52° Larkspur, CA
The Student News Site of Redwood High School

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

What it means to be a Giant
What it means to be a Giant
Gil LadetzkyJune 22, 2024

In fifth grade, I attended my first-ever Redwood basketball game. It was a rainy Thursday night in a gym packed with energetic students. As I...

A high school student ridden with acne scrolls through social media posts of influencers with seemingly flawless skin from filters.
The bulging red bumps of your teen years shouldnt be normalized: Acne vulgaris, a detrimentally neglected disease
Emily HitchcockJune 20, 2024

Acne vulgaris is a chronic inflammatory disease —those red, white or scarred marks, the ones that stand out or grow beneath the skin as a painful...

Seniors launch their caps in their air as Dr. Barnaby Payne announces they have officially graduated.
Redwood class of 2024 graduates amid tears, cheers and airhorns: A celebration to remember
Cora ChampommierJune 15, 2024

  On Thursday, June 13, the Redwood class 2024 solidified their impact on the school over the past four years and became a step closer...

The issue with single-issue voting

What single political issue is so important that it trumps all other considerations when casting your ballot? Most American voters have already made up their minds. According to a November 2023 survey conducted by NBC News: abortion, constitutional rights and immigration were the most common issues that voters listed could sway their vote for or against any particular candidate. Voters today are increasingly basing their votes on one issue and one issue only. This trend of single-issue voting not only reflects rising polarization, but also a general decrease in engagement with politicians.

In the current political climate, it seems as though all votes can be construed as single-issue votes. Certain issues of crucial importance have served to dominate the discussion of policy in the past several years — particularly the issues that voters deem uniquely important, like abortion, constitutional rights and immigration. The preeminence of these topics has prevented any real progress on other points of potential cooperation. This trend is reflected in the widespread distrust of American voters towards Congress’s ability to compromise. According to Pew Research, more than 80 percent of Americans view Congress as “somewhat bad” or “bad” at working with the other party. This distrust in congressional ability has led many voters to solely consider one meaningful topic when voting, not believing that Congress will be able to accomplish all that they desire. A clear example of this would be American abortion policies. Because some voters no longer have trust in their representatives regarding broader political topics, voters solely rely on their opinions supporting or opposing abortion to cast their ballots. Additionally, for some, religious or moral values in relation to a single issue frequently take precedence over broader economic and social policies. Many will continue to base their votes this way for the rest of their lives. 

However, the prevalence of single-issue voting can’t be blamed entirely on the American public. It is impossible to convince all American voters to consider every single issue when particular topics often dictate elections. Indeed, for many current issues — like abortion, singled out as a topic of crucial importance in the 2024 election season — the platforms that

Illustration by Nadia Massoumi

candidates run on are black and white. In an April statement by former president and Republican nominee Donald Trump, he claimed that he was “proudly responsible” for the reversal of Roe v. Wade; while Trump has not endorsed a national abortion ban, fearing the loss of the vote of suburban white women, his rhetoric certainly leans heavily in favor of abortion restrictions and states’ rights. Additionally, a majority of House Republicans have endorsed a national abortion ban as part of a spring budget proposal. Democratic nominee Joe Biden, in response to Trump’s recent claims, issued a statement declaring Trump as “responsible for creating the cruelty and the chaos that has enveloped America” since Roe’s reversal. Nuanced policy on such issues is often avoided in attempts to gain electoral support.

But the fact remains that single-issue voting does not reflect increased engagement in the political system — it does precisely the opposite. Single-issue voting has usurped candidates’ platforms as the basis for how most Americans cast their ballots. Today’s American voters use elections to combat their perceived “evils” of the world rather than voting for a specific platform or candidate.

Throughout our lives, we rarely make decisions without regard to the broader context of those decisions — take where we live, or where we go to school. Each of the largest decisions in our lives is decided by the complexity of the factors at hand — why shouldn’t voting be the same? It is no issue that most Americans are influenced primarily by one factor in their voting decisions.

For 2024, regardless of what drives Americans to the polls, it is crucial to remember the fine margins by which the 2020 election was decided and the record-high turnout that delivered Biden to victory that year. And, as single-issue voting continues to play an instrumental role in the American political system, there will likely be no escaping it in the near future. This November, Americans should not let one issue overshadow the broader political landscape. While this system may not be ideal, it is the system that we live in — and we should not let idealism overshadow potential impact.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Tallulah Knill Allen
Tallulah Knill Allen, Copy Editor
Tallulah Knill Allen is a junior at Redwood and a copy editor for the Bark. She loves books, ballet, making playlists and spending time with her friends and family.
Beckett Tudor
Beckett Tudor, Feature Editor
Beckett Tudor is a junior at Redwood High School and a feature editor for the Redwood Bark. He enjoys reading, listening to music and playing with his dog.