Today is Election Day, and everyone is up in arms getting you out there to vote. After all, it’s your right! It’s your civic duty! You have an obligation, and no right to complain if you don’t! If you don’t vote, “the greater evil” wins, and America will descend into darkness and chaos! Fire and Brimstone! Cats and dogs, living together!
Oh, wait – wrong movie.
You have a ton of celebrities encouraging you to vote, in many cases, endorsing candidates in one form or another. Many have been very outspoken against Trump, while a few stepped up to his defense. Even when they don’t vocalize who to vote for, they’re certain on getting you out there to just vote.
For young people, first timers and such, this is a great thing: they see this country as failing them, so encouraging them to vote may drive their willingness to participate in the political structure of this country beyond that vote. We need willing participants who actually care about what’s going on to get these clowns that don’t out of office, not more offspring of said circus.
That being said, for many of us, this isn’t our first rodeo – we busted our electoral cherries at least once before. Many of us treat it as our first, however – we watch these people on TV, listen to their ads on the radio, and follow what our friends and families have to say. Social media inundates us with information, not all of which is unbiased or accurate.
We’re saturated in so much noise that we follow who we feel is right.
One of the best things I’ve read, oddly enough, came from a celebrity: Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs.” His advice, when asked to endorse someone or to get people out there to vote, is better than most. I’ll let him tell it here, as well as his follow-up here, but to summarize it: educate yourself before you vote.
Most of us only understand the issues near and dear to us: the importance of income coming in, of our education, of our rights, of our well-being. We forget that the roles of our elected officials and how what they do affects things, placing our smaller problems onto someone who is supposed to be a world leader. The president might be able to suggest and coerce ideas, but they only have the last say, in most cases – and although they can be overridden, they often aren’t. The president’s policies often have a bigger scope beyond our petty affairs. Likewise, the roles of our elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives often get mixed up as to who can introduce what and how many there are.
Obviously, the book list Rowe suggests is way too big for today’s election – it’s a good starting point for the next one. Likewise, taking courses today won’t help much in this election either – but if there are any openings in the local schools, it’s a good idea to take if it’s been a while. (Also a good idea, while you’re at it: debate classes or groups, for the argumentative types who don’t want to sound like teenage Twittertwits and FaceSlammers.) There’s even the resources I supplied in a recent blog posting – how well they will hold up beyond the election is anyone’s guess, in some cases, but the documentaries will still exist, and the ideas will still be worth following.
What can you do if for some strange reason you’re still undecided? What if you’re so sure of who you’re voting for that you can’t possibly see them as human? Here’s what I suggest:
- Compare the candidates – here’s a couple of cheat sites:
- Examine their character – facts and stances, pros and cons of what they promise mean nothing if how they act and treat people argue against it. Anyone can put an act on in public, but once the makeup and spotlights come off, how are they? For that matter, how are they in the spotlight all dolled up? Youtube has plenty of clips, some edited into those advertisements we’re all sick of, and the news websites should also have video clips of their stops and debates. Even those podcasts I mentioned in my blog post earlier have soundbites, analysis and interviews with people who’ve been around them, who’ve dealt/worked with them. It’s easy for someone who’s an expert salesman like Trump or a career politician like Clinton to promise things they have no intention to keep – it’s harder to tell which one is even semi-believable.
- Review the rest of the candidates – this isn’t just the president we’re electing; many local, state and federal representatives and officials are also fighting for their jobs, or trying to fill an empty seat of a retiring spot. These people play key roles in how our government runs and acts, and are in many ways more important to American interests than the President. They’re worth scrutinizing a few minutes over, especially if you’re not familiar with them.
Most people will tell you the importance of voting, and they’re not wrong. What they’re neglecting, and what may come back to haunt us later, is the importance of that involvement – of not just picking someone without a little knowledge first. It might be too late, with what few hours we have left, to change that, but hopefully we can be prepared for the next election, and what I’ve said gets you thinking. After all, knowledge is power – and that power’s what we will need to really make lasting change.
P.S. I’ve already voted – did it by mail last week.