Mid-term elections are fast approaching. By now, all eligible citizens should have thoroughly vetted the candidates vying for their respective positions in our representative government, having a clear understanding of the issues facing local, state and federal governments.
Sadly, that is likely not the case. In much the same way young students try to get out of doing their homework before a deadline approaches, voters often rely on the medium which often is misleading, at best, and often downright false, at worst; the political ads we see on television or hear on our favorite radio programs.
To explain this better, a simple conversation with “average Joe” or “Josephine” may go like this;
“Hey! How’s it going?
Hi! Great! You?
Fine, fine….Beautiful morning!
Yeah. Love it. You ready to go and vote?
Nope. I just don’t know what to do. They’re all the same; the politicians, you know?
Well, not really. Have you checked the candidates out and see where they stand on issues?
No. But those ads sure tells it like it is. I’m leaning towards X because he (she) is a known quantity and those ads have me worried about the Y candidate.
You do know those ads are skewed, if not downright misleading, right?
Yeah, maybe. It depends on whose ad you are talking about. Candidate Y’s ads are full of BS. Now, X’s ads are spot on, and they sure get me all riled up and fed up with what’s going on in Topeka and in Washington! Those bureaucrats need to be thrown out!
Have you checked out X’s record while he (she) was in office, and compared it to Y’s record and stand on the issues?
It takes too much time. I’m really not into politics that much. Actually, I hate it! I despise having to do it and decide between the lesser of the two evils. So I go with whomever seems most convincing going in to the polls. The government is absolutely corrupt, you know? I don’t trust anybody, to be honest. Except, my candidate; he (she) sure tells it like it is!”
Thus ends another frustrating moment which leaves one deeply concerned about the future state of our fragile democracy.
Let’s be honest here. Political operatives and their experts know how people like Joe and Josephine think, and they use every tool in their toolbox, including dishonesty and misleading use of factual data to steer public opinion one way or another.
Rather than taking their talking points at face value, the best way to come to an informed decision is to actually do the homework and look at everything with an open mind.
Back in the day when my group of agriculture advocates were learning effective ways to successfully lobby for good farm policy, policy experts, including Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, retired Professor Emeritus from K-State, emphasized honesty and complete reliance on proven, factual data. No exceptions. Once our credibility was compromised, denial of access to promote our cause was permanent.
Today, sadly, political campaigns have been reduced by incredible dishonesty and misinformation to where it is no longer a different interpretation of the facts at hand, but a complete re-fabrication of a different reality, if you will. This is the newest form of gas-lighting; it’s not what you see with your own eyes, but what the candidate tells you.
It’s time to refocus, not on the facts as a candidate describes it through political attack ads, but as they truly are. The challenge then, is to do the work of an informed citizen, discover those facts and pertinent information, and vote.