Vote with a deaf ear to hype

As we move into the last days of this election season the predictable angry and insulting dialogue has intensified. It is most obviously noted in the Presidential campaign where truth is trumped by
hyperbole, exaggeration and outright lying. Unfortunately, we are not immune in our small city and county to the spit and push mastered by those who orchestrate the races for and against various positions and issues. I know from experience such interactions lead to defensiveness and more anger. It is a hard thing to transcend.

I wonder how we have gotten to such a place? I am not alone in the desire to know the candidates for the people they are now, not for the people who might have done something foolish or said something dumb in the past. I am not alone in my desire to know how the candidates think and what they might really do to solve the huge problems that face our country. And yet it is almost impossible to glean much of great value from the TV, radio or newspapers. It appears to me the press has devolved to an entertainment industry where we hear the reporters opinions rather than hear from the candidate’s themselves.

My wish is that we can focus on with the issues, not the personalities. I see this as an opportunity to make a decision regarding a candidate, or an ballot initiative, based upon something more concrete than what some paid marketeer wants us to know. It is a great challenge to gain real information regarding the major issues of our country, county and city. It places a larger burden on us the voter. I believe we are up to the task. Lets close our ears to the yelling and try to ferret out what the benefits of a particular initiative is or who the candidate is that really has the greater good in mind might be.

The Citizen is happy to provide a forum for comments and discussion. Please be civil, truthful, and relevant. Please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. Real names are appreciated.

4 Responses to “Vote with a deaf ear to hype”

  1. Bill Donavan

    Chuck, thanks for the good words. This is the kind of wisdom people need to hear. I appreciate that you took the time to write this.

    bd

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  2. Trey

    I'd argue that there's never been more thoughtful reporting about political campaigns, and for Joe the Citizen (or Joe the Plumber), there's never been easier access to that reporting.

    For example, this morning I read The Making (and Remaking) of McCain by Robert Draper in the New York Times and revisited The Machinery of Hope by Tim Dickinson in the Rolling Stone before checking out the polls at Five Thirty Eight, an electoral projections site. I'm currently listening to KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny online, where Krasny is speaking with Pelosi about the mortgage crisis. All useful stuff.

    There has been plenty of good writing this year on the national scene at Vanity Fair, Atlantic Monthly, Slate, the WSJ, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and so on. The BBC, Der Spiegel, the Economist and the International Herald Tribune are also good sources, and bring different perspectives to the table. If you appreciate liberal humor, the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are reliably irreverent. And the blogosphere covers the day-to-day (or minute-to-minute) with extraordinary doggedness, although the signal-to-noise ratio can be quite low.

    It is true that there are other dynamics in play. Political campaigns are perhaps more tightly-managed than ever before. The 24-hour news cycle has had well-known deleterious effects. The current administration has treated the press, and by extension, the public, with extraordinary contempt, leading to increased skepticism on all sides.

    If you're trying to educate yourself about issues, whether national or local, simply be selective about your sources and listen and read with a critical mind.

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  3. Lum Pennington

    Chuck, I also appreciate your sentiments on the demeanor of the media and the importance of becoming wholly educated on the candidates and their positions. The division that exists today between the parties -- that propensity to close one's ears when the other party speaks, like a child with his fingers stuck in his ears repeatedly shouting "la! la! la! la!" so as not to hear his mother -- is deplorable, and in my opinion, the result of the media's eagerness to distract Americans from the issues by investing air and ink in the latest lies and distractions.

    While I heartily agree with Trey's advice that voters be selective about their sources of information, it must be noted that people of all persuasions feel they are selective about their sources. It is the voting public's inability to conduct passionless, intelligent dialogue that worries me. This began with Karl Rove, who succeeded in dividing this country as no one had done before.

    It is no secret that a great percentage of the populace can quote the results of this week's "Dancing with the Stars" competition with greater confidence and accuracy than they can understand the implications of an amendment to their state constitution. It's a sorry state of affairs. Something's gotta give.

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  4. Alex Telthorst

    Agreed. I've been wrestling with this very issue. And unfortunately, this is one of the few places in our society where going to the source or the advocates for an issue won't necessarily get you all of the information you need to make an informed decision. Even those advocates with the best issues and best intentions seem to be unwilling or unable to acknowledge, articulate and debunk (or at least, own up to) the arguments from across the aisle. I wrote a little piece on this for ChannelBV that the Citizen has been kind enough to link to in the sidebar. Whatever your leanings political or personal, you owe it to yourself to give equal time listening to what's being shouted by those who oppose and those who support the issue so you can truly decide for yourself.

    http://www.channelbv.net/2008/10/29/weasel-words-spill-the-beans/

    And PS Don't forget - after you've made up your mind, write it down! and take it with you - I didn't bring my cheat sheet to the ballot box and had to work way too hard reparsing the legalese of the amendments.

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