While the relevance of any particular rumor can be debated all day long, there’s no doubt that some of the rumors flying around about our presidential tickets are playing a huge role in people’s perception of the candidates. Because of that, the rumors are the first thing that we need to get straight in order to be informed voters and to speak with our neighbors in an informed manner. When we spread rumors, no matter which candidate we’re talking about and even if it helps us bring someone over to our way of thinking, we aren’t behaving like the adults we are and certainly not in the best interest of the country that we all love enough to feel so passionately about. On top of that, as soon as someone reads the truth about the rumor, we’re more likely to get folks to vote the opposite way we’d hoped because if you can’t believe one thing, why should you believe another?
I cannot believe the number of rumors that are guiding this election. I cannot believe the number of times I’ve heard or read things that are proven to be false, yet are said/written as though they are some irrevocable truth and should determine how we vote. A responsible voter should fact check everything they hear, read, or see on some TV ad. A great place to do this is www.factcheck.org, an award winning, nonpartisan public policy institute that researches rumors and posts a complete analysis of their factuality on the web site. Voting records are also public and appear on most state web sites, including budgets and often the public testimony/minutes of council meetings. Old newspaper articles are also good sources of information. I’ll post a list of the most commonly believed rumors and gossip, along with links to sources that can help unmuddle an amazingly muddled campaign, soon.
Several columnists, bloggers, and analysts have said that eventually the presidential campaign will get back to the issues. I hope so because frankly, I’m sick to death of personal attacks not only between candidates, but between friends and family, neighbors and co-workers, and even between spouses. There is no doubt that this is the most emotionally charged presidential election of my (relatively short) lifetime—and with good reason. Still, it’s frustrating to have to sift through thousands of web sites, news articles, blog comments, and goodness forbid, even YouTube, to figure out where the candidates actually stand on the issues. I admit that I’m guilty as anybody of getting too emotionally involved. But that doesn’t change the fact that this election is about issues first and foremost. It’s time to turn to those. There isn’t much time left before we will all (I hope) be placing our votes. We have a responsibility to do this based on knowledge of all the issues—not just the one we care most about.
Or rather, 14 reasons. Science Debate 2008 is a collaboration among some of the foremost scientific and public policy experts out there today. After developing a list of 14 science and policy-related questions from an original list of more than 3,000, they sent these 14 questions to both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees and asked them to answer. Barack Obama’s answers have been submitted and posted. The McCain campaign has said they will answer the questions, but they haven’t yet (I’ll keep checking back to update on that).
I’ve never been a blog surfer. I’ve posted more stuff on my own blog in the last two weeks than the entire year it was up before. This election is too important to me to give up any opportunity for more information, or to pass that information along. Wading through fact and fiction is harder than ever and I have found more verifiable information reading blog comments than anywhere in the national media. There’s a lot of falsity out there, too, extremists on both sides. The single best blog I’ve found for intelligent, rational conversation is Mudflats, a blog that has received a lot of attention lately. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. Pay attention to the comments and click on the links within them. There is information we should all know and don’t. We have a responsibility to be informed voters.
Another blog that is getting a lot of attention: Women Against Sarah Palin. Again, read the letters women-and men-are sending to this project. It is heartening to know that there are still people out there, many people, that do not determine their vote on a single issue or a single perception that may or may not be true.
And finally, a YouTube Video highlighting McCain’s dirty and fraudulent advertising tactics.