Santa Clarita Signal • Opinion Column • Ethically Speaking • August 31, 2014
Get Ready, Elections are Coming!
David W. Hegg
With just over two months until the mid-term elections in November, it’s time to talk about voting choices. No, I won’t be endorsing candidates, issues, or parties. What I will do is suggest some strategies for getting factual information and making wise choices before you enter the voting booth.
We all know the barrage is coming. Soon the media will be churning out commercials, testimonials, and endorsements meant to make our choices easy. They will start out being informational, and eventually turn into intentional exaggerations and mean-spirited, usually groundless accusations. Just remember, the choice shouldn’t be easy.
Next will come the ubiquitous campaign signs. I often wonder about the strategy here. Am I supposed to think a candidate is more worthy if his or her signs are plastered in groups of 5? And I always wonder about the color choice. Do you suppose paid political operatives stay up nights arguing with candidates that red and blue beat green and yellow 7 out of 10 times?
All of this will be only slightly less annoying than the plague of pre-recorded phone messages. You know, the ones where we’re supposed to think some nationally known figure just happens to have the time to call me personally and ask me to vote for so and so. Are we really that gullible?
I think the answer is “yes.” Here’s the problem. Professional politicos know most voters are lazy, and just want someone to tell them who to vote for. They have learned we can be swayed by edgy commercials, a flurry of yard signs, and celebrity endorsements. They are betting we’ll let them do our thinking for us, but you and I know our democratic system only works if we vote, and do so intelligently.
So, here are a few suggestions:
1. Forget the commercials entirely. Refuse to be manipulated by scripted sound bites produced by professional filmmakers. Do you really think you’re getting the whole story?
2. Remember, the guy with the most signs is just the guy with the most signs. You’re not electing a marketing team; you’re selecting a person to represent your point of view.
3. Read all you can about candidate views and records. Most election headquarters offer position papers and other materials that will allow you to hear what the candidate really thinks.
4. Attend some “meet and greet” events. Get face to face with the candidates and have some well-worded questions ready for them to answer. Then assess just how knowledgeable they are, how able they are to think and articulate their views, and whether or not they appear trustworthy.
5. Lastly, if you find a candidate worthy of your support, support them. Many times the best candidates are the least funded simply because they refuse to toe the party line.
The elections are coming, and they are very important. Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you. Think, study, discover, and then vote. You’ll be glad you did, and so will the rest of us.