A few weeks ago I posted my advice for Politicians with the hint that perhaps I also have advice for Voters. Turns out, I do have some unsolicited advice for voters for what it’s worth. Most of these things you already know so this is simply a reminder. It’s a reminder for you and for me, for your neighbor, your Aunt, your grocery store clerk. These are bi-partisan bits of well-worn road seen through the lens of the digital age. So, without further introduction, Advice for Voters.
Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Sadly, the percentage of people eligible to vote compared to the number of people who actually show up at the poll are surprisingly far apart. In the last presidential election only approximately 39% of the voting population cast their vote. That’s not even HALF of our voting population. Considering that I’d suggest 100% of our population has a stake in who we elect to govern our country it seems wise to step up and actually take part in that process. If you are not yet registered to vote take a moment to do that. There are a multitude of ways to register. This is just one site I stumbled upon today: Register to vote
Every state has its own deadlines in which to register to vote in certain elections so pay attention to that. Do it today and be a part of the electoral process. If you have the ability to read this post on the internet you have the ability to find out how to register.
I usually make a point to never read the “comments” section of articles I find on the internet. It’s crazy making at its finest. In my view the only opining I want to hear about the daily news should come from Floyd the Barber as he’s cutting Andy’s hair. I don’t need to hear every “Floyd the Barbers” opinions stacked up one on top of the other as it pertains to the article. We can and should speak up and give our opinion on political matters. We just ought to be a lot more selective about it. Making a comment on the internet news articles affords you nothing, I mean it, nothing. If you want to use your internet voice for something considering using Social Media to help shine a spotlight on something you feel passionate about. Try signing online petitions (from credible organizations.) One site I like in particular is a White House site called “We the People.” I’m sure if you look well enough you’ll find all kinds of partisan, bi-partisan and non-partisan online petitions as well. We all post “vote for my kid in the photo contest” things on Facebook, why not apply the same amount of effort to the democratic process?
Don’t get distracted by shiny objects on the news, by sound bites or clever catch phrases. Catch phrases in particular cater to the voters with the shortest attention spans. Be informed. Read everything you can find. Read things you never even considered reading. I admit, I watch Fox News’ version of stories I see on more liberal sources, just to see how it differs. I can’t stand Fox News but I do it anyway. I read George Will’s version of things because although his politics differs greatly from mine, I think he’s a smart dude and I know I’ll get a perspective I did not hear yet. Read Libertarian views if you’re a liberal, read liberal views if you’re a Tea Party leaner but read, read, read, read and read. Don’t get caught in the web of the uninformed and overly emotional. This is government, not family.
4)Be willing to be wrong
The smartest people I know are the ones who admit that they might be wrong. The more certain we think we are, the greater chance that we’ll hit the concrete hard when we fall. Being willing to be wrong and demonstrating that in conversation means that we are still open to learning and that is a wise place to live.
What I hate most in political discussions, especially on the internet (Facebook, I’m looking at you) is when the discussion falls to name calling. Almost every single time I get into a discussion online about this stuff someone degenerates to “Well, you’re just a Repubican’t” or “Well, you’re just an Obamaite” and this means nada to the discussion overall. It adds nothing. Nothing. name-calling just makes you look as though you have a weak argument and this is true of both sides. People who fall back on simply tearing down the other side without offering some understanding of the opposite opinion appear uninformed and inflexible and this is a dangerous position. You don’t have to AGREE with the other opinion or the other party but if you resort to school playground behavior when faced with contradictions to what you understand to be true then you lose all credibility. Remember that often, you represent the entire party, religion, neighborhood, gender to people you engage in conversation. Be smart, inquisitive, understanding and well read. Be willing to be wrong.
5)Forget the polls
The only poll that matters is the one that happens after we all vote and that vote is tallied. Does your willingness to support a candidate REALLY depend on how he or she is doing in a national poll in July? If it does, you’re doing it wrong. Do NOT make your choices based upon this kind of faulty, mind numbing, statistics leaning bull crap. Make a smart choice. Listen, I know it’s hard work. I am not downplaying the amount of listening and conversation and research and fact checking necessary to make informed choices. Our political system is whacky, for sure, but it actually is well designed believe it or not. It certainly has its flaws but this is the system we’re working with right now, so find ways to fulfill what the framers of our Constitution had in mind and make yourself known in this process.
Though it’s not always a presidential election year there IS nearly always an election at hand. Whether it’s local, regional, statewide, special or PTA, people are being ushered into government of one kind or another all the time. Be involved with your community and go local. National elections get a lot of press but your life is more than likely MOST affected by the decisions made by your local and regional leaders more than anything else. High level candidates are built here. Be a part of building great future national leaders.
This is by no means the be all, end all of advice for voters. It’s what comes to my mind whenever we engage in “election time” which lately seems to be a constant state of affairs. In Advice for Politicians I quoted Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I like President Lincoln a whole lot, actually. I think if more Republican candidates followed his example I’d actually consider voting for the party, to be honest. I’ll leave you with the entirety of that speech because I think it best exemplifies the kind of real patriotism we ought to be showing at times such as this, times in which we truly are at war with ourselves, we truly are testing the design of the democratic system, we truly are at a crux in our development as a nation-
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.