The Race to The White House -- Choosing a Candidate Through Critical Thinking

Moderator Bob Schieffer, right, watches as Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, sh
Moderator Bob Schieffer, right, watches as Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, shakes hands with President Barack Obama before the start of the third presidential debate on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Election Day is less than two weeks away and the debates are over. In a very close race, both President Obama and Mitt Romney have a packed schedule full of campaign stops -- with both candidates trying to win the votes of the American people. A Washington Post national poll says there are roughly nine percent of voters who could still change their mind -- proving those final rallies and campaign stops could play a role in deciding who the next president of The United States will be.

If you're one of those people who still haven't decided who you're going to vote for, it's time to make a decision. The best way to do this: use critical thinking. In other words, stop listening to your friends, your family members, religious leaders and other community officials who want to sway your vote, and do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

Critical thinking in choosing a candidate for president of The United States means looking at the issues devoid of emotion. Write a list of all the important issues, and make sure you know where each candidate stands on these issues. Think of it this way: choosing a candidate is a lot like buying a new home; you're not going to get everything on your wish list and there will be some compromises. The key is to find the candidate you agree with the most -- even if it means voting outside of the designated political party you belong to.

Here's an example of how to breakdown the issues through critical thinking. We'll use Jane for this example, who is a typical middle-class woman, married with two kids, has an average salary and isn't affiliated with one particular religious group.

Problem -- I don't know who to vote for. Our leaders in Washington seem lost. Democrats are creating a nanny state while Republicans are stuck on puritanical dogma. The net result is America is losing ground. From the financial disaster of ObamaCare (Democrats) to the social bigotry toward the gay rights movement (Republicans), we have elected leaders who are either fiscally or socially irresponsible.

Solution -- It's time to send leaders to Washington to solve the complex problems we face in the 21st century while simultaneously moving forward toward creating a more socially progressive, self-reliant society. In order to maintain our superpower status, we need to elect mentally tough politicians capable of critical thinking. The political philosophy that will catapult America back to the top is one of smaller government; a true separation of church and state and a doctrine of non-interference in the personal affairs of our citizens. In short, the government should protect us from foreign enemies, provide a reasonable safety net for the less fortunate and enforce laws that punish people for hurting others.

Issue 1 (Health care) -- Obama's Affordable Care Act will provide everyone with health care. That sounds good to me, but the downside is the financial mess this is going to cause. America is already trillions of dollars in debt, and this legislation is going to add to our financial mess even more. I have no problem affording health insurance and would like to see America climb out of debt, so I side with Mitt Romney on this issue.

Issue 2 (Abortion) -- The Democrats believe abortion should remain a legal option for all Americans, and the Republicans are against a woman's right to choose. I believe in being able to make my own decisions when it comes to my body, so I agree with President Obama on this issue.

Issue 3 (Stem cell research) -- The democrats believe the government should fund embryonic stem cell research, and the Republicans don't. I have two young children and if they were to become sick I would do anything, including be open to new treatment options, to save their lives. I support the Democrats and President Obama on this.

List out all the issues and rank them in order of importance to you. This will help you decide who to vote for.

When it comes to casting your vote on Election Day, make the choices that matter most to you.
Even if you believe that the two most powerful political philosophies in Washington aren't good for America or Americans, make a list of the issues and use critical thinking to reach your own conclusions. They say every vote counts, and it appears that's going to be very true this time around.