37. Careful Voting

30 Jan

In several previous blogs I discussed serious political problems. In a democracy, the only way to solve such problems is to vote the offending officials and/or party out of office. In my previous Blog, 36, I promised to deal with ways to improve voting in my next blog.

It should be obvious that simply listening to what a politician promises is not sufficient for judging his/her effectiveness in office.  Listen and think carefully about what is said, but also consider:

1. Examine the history of the candidate and the party. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Try to find objective and impartial information.

2. Search the voting record for important legislation. Fortunately, we now have the wonderful internet to help us find this and other information.

3. You can find transcripts of speeches and other types of documentation. Anything stated without real evidence is suspect. Learn how to verify assertions.

4. One of the most important documents to look for are proposed budgets. You will find that the budgets will tell you what class of people will supported and who will be neglected. You must look at the written budget. Politicians have been known to tell lies about budgets that are inconsistent with what they actually stated in writing. Reading a written budget can be very informative as to actual plans.

5. If you are concerned with one political party, you must see what the other party is saying about the same issues. This is so obvious, that examples are not necessary. You must be aware of all arguments related to a policy.

6. Be aware of subtle innuendoes: sly remarks stated without evidence. A current example is all the innuendo about the citizenship of a candidate who was born in Canada.

7. Be aware of political assertions that will manipulate you by creating fear. Governmental actions must be based on facts and careful assessments, not on impulsive reactions to fear. Repeating over and over descriptions of minor acts of terrorism creates unnesesary fears. Currently, in the USA, deaths due to “terrorists” are very much fewer than those caused by common criminals and deranged people. Real, serious threats exist in the world, but exaggeration does not help to deal with them. Sometimes a rapid response is not possible or effective.

8. A past president or other official may not be responsible for events taking place while he/she is in office. This is a very difficult issue, which often leads to incorrect interpretations. A common example is that a president does not make any major laws, that is the role of Congress.

9. I have noticed many blatant and obvious lies. I recall commentators altering critical words just presented in a political video a few minutes before. If a commentator makes a lot of these malicious alterations, then he/she is not to be trusted. A common example is: a candidate may say that he wants to raise taxes for rich people, but lower them for all others. The commentator says the he advocates raising taxes (period) — not the “whole” truth.

10. Examine the logic of a politicians arguments. For example, a rich candidate cannot be bought by others, true, but he/she may already have undesirable intentions. How did he become so rich? Did he act morally and ethically, or just profitably. Does an ability to make a personal fortune, translate to the extreme complexities of running a nation.

11. Regarding national policies, it is OK to look at how other nations have dealt with the same situations. Why not, we are great, but not perfect. In any endeavor, it is important to learn and adapt. Many people and nations have failed because of rigid and unadaptive thinking.

12. What are the goals of a candidate? An abstraction like “let’s make our nation great again” really says nothing. Will it be great for all the people or just certain categories of people?

Finally, I am fully aware of the fact that very bright people already know all this, and others will find these principles to be tedious, boring, and/or a waste of time. My only hope is that a few of you may dig a little deeper into the really important process of voting effectively. It is the only way to solve some of our most serious national problems.

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