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Yesterday, my attention was called to a "Letter to the Editor" in my local paper. The writer was a woman, "a life-long Democrat", who was most adamant that under no circumstances would she vote for Barack Obama. If Hillary Clinton was not awarded the nomination she would either stay home or vote for John McCain. Why? Because Mr. Obama was "scary" and she knew nothing about him.

Okay, that's fair enough, I suppose, IF she had then stopped having made that point. But, she conflicted her own statement that she 'knew nothing' about him when she proceeded to detail a list of every affront that had been uttered against Mr. Obama from his being a Muslim, a foreigner, an undercover terrorist, and ending with a lengthy diatribe about Jeremiah Wright. I didn't realize Mr. Wright was running for office, but she sure was quite 'knowledgeable' about him! I did mentally question her knowledge of Civics as most of us know that a 'foreigner' is not eligible to run for the highest office in the land. Seems she had forgotten that Hawaii has achieved statehood.

Upon more reflection of this woman's letter, I started wondering. Just what is the responsibility of a registered voter? Perhaps, there should be some kind of oath included in the registration process requiring educating one's self on all candidates and their positions on important issues. Before undertaking such a serious task as casting a ballot that, collectivly, could affect the direction of the entire world, this seems a reasonable prerequisite. It would truly be a travesty if the next president of our nation was determined by the votes, or non-votes, of the "I don't know anything about him/hers".

We could simply depend on the media, and many do. In its myriad of editions, both broadcast and print, a vast array of political pundits who seem to propagate out of the hedges beat every bush in the row. No potential nuance is left unexamined from every possible angle. Or, we could rely on the plethora of video snippets with content taken out of context, or the splicing of thirty years of oratory into a compact two minute sound-byte. If you happen to miss one broadcast you can rest assured it will be played again no less than 2,376 times on 142 channels. As a last resort, there's always U-tube, which can be fit into your own schedule, as well as online editions of every newspaper on the globe.

But, there is a difference between fact and hype. The miracle of Google makes it possible to fact-check just about every tidbit of information put 'out there'. Some things really are valid reporting of the news and can be trusted, but if something is brought to our attention that seems questionable, or is of an opinionated or 'hearsay' nature, it's only logical to check its validity before making a decision. Snippet quotes taken out of context usually fall into this category. We are all familiar with the often less than ethical ploys used in political campaigns.

The world, both politically and environmentally, is facing some crucial problems. It is imperative that the citizens of nations fortunate enough to have democratic forms of government take it upon themselves to put old ideas and old loyalties aside. It is has never been more vital that those electing the people that will lead us be well informed. The world is changing on fast forward. What worked even ten years ago doesn’t necessarily work today.

Susan Haley


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Suzann wrote May 18, 2008
    • Susan, what an excellent post. Thank you for making it very clear what a huge responsibility we have as voters, to make ourselves informed. Great writing!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote May 19, 2008
    • You are so right Susan. Unfortunately it has become easier not to vote and continue to whine about trivial things than to take a stand for what we believe.

      I was very vocal in making sure that my children register to vote as soon as they were of age, and even more vocal about stressing the issue how lucky they are that they can actually vote.

      I was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, democracy is something that really take close to heart.


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lois Stern & Patty Kovacs wrote May 21, 2008
    • Hello Susan,
      And thanks for a most thought provoking article.

      I sometimes wonder how far our nation must fall before we, as citizens, begin to shape up, value our constitution and all that our forefathers set forth for us. It is no secret that our once super power nation is no more. Sound bites fill the air waves, but I question how many actually read the papers and editorials and then THINK for themselves. Sure, it’s easier to just parrot what one has heard, but that’s not what responsibile citizenship is all about. Nor is it the path to recreating a strong democracy.  

      Keep on writing and pushing your messages!

      Lois W. Stern
      [Link Removed]

      Eyeonbeauty, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Alexandra Boyd wrote May 22, 2008
    • It is extremely important to vote, and definately an obligation to be fully educated. Very good topic to bring up.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Suzann wrote May 31, 2008
    • Hi Susan,

      I just ordered your book, Rainy Day People, from Amazon. Can’t WAIT to read it!

      Best to you,

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