Every four years our country elects a president. It is always a contentious time that can certainly strain the psyche of the nation. Election years can be both confusing and polarizing, with people galvanizing around a particular issue, cause or candidate. The past two elections have been particularly interesting due to the participation of one Barack Obama (current POTUS for all of you out there that still think its dream). The presence of a viable minority candidate took the nation by surprise and provided an interesting context of the American political and social system. Back in ’08, I deleted quite a few FB friends for some racially insensitive post about then Sen. Obama. Since then, I have had to delete quite a few more as I refuse to interact, on a social network or otherwise, with people that try to hide bigotry behind a thin veil of political criticism. I got caught up in a few heated debates about the merit of people’s arguments and wasted a lot of $5 words and energy in the process. I allowed myself to engage in discussions that had nothing to do with the issues and with people that didn’t know what the issues were. I also had idealist concept of the process of government and the importance of national offices. This election season, I’m smarter and I plan to be proactive. I have a plan in place to keep the drama off my social timelines, out of my inbox, and out of my political conversations. I have created a 2012 Election Season Survival Kit. While some people are preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse, I more worried about the moron’s inflammatory commentary and misguided aspirations of my fellow living though lobotomized man. Here is my plan to stay engaged and sane during this year’s election:
1. Focus on what really matters – It’s important that we know the issues. Yes, I know, we are sold a bag of goods on the campaign trail. Some of that is because we are not an informed electorate, s/o to NEWSROOM. Moreover, we too often allow our views to be shaped by tradition, sensationalized headlines, and chopped and skewed 45-second sound bites and clips. What matters to you may not matter to me, but we all need to have a dog in the fight. Whether it’s voter ID laws, immigration, gay rights, federal oversight, or federal spending, we need to know something about something. Many programs that serve under represented people are federally funded. Programs like Head Start, Trio/Upward Bound, and reduced lunch are all tied to federal funding in one way or another. If we don’t pay attention to these programs and the programs like them, no one will. A number of educated African Americans question the relevance of organizations like the NAACP, The Urban League, and PUSH, but these organizations are the ones fighting for our districts, colleges, and civil rights. There is so much information out there; there is no excuse for us to be ignorant of the issues. Having a basic understanding of the most important issues and talking points of the campaign not only makes you a more informed voter, it makes you a more engaged citizen. It allows us to understand how and why our tax dollars are spent and to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions or lack thereof. Don’t allow what you hear on your favorite news channel to be the only source of your campaign knowledge. If nothing else, we need to at lease know where the candidates stand. At the very minimum, you should know the candidates running mate and their views on a few of the major media talking points.
Lastly, knowing the issues will stop you from engaging in the ignorance. If a person can’t clearly articulate their grievance with a particular candidate, or their stance on a particular issue….treat them like the Beatles and LET’EM BE. There is a lot riding on every election, as evident by the Tea Party takeover in 2010 that eithered both Dems and the GOP, it was super ugly. < see what I did right thurr? Take some time to learn about the issues our country is facing.
Here are some sources to help inform and empower you for the 2012 Election cycle:
BET – don’t sleep, this is one of the more informative sites available.
CNN – They have info on the candidates and the issues
NAACP – Voter ID Laws
FOX – Whether you agree with the station or not, it’s good to know the info they are putting out.
MSNBC – some of my favorite news programs are on MSNBC
Look forward to hearing visiting with you all next time as we look at the second item in the survival kit. The “Drake Response”
How do you feel about Election 2012? Do you know of any other resources to increase political awareness? Are there any issues that you feel strongly about? Have you had to delete anyone from FB or your life b/c they got all fooley wang about politics?