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Vote with the mind, not with the heart

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 08:11

With the presidential election less than a week away, relentless campaigning and political discourse will soon be calming down. By now we have seen the  advertisements, watched the debates, listened to the
speeches and been force-fed political discourse.

While all those things may be useful, the best way for Americans to make their vote truly count may be to forget all of it.

Instead of basing one’s vote on increasingly hostile political banter, voters should take it upon themselves to do their own research on the issues and candidates in the election.  
Every voter has an obligation to fulfill Tuesday — one that is literally the essence of our democracy. While it may seem preachy to remind Americans what democracy is, it’s undeniable that many people will head to the voting booth without actually learning the platforms of the candidates or even understanding what the
amendments truly mean.

Still others don’t go to the polls at all, choosing not to exercise their right to vote. In 2008, 58.2 percent of voting-age Americans cast a ballot for president, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Unfortunately, the way the political environment is presented to us makes it easy for political campaigns to appeal to the pathos or emotions of voters. The problem with this is that political discourse like campaign ads and political pundits and their commentary can skew a reasonable voter’s perception without having any basis on fact.

For example, when President Barack Obama said that former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney said, “I would have let General Motors go bankrupt,” he is misstating Romney’s comment and making him out to be a ruthless
businessman, when the scenario is much more complicated. Similarly, one of Romney’s ads states, “(Obama) sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China,” completely disregarding that Italian company Fiat’s merger with Chrysler helped the company become profitable again and had nothing to do with Fiat’s already-existing factories in China.

The issue is that rhetoric like this is often the only source of political information that people receive. Yet the information truly needed to cast an insightful vote is out there.

Anyone who plans to vote Nov. 6 should set aside at least 30 minutes or an hour this weekend to do some research. TiVo “Honey Boo Boo” or take the half time segment during a football game to do some research. Read through all of the candidates’ platforms and take the time to completely understand what the  amendments mean. Forget about the how the hostile political environment has made you feel, and educate yourself to make an informed decision when casting your ballot.

 

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