We are now into the 2012 election season. This means that we are going to see a barrage of information and misinformation from all corners, most of it expressed with the intent to influence your vote. Possibly with true and factual information, possibly with false or distorted information, but there will be many attempts over the upcoming months to change both how and whether you vote.
I have written previously about the necessity of making your voice heard and about the various tools for understanding the political process. I have also talked previously about using POPVOX as a tool for making sure that your voice is heard, and it continues to become one of the better ways to get in touch with your congressional representatives over specific bills.
Right now I am going to issue a plea. Even if you feel disenfranchised by the current political process, even if all you do is vote a straight third-party ticket, to get out and make your voice heard this year. That can be in the form of voting directly. It can be in the form of contacting your representatives with tools such as POPVOX and Open Congress. It can be in terms of time spent volunteering for or donating to campaigns. Or it can be in the form of simply keeping informed on current issues and talking about it, even if you don’t vote and never write your representatives.
Elections in general–and presidential elections in specific–are very influential for the course of our country over the upcoming years. If nothing else, it implies the appointment of Supreme Court justices, who then can influence our policy on issues such as freedom of religion and the right to privacy for generations to come. There have also been bills proposed this year to either hamstring or at least substantially weaken the EPA’s regulatory powers. I will not tell people how to vote on these specific issues, but they are things that matter to me.
Yet the primary issue that concerns me is not simply the matter of the government’s direction, but rather that people be informed in their views. Or, for that matter, in their disgust if they feel fed up with everyone. I believe that we–as a country–need to move past the false equivalency. That we need to avoid demagoguery and encourage rational discourse.
The best inoculation against the rampant misinformation and propaganda is to stay informed. The more people who do that, I believe that the better things will turn out in the long run.