not to be daunted, or, rather, being one who hopes for a loophole, an escape, or sheer mercy, i called the office, where the recording told me that election days were especially busy for the operators and that i should really try to find my answers on-line. i weeded my way through the numerical button-pushing menu, hoping to reach a tired government employee who may offer me some hope. instead, i was quickly connected with a pleasant lady who, upon my asking if i could still register, offered to look me up and see if i was already in the system. be it my internet ineptitude or the grace from up Above, i know not, but i was registered and in the system; i'm in precinct pr31, and vote at the high school just down the street.
i donned my thick knit socks and almost out the door when it occurred to me that i should really know who i'm voting for. during my days of merit badging, one lesson from 'citizenship in the nation' always stood out for me: when you vote, make sure you are informed. if you vote for a candidate for an arbitrary reason, that vote will, in effect, negate the vote of someone who did their research and deliberately voted for another person. kind of rude, really.
and i've wanted to be more informed on the issues of the race this time around. being politically cultured is something i want to improve on. sure, i've been reading the reports on cnn.com, but that tells me who's doing what, but very little about who stands for what.
on 101.9 this morning, they were inviting people to call in a say who they were voting for and why. i don't recall hearing much about immigration reform or education policies. most people were moving on gut feelings or important image issues, such as 'degree of toothy smile' or 'how weird is their neck?'
now, this isn't really as shallow as it may initially appear.
first, a candidate can take whatever stand on as issue they want during the race, but how well they will follow and uphold their platforms [if at all] is an issue of character, not just policy. that's why we don't like politics in the first place--people don't do what they say they will. heck, that's really why we don't like a lot of things. for instance, i thought hulk would entertain me.
second, leadership in general and politics in particular are largely a matter of presentation, appearance, and persuasion. exposure to the market is of paramount importance, and a positive image/appearance is the best way to win the target's favor. obviously voters sway that way, and so does the world after election. i haven't bought a can of 'shasta' in years for that very reason.
after the phone poll, the djs mentioned that there are some websites that present you with statements from each of the candidates on different issues and let you blindly choose with whom you agree. why didn't someone tell me about this before? the whole world talks as if they all know the issues. ah, sophistry.
'dear google, how do i choose a candidate'?
i'm often amazed at how effect googling can be at times; this was one of those times. i opted for the washington post quiz. if you have time, i suggest politically informing yourself. it took me just under an hour and a half, but that was because i went through and read the full responses from each candidate. using the snippets, you could move a lot faster [although they can sometimes sound the same when abbreviated].
not only are the questions blind, but the results are blind, too, meaning that i could see i could agree some candidates more than others, but i didn't know whose side i was taking.
this began to raise some questions for me. following the race, i had people i liked and people i wasn't too keen on, but that was based largely from their media appearances. i really didn't know who stood where on issues of iraq or gay marriage, and and began to wonder what the results would be. would my score align me with someone i didn't like? do i vote with my opinions or with my perceptions? do you go with the best smile, the most media friendly, the person that's ahead? the person you just seem to like? if the issues you believe in are supported by someone you didn't really like for some reason, which side do you take?
when the quiz was finished, i was quite surprised with a lot of the results. i would have liked to see go back and see who made each statement on a question, because some were very close, and my decision was swayed on rhetoric or attitude as much as minutia of policy.
in the end, i was happy to see that the candidate whose image i liked and who seemed to be of good character was the same person with whom i agree with on almost 60% of the issues.