As an engineer, I didn’t take debate classes in high school or college.

I should have because then I would be able to have a more meaningful discussion about politics and religion with others without feeling attacked and attacking them. This ability to discuss topics in meaningful ways without feeling defensive and hurt is something we seem to have lost in our society. The Atlantic claims the Lincoln-Douglas debates were the greatest in history.

Debates and meaningful discussions are necessary for our survival.

The political attack ads and soundbites are not debated. Watching today’s political debates, we only see each politician attacking the statements of the other, not with the clarity of their position but with soundbites and misinformation taken out of context. It makes it especially difficult to make a reasoned choice. But despite this, it is our obligation as citizens to vote in every election.

We are in the final throes of voting in this midterm federal election. I find it particularly scary that most people vote along party lines—Democrat and Republican. Forbes stated that party-line voting in Congress has risen from 70% to 90% since the ’70s. This is apparent to the casual observer as we see the news stories about how important it is to elect enough people to hold a majority in each chamber either to pass legislation or to stop it.

But, despite this, we have to vote for the best candidate regardless of party affiliation. We must determine what each candidate truly believes and will strive to do during their term in Congress. We won’t always be right, but watching their voting history will tell us something for the next year. I urge you to vote.

Voting for the best people made this country great, and continuing to vote will keep it great. Your candidate won’t always win, but you know you voted the way you believe. So how do we decide?

The league of women voters has given us some guidance.

First, know their stand on issues. For example, in the New Mexico Governor’s race, the two candidates are opposites on abortion issues.

Second, Look at the background to see if you think they will bring the necessary expertise to the office. The league has a website called VOTE411, where you get information about each candidate you can choose from. This is a great resource.

Other resources are your local newspaper, they may have some biases behind their recommendations. Be a discerning voter and vote always.