I'm gonna tell you a little story about a friend of mine named Joe. Joe pays attention to current events as intensely as a starved cheetah pays attention to a frolicking zebra.
When it comes time to vote in elections, Joe studies each candidate, ponders every ballot initiative and has sleepless nights considering the ramifications of a bond measure. The day of the election Joe reviews his notes as he heads into the voting booth.
After voting, Joe has a sense of pride as he puts an "I Voted" sticker on his lapel. As Joe leaves the booth, he bumps into a guy who just voted in the booth next to his. The guy voted because he got to take time off work. He determined his votes based on the flip of a coin! As luck would have it, he voted the opposite of Joe. In essence, Mr. Coin Flip cancelled out Joe's thoughtful votes!
I never really understood why we all have the right to vote, but don't have any responsibility to know the issues before we vote. Other than being 18 and providing a driver's license, there are no standards, no litmus tests, and as far as anyone is concerned you can base your votes on what names sound the coolest! I mean, how can you not vote for someone with the name Antonovich or Bustamonte? Too bad Fritz Coleman isn't running for office!
Between cardio-kickboxing, determining how many carbs are in Oreo cookies and trying to organize our summers around the reality television show schedule, it is no wonder that many of us get our political educations when we aren't really looking for it~ through political television commercials sandwiched between our favorite shows and the 11 o'clock news. I don't understand how anyone can learn the truth about a ballot initiative based on a 30-second television commercial paid for by a rich radical advocate and written by a psychologist who knows what we want to hear. How can we learn about the true nature of a politician when our only exposure to him is via 10-second soundbytes that show him saying five words from a 500-word speech?
Many others educate themselves via the internet, magazine articles, newspapers, talk radio, television shows, and social circles surrounding them. I believe we are a society over-exposed to other people's opinions and sometimes mistake others' opinions as our own.
It is important to seek non-partisan sources with a neutral voice that provides only the facts. If you have a strong opinion about an issue, find three sources THAT SPEAK OR WRITE IN A STYLE THAT YOU RELATE TO, and that explain the other side's views. Listen to what they have to say. Finally, put aside time to ponder and process the information. This will give you a balanced view. I would rather have an educated voter cancel out my vote than a coin flipper.
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