” that propelled Barack Obama into office in 2008, gut opposition to those policies that brought Republicans into office in 2010, and fear tactics that Mitt Romney would result in all sorts of terrible things that kept President Obama in office in 2012. However, we need to stop voting with our emotions, and start voting with our heads. Do we ever stop to think about who or what we are really voting for?

Take, for example, liberal policy ideas. Liberal policies are really quite appealing.  To the uninformed and misinformed, liberal policies tend to seem more than fair: they promote “equality” and “tolerance” (whatever these words are taken to mean in any given number of contexts), and they attempt to ensure that everyone prospers by “leveling the playing field.”  Yet, they hardly ever work. But why?  There has to be something besides misguided ideology that leads to such a consistent stream of poor policy-making. The answer is found in the very basis of the liberal approach to problem solving.

So what do Obamacare, the progressive tax system, immigration reform involving amnesty, and welfare programs have in common?  They avoid the problem.  Obamacare attempts to rid Americans of poor treatment by out-of-touch businessmen through the creation of a government-run bureaucracy where out-of-touch government workers rather than health professionals (or, God forbid, the people themselves) run the system instead.  In a progressive tax system, income inequality (which I have argued is a non-issue posed as the converse by the left) is combated by devaluing and over-taxing those who make the most money under the pretense that economic equality brings a greater quality of life for those in poverty.  Liberal immigration reform “solves” the problem by allowing those who have broken the law to enter the United States to stay here, and welfare programs strip motivation from impoverished people to move up in their socioeconomic status by providing them with vast government handouts.

As one can see, these policies all use some form of government intervention or regulation to address the consequences of the issue, rather than fixing the problem so that it doesn’t exist any more.  In this way, liberals approach policy from a “how can the problem be gotten rid of?” standpoint rather than the more effective “how can the problem be fixed?” position.  It is important to note the differing phraseology in these, as “how can the problem be gotten rid of?” implies a temporary solution to a more long-term problem, while the alternative, “how can the problem be fixed?” implies an attempt at a permanent fix to an issue.

But why is this important?  As long as some policy addresses an issue even in the short term, wouldn’t that be better than not having any policy change at all?  Not necessarily.  It poses a threat because liberals don’t just reform healthcare and immigration by avoiding the issue, but instead use the government to do so.  This wouldn’t be a problem if the “gradual and silent encroachments” that James Madison warned against were not making so many Americans wary of their elected officials (see the current NSA, IRS, Benghazi, and VA scandals).  With the level of obscurity surrounding the Obama Administration, secretive actions like the 34,776 pages–and counting–of government regulations written for the 828-page Dodd-Frank Act are becoming routine.

Really though, how many Americans know what Dodd-Frank says?  How many Americans have actually read the Affordable Care Act?  And therein lies the problem: we don’t know enough about what is going on within the government to trust them to protect our interests. With the miles of red tape that our current government puts around everything it touches, do we really want to trust them to protect our livelihood?  The livelihoods of our children?  Do we want to trust them to provide us with food?  Healthcare?  Fair taxation?  That’s just a not a leap I’m willing to make.

But this issue doesn’t just apply to liberals.  Conservatives have lacked greatly in solutions to liberal shortcomings, and the biggest comeback the Republican party could make would be to elect people to office who do more than just oppose Obamacare, welfare expansion, and the like. Leaders mus actually have effective policy ideas.  The U.S. needs real problem solvers, not more whiners and RINOs.  These candidates are key to winning crucial government positions for the Republican party, but that’s not their only purpose. More importantly, they are supposed to get us out of the mess we’re in and lead us to a prosperous, more free America.

When making up our minds about a policy, or a candidate’s position on a policy, it’s best to look at how their solution approaches the problem.  If the solution is a temporary fix or involves the government unnecessarily, that candidate should come up with a new one.  We have to keep working until the issue isn’t an issue anymore, because our government’s tendency to sweep issues under the rug is doing nothing but hurting our country.  Our government is creating vast and unnecessary bureaucracies, expanding the welfare state, enacting socialist policies, encouraging an entitlement culture, and fostering a society unwilling to question even the most egregious acts by its own officials.

When it comes down to it, whether we are liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, we must actually expect something from our officials.  We pay for their jobs, their healthcare, the institutions they create, and the debt they’ve put us in.  It’s time that we got answers from someone who’s willing to roll up their sleeves and fix the issues that are killing the United States.