As you enter the voting booth you need to consider the following national issues: Ebola, ISIS, immigration reform, gun control, minimum wage increase, pay equity, marriage equality, national debt, voting rights, abortion rights, national security, Benghazi, IRS, VA, tax reform and climate change to name just a few. This of course does not include the myriad local and state issues voters are confronted with. It is not easy to be a responsible voter, so maybe it is simply easier not to vote. Let’s face it, we are not a population known for its studious review of issues and careful analysis of our options. More often than not we vote as our parents did and we vote straight party ticket. But during the past several months we have simply not gotten a break. Everyday brings a new crisis that seems to bring us to the brink and our government seems unable to respond in a forceful and cohesive manner. Does it really make a difference who we send to Washington? It seems not only that the world’s problems are encroaching on our lives, but that Washington is so broken that it can no longer keep the world from sucking us in. How can I begin to understand and make the right decision? Who can I depend on to do the right thing and help me protect my family? In truth, when you get down to it, that is the question I need to answer when I am in the voting booth. Is the American voter willing to put in the time and effort to answer that question or is he so underwhelmed or underwhelmed at the choices and the way they are presented that he will choose to sit this election out?
Our system of government is dependent upon an informed and engaged electorate. Yet, we must ask whether the extraordinary proliferation of media and advertising has, in fact, created a glut of information that is nearly impossible to decipher. When we add the Madison Avenue approach to the “selling of the candidate” and his message we must ask whether we are enhancing the information of the electorate, or simply finding new and better ways to convince the electorate. Add to that the seemingly unlimited funding available to today’s candidates to buy the best and the brightest propagandists and the voter doesn’t have a chance. Today the voter is flooded with seemingly valid but conflicting arguments on any issue he is asked to vote on. It then becomes the obligation of the voter to study and learn the facts in order to make an intelligent and informed decision about which way to vote, yet we are all aware of propositions that have been purposefully worded in a way to confuse the voter.
The reality is that the campaign machines that have been developed are so sophisticated that they are able to target the average voter with information that is incorrect yet plausible. The only way the voter could know about the incorrectness of the information is to have taken the time to study the issue and familiarize himself with the facts. Unfortunately, a small percentage of voters take the time to educate themselves. They tend to buy into the ads and listen to their friends and family. While democracy is dependent on an informed and engaged electorate, Americans are not meeting the challenge and achieving the goal.
It is not good enough to simply go to the polls and vote. To vote blindly is to elect blindly. I have been beseeching everyone to take the time to vote in this most important midterm election for months. But now I beseech you to take the time and make sure that you know what you are voting for. Study the issues and understand how your vote will impact on our future. Let’s work together to enhance our democracy, not belittle it.