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    Let’s Unite America

    When I was a kid I had a friend who always caused trouble for me.  I would tell my mother “It was her idea” as a way of absolving myself of blame and she would say, “If your friend jumped off a bridge would you do it too?”  From an early age, my parents tried to teach me to be accountable for my actions and not to follow someone else on a road that was only going to lead to problems.

    I’m reminded of that story in the fallout of the bomb scare last month.  Prominent figures like the Obamas, Clintons, CNN, Joe Biden, Robert De Niro and others were sent suspicious packages that contained pipe bombs.  Luckily authorities found that the bombs were poorly made with most incapable of exploding. But that does not diminish the threat.  Although no one has been harmed thus far, the incident undoubtedly raises questions about the sender’s ultimate intentions.  One thing everyone “seems” to agree on is that the sender deliberately targeted left-wing public figures, some political and some celebrity Trump critics. This has inspired the blame game and has become another way to potentially weaken the presidency and, by extension, our country.

    The truth of the matter is we shouldn’t be pointing fingers at which party is responsible for such terrible actions. We shouldn’t waste our time blaming the behavior of one specific, perhaps unbalanced person.

    I prefer to ask a very uncomfortable question for some: Could it be that we are collectively responsible?

    I’ve heard what sounds like “It was his idea” from various leaders in this country, which has given rise to everyone acting like nasty kids in a schoolyard.  If Trump’s tone is offensive, then the best way to counteract that is to speak in an opposite, equally offensive manner.  That’s the depth we’ve sunk to in politics and entertainment today.  And at this point, I’m not interested in blaming anyone for starting it.  It simply needs to stop.

    The bomber’s actions are not about politics.  And pointing fingers back and forth is not going to fix anything; it is only going to disappoint citizens even more.  The truth of the matter is that we will continue to disagree politically and that will never end, nor should it. But both parties need to set an example—not react to bad behavior with more bad behavior–and promote peaceful negotiation and consideration for others’ opinions.   Ronald Reagan had reasonable conversations with Tip O’Neil and Ted Kennedy.  Bill Clinton did the same with Newt Gingrich.  These were leaders with polar opposite views yet willing to be civil in their discourse.  One can disagree with their politics, but not their dignity.  Can our current political leaders return to civility?

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    Does Negative Political Ad Campaigning Really Work?

    As we approach Election Day, it’s no secret that political ad campaigns with personal attacks by one candidate against another are running continuously on every television channel.  Lawn signs say things like “Fire” so and so as a way of pushing people toward one side or the other.  Every political ad is nastier than the next, as candidates are desperate to bring down their opponents from any/every angle possible. All of this begs the question of how effective these methods truly are? Are voters responding to these types of ads? Do negative ads have the ability to dissuade someone from voting for a particular candidate?

    Studies have shown that these advertisements are effective in “influencing preferences and voter turnout”, but not “across the board”. I equate these advertisements to commercial product promotions. Viewers watch a commercial for a product, compare it to the competitor, and, unless already fond of a specific brand, will decide whether to buy it. Voters do the same thing when watching different ads for particular candidates. First, they compare the opponent, decide which candidate they deem more fit for the position, and, unless adamantly partisan, decide from there. Sometimes the advertisements work, other times voters are attached to their party’s candidate and are therefore immovable.

    In addition, it’s believed that the more well known a candidate is, the more successful he/she will be. People tend to vote for candidates whose stances are clear, and television is the best place to publicize those views in a vast, quick and efficient manner.  Although there is some benefit in calling attention to yourself in politics by denigrating and defaming someone else, I would rather be elected on a platform of effectiveness and positivity than because I found photos of my opposition with his pants down.  It is my belief that voters are too smart to fall for the lies and deceptions in so many political ads we see today.  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a candidate say what they stood for rather than lie about what an opponent allegedly stands for?  And make no mistake about it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle lie.  Perhaps they can’t help themselves.  But voters don’t need to be their dupes.  So vote and have the final say.

    Find my source here.

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    Voter Guides and the Upcoming Midterm Elections

    With midterm congressional elections taking place on the 6th, less than a week away, gathering accurate information on the candidates is paramount. While collecting truthful information is important, it is often hard to find. Proposed facts are filtered through the often-partisan lens of multimedia gatekeepers. For example, contrast Fox News to CNN as a means of getting straightforward current events and you’ll understand my point.

    From televised newscasting to shared articles on social media, there is a wealth of options to obtain voter content.  But as the lifeblood of American politics, the voters need to be choosy about where they get voting information. With such an important decision on the horizon, it is prudent to make your vote count. One good tool for disseminating fact-based information about political candidates to make the best choice is a voter guide.

    Voter guides lay out those running for an election by the issues on their respective platforms. There are two types of guides available to the voting public: Official voter guides and unofficial voter guides. “Official” signifies publication by a state office, where “unofficial” refers to partisan guides, or guides published by newspapers and nonprofit organizations (Ballotpedia). These guides might offer a voter questionnaire as a quick and easy survey of your political views used to select a candidate that best reflects those issues on their platform.

    These guides are a great way to get an overview of each election’s candidates. Though voter guides are presented as a non-partisan encyclopedia of politicians, there is still the chance of encountering erroneous content. Such political slants are more common in unofficial guides owned by third-party businesses. This means that a once independent voter guide website can be purchased by an external company with partisan affiliations without notifying its users. The best way to know who provides your election information is to research what ties each voter guide has.

    Midterm election voter turnout typically pales in comparison to that of the presidential election, and the previous midterms had the lowest voter turnout in recorded history (Pew Research Center). The presidential vote is an important one, but midterm elections offer hundreds of seats to the politicians who pass our bills into law and thus greatly affect our everyday lives. Be the difference this midterm election. Raise that statistic and do so by arming yourself with credible information about the candidates of your choosing.

    You can find more information on how to get the most accurate voting data here.