It's Time For Voters To Do Their Homework

This was a letter I sent to one of lour local newspapers and I thought it was good enough to make it into a post here as well. The only difference between the original letter and this post is some formatting.

After spending weeks reading the back-and-forth between supporters of various political candidates during this, the political silly season, one thing has become immediately evident to me (and to anyone paying attention): Too many folks on both sides of the political aisle are basing their support or denunciation of the various candidates upon sound bites, highly deceptive negative campaign ads, or upon third/fourth/fifth-hand hearsay. This is disturbing on many levels.

How many times have we heard those decrying “low information voters”? Many times, from my recollection. But what about “too darned lazy voters” or “single issue voters” or “closed minded, do what they're told voters”? It appears to me that these types of voters have become all too common. This is a problem that plagues both political parties and has undermined the integrity of our elected officials across the board because in some cases candidates none of us would otherwise trust with our money or our children are elected to office where they can do a lot of damage.

When I watch the various attack ads from all of the candidates, more often then not they will contain a small kernel of truth, but that 'truth' is blown all out of proportion or distorted to such an extent that the truth is lost, or worst, deliberately buried. We hear the smarmy voice-over that claims “Candidate X voted for/against 'this, that, and the other thing'. Candidate X is wrong for (place state name here).” If anyone bothers to look more deeply at the claim, it usually falls apart because the legislation referenced had numerous other parts that made the bill desirable to vote for or against. The problem is that very few people are actually willing to take a closer look, preferring to let others think for them. They buy the claptrap passing as political dialogue as gospel and no amount of evidence to the contrary will persuade them to change their minds. The bigger problem is that the leaders of both the Democrat and Republican parties want it that way. Heaven forbid voters should actually do their homework and base their votes upon their own findings. That is supposed to be the basis of the American republic.

However it's been perverted into nothing more than a scripted popularity contest where the popularity has no relation to what the candidate will actually do once in office. (We've seen that with the present occupant of the White House: very popular with a portion of the electorate, but not necessarily competent in the performance of the duties of the office.)

Unless this trend by eligible voters is reversed, our republic is in trouble. We will end up with office holders who do not have the best interests of all their constituents in mind, much as we do now.

Do I believe it is possible to reverse this trend of know-nothing voters deciding the fate of the nation? Yes, I do. But I also understand the possibility is slim at best. Unless there is a major shakeup to get the electorate more involved with the process, we are doomed to end up like the America seen in the movie Idiocracy at best or as another totalitarian state not unlike the old and now defunct Soviet Union at worst. Neither outcome is desirable.