As I went to check my email this morning, a headline on MSN caught my attention, “Dirty tricks increase as Election Day nears.” I’ve been following voter suppression stories for more than a month and couldn’t be more angry about the legalized disenfranchisement that is happening in states all across the nation. This story isn’t about legalized disenfranchisement, though. Instead, it focuses on illegal, misleading or downright false fliers, pamphlets, and phone calls that people are receiving days before the election. From threats about police being at the polls to arrest people with parking tickets to lies about when the election will happen, people who don’t believe in real democracy are out in force this year.
This poem was written as much from despair as hope, I think. As we move toward the final stretch before election day, I shudder to think that things usually get much more ugly during this time period. I needed to remind myself what kind of America I believe in. And I do believe, with all my heart, that every American matters and that we are above the back-and-forth nonsense we’ve seen these last weeks and months. We are voting as much about our way of life, about our hope for the future, and about our belief or disbelief in the value of equality this election season, as we are any other issue even if we don’t realize it. If we truly believe that all people are equal, now is the time to prove it.
We’ve introduced a new feature over at The Externalist: Presidential Election 2008. Many of the issues highlighted in the presidential campaigns are issues that contributors to The Externalist write about, so we’ve asked our contributors and other published writers to answer three or more questions directly related to the presidential elections. We’ll be posting their answers throughout October on The Externalist‘s blog. Thus far, answers have been posted by Kathie Giorgio and David Michael Wolach, both fiction writers whose work has appeared in The Externalist in the past.
Participants need not be contributors to the journal. If you are a published writer or poet, or know a published writer or poet, the questions and submission instructions are below. We want to hear from many voices and encourage everyone to get involved, to talk politics, even if that isn’t with us.
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.