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Election issues: Let’s sit down in our thinking chairs and think

Submitted by on Wednesday, 29 October 2008 2 Comments

I love politics, I love policy, I love government. There, I’ve said it.

Three out of four years, that makes me a freak. This year, I’m kind of cool, and I’m enjoying it. People actually want to talk about the economy, No Child Left Behind and health care. Usually they can’t say “excuse me, but I have to shampoo the cat” quickly enough when I get wound up.

As much as I enjoy the conversation, though, I hope people aren’t listening. I have definite beliefs, opinions and priorities that might or might not dovetail with theirs. My journalistic training compels me to at least acknowledge that there’s another side that disagrees with me, but I encourage folks to check things out.

A lot more checking out needs to happen in the next week. It’s getting a little loony out there.

People who have never shown more than scant signs of political interest suddenly are posting videos on Facebook. Well and good, except the “reports” cover falsehoods that were debunked months ago but keep bobbing to the surface.

Folks, it’s called lending your name to a lie. It’s rumor-mongering, and you’d be pretty steamed if someone did it to you. Investigate before you post.

There’s plenty of information out there — perhaps more than we’ve had at any time in this nation’s history. You don’t have to take your neighbor’s word for it or your brother’s or mine. Track it down for yourself. You owe it to this country. You owe it to your kids.

On the presidential level, start at Barack Obama and John McCain’s Web sites. They lay a lot of it out for you, Obama a lot more thoroughly than McCain.

Continue to the Tax Policy Center and its exhaustive list of tables examining policy proposals. Go to On The Issues — this site comes in handy for state-level candidates as well. And the quiz to match you with a presidential candidate is kind of fun, too. Check out a newspaper Web site — whatever you think of the mainstream media, you have to admit a lot of information is presented.

On the local level, give the candidates a call. They’re probably in the phone book. It’s hard for down-ticket offices to get attention in a presidential year, so they’d likely love to chat.

Whatever you do, don’t rely on something you heard from a friend of a friend of a friend who swore it’s true. Check it out.

And while you’re at it, check out what’s going on with the ballots. A lot’s happened already.

Some of it’s bureaucratic goofs that are infuriating when it’s on something this important: A really unfortunate ballot typo in New York, for example. Some of it’s pure evil, and if the perpetrators are caught they should be hanged for treason: Florida residents being told they could vote by phone falls into this category.

Ballots and voting rules are confusing, and touch screens are failing left and right — literally across the political spectrum — in early voting. Check in at votersupression.org to keep up on it — it could happen to you.

Know where your polling place is — smartvoter.org is a good source for this information in many states. Precincts often change. In California, officials have to redraw lines after every registration period closes, and it causes much confusion on Election Day.

There are six days left. That’s plenty of time to make sure your vote counts, and to make sure it’s counted.

Do it.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Kathleen McDade said:

    Amen! I often tell people to get the information themselves — don’t just believe what you hear, even from me! So I’m right there with you. I also wanted to say that your title got me singing the Thinking Chair song from Blue Clues!

  • debra said:

    Thanks so much, Kathleen!

    I have to confess, the Blues Clues link was deliberate. I figured if I annoyed folks enough, they’d want to get off my blog and start checking out the links.