From what I hear, many Americans like me are disgusted and confused by all the negative ads, sound-bites and spins the candidates and their political action committees are putting on the facts. I believe the vote I have is a trust tendered by the sacrifices of thousands of military men and women. I need to exercise it carefully.
In the past I have resorted to visiting the League of Women Voters website and watching CSPAN to hear the candidates directly without a newscaster telling me what the candidate really meant or how the candidate muffed a question or wore a tie that didn’t match his suit.
This election like any election should cause every voter in America to a) think through his/her position on the important matters and b) find someone who most closely parallels that position as shown by their past voting record or actions they have taken and statements they have made. This involves some study but anything less is not much different than throwing darts in the dark.
I have assembled a list of websites which should help American voters get to the truth of what their candidates stand for and how truthful they have been. Truth-telling is an important, some might say all important, character trait in those who will represent our interests in the legislative halls.
Before beginning, though, I suggest making a list of the important issues (eg. abortion, terrorism, budget deficit, environment, economy) and try to write down what you honestly believe is the way the matter should be handled by our leaders. What specific answers do you have for handling that issue or problem.
Once you have your “position paper” and if you have internet access (if you do not most public libraries provide it for free to citizens of their community) check out these web sites.
I. These are some of the sites that can help you find out what is really happening in Congress:
A. http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/b_three_sections_with_teasers/howto.htm. Includes a How To Section (how to find legislation, how to find laws, how to find congressional votes)
B. http://www.senate.gov/ Search engine for senate names, website, and contact information.
C. http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/b_three_sections_with_teasers/virtual.htm Virtual reference desk, including Congressional Record, the Constitution, current and active legislation, learning the legislative process, women in congress and about fifty more categories.
D. http://www.house.gov/ House of Representatives. Search by topics such as abortion or concealed firearms and receive back articles relevant to your area of interest. List of all representatives by state or last name with contact information and committee assignments, schedule for the day, watch live televised proceedings.
II. The League of Women Voters offers a non-partisan searchable data base for articles relevant to your area of interest. In some instances they have posted a position paper on a topic of public interest: http://www.lwv.org/ League of Women Voters.
III. CSPAN (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) is a private non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service. Their mission is to provide public access to the political process. C-SPAN receives no government funding; operations are funded by fees paid by cable and satellite affiliates who carry CSPAN programming. Their channels present candidate events as they happened without comment. Searchable data base of articles and schedule of current programming available: http://www.c-span.org/
IV. Tampa Bay Times Pulitzer Prize Winning website Politifact to help the voters find the truth in politics: http://www.politifact.com/
Having a good election begins with an informed electorate.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi