Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Truth or Consequences

Today someone I know sent out this e-mail (not a forward, it’s original) to a group of friends:
I’m looking for an un-biased article or e-mail forward that states something like… 1) why it is so important to pay attention to the election this year (economy, healthcare, war, etc.) 2) what are the most important qualities to look for in a candidate (not race or sex or if they carry a gun or not) 3) how to figure out the facts from the lies (what websites, news sites… ) and 4) to not pick a candidate just because of who your spouse or parent or church or friend votes for (he/she could be just as uneducated on the issues!).

I want something that I can forward to everyone I know, liberals and conservatives, and not offend but encourage them to pay attention to this race and to be smart and educate themselves on both candidates and to research the facts (because there have been a lot of lies lately).

Have you seen anything like this?? If not then maybe I’ll have to write something. I just don’t know how to say… if you believe every word a politician says you’re an idiot… nicely. Ha! ;)
I don’t know if there is a good answer to this. Or more precisely, unlike horses, I don’t think you can even lead most people to the water much less get them to drink it. Educating oneself takes time and work. Sometimes it’s just too much of a bother. Therefore, most people like to rely on friends, family, church or some other entity they put trust in.

It reminds me of a girlfriend I had over twenty years ago who paid no attention to issues or politics but consistently voted for one political party (it was her civic duty to vote, you know). When I asked her why she voted the way she did, she told me because that’s how her father voted. I thought this was odd because her father was an abusive drunk whom she otherwise had absolutely no respect for. Still, it was easier for her to follow his lead than to make up her own mind based on her understanding of the issues. It was like a brand loyalty. Dad buys Fords and they’ve always done well by him, so I might as well buy a Ford too.
The other problem is that there often isn’t one set of truths to be found. Oh sure, you can catch politicians in factual lies (see Palin/McCain) but, you can’t always demonstrably prove there is one true answer to an issue. Sometimes it’s just a matter of opinion. This is particularly true of complex moral issues like abortion or when to use the military or the death penalty.

Having said that, it’s a good idea to understand both (or all) sides of an issue before deciding where you stand. Then you need to seek out the candidates who are most closely in line with your beliefs on most (it’s probably never all) the issues. And, of course, that’s easier said than done which is how we get back to why so many people rely on acquaintances or talk show hosts or bloggers or even the political parties themselves.

But back to the e-mail. Does anyone have any ideas on what my friend is looking for? I’m so deep in the weeds on these things (because that’s what I like to do) that I may be missing the obvious. I say find some news sources you trust for accuracy, watch C-SPAN (except the dumb call-in shows), and look inside yourself to see where you stand just as a starting point. Or not. I’m always available for telling you how to vote if you can’t figure it out for yourself.

4 comments:

rickmonday said...

Dave,

Here is a site that provides a candidate quiz. It seems unbiased to me and provides documentation on some of the issues. Not sure how accurate it is but this might be what your friend is looking for.

www.votehelp.org

geek_guy said...

I did a simple test on votehelp website, on off shore drilling. I mentions McCain wanting to lift the ban on offshore drilling, in June. They forgot to mention that the week before he was against it and got a $800K support/bribe from the oil companies for the switch. They site newspaper articles, but you know how "biased" they are. It is a "good start", not anywhere near perfect.
Dave, the problem with writing an email such as this would be the "issues" (or it should be) and people have different sides to issues. As divided as this country is now, it is easy to tell which side the issues stand, no matter how stupid the other side is. :)

rickmonday said...

Here is another cool interactive EC map that Dave Heinzel posted about on his blog.

http://www.npr.org/news/specials/election2008/2008-election-map.html

Blevins said...

go to electoral-map.com or ontheissues.org (I think).