Friday, October 31, 2014

How to make your choice

As Tuesday’s election draws near, voters are telling pollsters their No. 1 priority is a Congress that can get things done. At the same time, they are saying they are likely to elect Republicans, making GOP control of both houses likely.
    What voters say they want and who they say they want don’t mesh.
    In 2008, congressional Republicans pledged to prevent any legislative wins for President Obama. They have successfully blocked any compromise with congressional Democrats, resulting in no significant legislation since they took over the House of Representatives in 2010. Larger Republican majorities are almost certain to continue the gridlock.
    The problem is not which party will be victorious in this election, but in the campaigning processes that are being used to get to that victory.
    Campaign expenditures for this off-year election will top $1 billion, up from $52 million in the presidential election year of 2000. Ninety percent is being spent on negative messaging intended to make voters become mere pawns in helping special interests get something for their money. Talk radio and TV, the Internet and a 24-hour news cycle mean new campaigns begin the day after the polls close.
    This never-ending, spin driven media blitz that passes for the electoral process leaves voters shell shocked, fearful, confused, and too often completely disconnected. Studies show that more and more voters have opted so far out that they not only have never voted, they don’t even know how. This is an unrecognized form of voter suppression.
    How does a voter make a rational decision in irrational times? For citizens schooled in civic responsibility and doing research before voting, is it even possible in the dense fog generated by modern campaigns?
    Whether or not the issues that matter to you personally are on the radar in a campaign, you can know each candidate’s political party and other affiliations, contributors and past actions. No matter what is said during the campaign, those connections and actions are a trustworthy predictor of what a candidate is likely to do once the campaign ends and the governing begins.
    You might not know where you stand on issues a campaign chooses to emphasize, but you probably do know what government action or lack of it would make you angry—things that directly affect your life. Think about how a candidate’s connections line up, particularly at the state and federal levels, so you won’t have to get angry. You can ignore the rest.

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