|Written by Jan Thinks|
INTRODUCTION: First and foremost, you have to vote! It is your right; it is your duty. If you don't vote, you can't complain about your elected officials and what they do. The only way an elected official gets into office is they get the most votes. If you don't vote for someone, you are NOT saying you don't like your choices - you are accepting the candidate that wins. Sometimes you have to make a choice between bad options, but one will always be worse than the other. If you don't like your choices, get active earlier in the process next time and you might have a better choice in the end. For now, here are some steps to take to make the best choice possible.
STEP 1: Stop believing political ads. In fact, stop watching them. Advertising is designed to make you do what the advertiser wants you to do. Advertising is not a reliable source of information. If you have any doubt about this, just look at how tobacco companies convinced people that cigarettes are NOT harmful. If anything, look at who is paying for the ad and ask yourself the question, "How are they going to benefit if this candidate gets elected?"
STEP 2: Stop listening to the opinions of TV, radio, reporters and other personalities. Look for the facts and make-up your own mind as to what a candidate says and does.
STEP 3: Listen to the candidates. Watch debates and interviews with the candidates. Interpret what they say to you for yourself.
STEP 4: Do your homework. There are plenty of sources to learn what the candidates have done in their public life. You need the whole truth, not a twisted version with political spin.
STEP 5: Look at the candidate and those around them. Body language speaks volumes - sometimes even more than the words actually spoken.
STEP 6: Look at the candidate's family. The family is going to be a representative of you as much as the candidate. How do they interact with each other? How do they interact with the public with and without the presence of the candidate. Family pressures will affect the performance of an elected official.
STEP 7: Discuss your analysis of a candidate with others you respect and with whom you trust their opinions. They may have a different perspective that you need to consider.
STEP 8: Always check out and verify new information before believing it as fact. Consider the source of the new information.
STEP 9: If you can't find a straight answer on one or two basic issues, write the candidate and ask them directly. You more than likely will not get a direct reply, but if enough people ask the same questions there is a good chance the answers will come out in the press.
STEP 10: VOTE!
TIPS: The entire election process is lengthy. You have time to gather enough information to make an informed decision as to which candidate will best represent your core beliefs. Keep informed and vote your instincts.
WARNING: Power has a way of corrupting the best of people. Issues do not always have an obvious black or white resolution. There are always more than one side to any situation that involves more than one person. No single candidate with the exception of you being the candidate will ever have 100% of your interest or view point. The best anyone can do is to hope that our candidate of choice will do as they have promised or at least continue to take action as they have in the past. If they don't, it is up to each individual to tell them not again when it is time for re-election by voting for the other guy.