The Elections, Writers, and Poets

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.

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Check It Before You Spread It

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? 

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Fact Check Your Candidates

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, 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.

Back to the Issues, Please

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.

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One Reason to Support Obama

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). 

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