Voters must take the time necessary to educate themselves

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Approximately 130 million people voted in the 2008 election, roughly 64 percent of the electorate. That number was up considerably from the 122 million who voted in 2004. The expectation for voter turnout for this year's election is low.

What influences a voter? With political advertising at record levels, can we really get all of the information we need to make an informed decision from a 60 second sound bite?

Television stations have become the big winners in the media war for political advertising, especially in swing states. Campaigns choose television over other forms of media because television advertising can play to a time-conscious audience's emotions quicker and better than other forms of advertising.

The problems is, voters do not know for sure whether the political advertising is coming from the candidate's campaign, a Super Pac, a union, or some other wealthy individual or corporation. And rarely does a television advertisement tell the audience where the candidate stands on an issue, but rather it points out all of the shortcomings of his or her opponent.

Thanks to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which ruled that corporations have the same right to political free speech as individuals, voters have become less and less influenced by political advertising on television, but spending on the media has sky-rocketed.

Project Vote Smart is dedicated to serving all Americans with accurate and unbiased information for electoral decision-making. Based in southwest Montana, the project's policies, procedures and structure attempt impartiality and focus on the issues.

Vote Smart President Richard Kimball, in a video message to online readers stated, "Our founding fathers created a form of government based on truth, transparency, on the people's ability to know the facts, and govern for themselves. They took an historic gamble that every generation of Americans would do what was necessary to defend those basic principals of freedom. They would be sickened to see how their dream is being corrupted."

Project Vote Smart, in coordination with over 200 news media organizations, asks candidates to provide essential information about where they stand on various issues. If the candidate fails to provide their position on the issue, Project Vote Smart will determine the candidate's likely position from his or her public statements, legislative record, and interest group ratings. The information is compiled and made available on their web site, www.votesmart.org.

According to Kimball, "The crass selfishness of modern day politicians has made us all dangerously mistrusting of each other and almost anything said or written. Ugliness has become contagious. Somewhere politicians decided it was more efficient to move us emotionally rather than persuade us intellectually. They push fear because it sells." He went on to say, "Campaigns have always been bitterly fought, but when truth can no longer catch up with the lies and selfish interests will not be set aside for the common good, they cripple our nation."

Voters have more information available to them about their candidates than ever before. The challenge is sifting through that information, determining fact from fiction, and boiling it down to determine how the candidate would be likely to vote on any given issue. Not only do we need more organizations like Vote Smart to get to the heart of the issues, but we also need a voter base willing to put forth the effort required to vote on the issues rather than emotion.

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  • Gas price is $4.22 and was under two bucks when Obama took office!

    -- Posted by dennis on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 10:08 AM
  • -- Posted by president obama on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 5:45 PM
  • http://www.mercurynews.com/presidentelect/ci_21545019/trick-question-who-had-hig...

    perhaps you could post some links next time or I could get on here and say something like, "gas prices in mccook were 98 cents a gallon before Dennis took office and now we pay over 4 dollars.

    -- Posted by president obama on Mon, Oct 1, 2012, at 5:50 PM
  • bigdawg, local officials do not control engery policies. the president does.

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 2:25 PM
  • really, you think he would give it away for free to get reelected. Im sure the oil companies and OPEC will be really suprised to hear this.

    still no links to back up your statememt.

    -- Posted by president obama on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 5:13 PM
  • *


    Just FYI posting links to opinion pieces doesn't really "back up" your statements. It just proves that you follow like minded people.

    -- Posted by Sir Didymus on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 5:26 PM
  • is it, or is it not more then he or you provided?

    Isnt oil traded on world markets?

    -- Posted by president obama on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 6:44 PM
  • Just an FYI, thats what came up on a google search

    -- Posted by president obama on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 10:41 PM
  • I don't mean to belittle the importance of finding sources, bigdawg, but I'm not sure how posting links by themselves as responses is a step up from posting an unsupported opinion. Especially when the first link was pretty much crap. (The second one actually seemed like a reasonable attempt at education, instead of just political mudslinging like the first.) You then go and make more statements without backing them up and tell others to do a Google search to prove your points. Seems a bit silly to do that after chastising others for not posting links.

    Your links are especially annoying because, with a little bit of extra reasoning applied to your Google searches, you could've found this. http://gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx

    This provides an objective chart of average gas prices, and extends far enough to show the prices under Bush's second term and Obama's first. It provides evidence that the viewer can see on his or her own, though it doesn't come with the backhanded insults that seem to be the norm for political debate on the internet.

    -- Posted by bjo on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 10:36 AM
  • i told no one to do a google search to back me up. I recommended he do one instead of saying that the president controls the price of gas. Sorry to have annoyed you but you are apperently very easily annoyed. In the future to spare yourself any annoyance i would refrain from clicking on links that I put up. It took me all of a few seconds to google search and post a link, good or bad. Is it too much to ask that Dennis post a link showing how the president controls the price of oil?

    Is Dennis right?

    "backhanded insults", like the one Dennis posted?

    -- Posted by president obama on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 5:19 PM
  • *


    I don't believe what Dennis posted was a backhanded insult. If anything it was a (very)thinly veiled accusation. If you are going to use terms, please try and know what they mean. Otherwise a person could run the risk of sounding like an idiot.

    -- Posted by Sir Didymus on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 7:20 PM
  • well sir, I guess your definition of backhanded is different then mine. I respect your right to think what you want of his comment. Its a shame you cant respect mine for thinking it was backhanded. I was not the one who brought up backhanded, bjo did and I dont like you portraying him as an idiot. If its an english lesson you are going to give let me start by saying there should be a space between (very) and thinly. If you are going to use puncutation please know how to use it correctly. That being said I realize that I am not the best typer or an english major. If you are going to hold me to this high standard, "if you are going to use terms then please try to know what they mean", then if you are going to type on these boards please use the proer puncutation, otherwise a person could run the risk of sounding like an idiot.

    what I would really like to get to is Dennis comment instead of you getting personal. Does the president control the price of oil?

    -- Posted by president obama on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 9:11 PM
  • I believe I know where your confusion is Sir. bjo called it a backhanded insult, not a backhanded compliment. The story above said nothing about gas yet dennis claims that the president controls the price of gas and he is to blame.

    I guess in my own uneducated back woods way that you seem to find so distasteful I would call that backhanded.

    does the president control the price of oil?

    -- Posted by president obama on Wed, Oct 3, 2012, at 9:34 PM
  • I apologize for not answering your question on whether or not the president controls the price of oil. However, if you're going to advise me- or others- to not view your links that you post as responses, then what purpose do they serve? Furthermore, if you're just going to post whatever result you get by searching with Google, without considering it, then how is it any better than dennis' seemingly unfounded statement?

    I don't recall calling dennis' first post backhanded- just your crappy blog link. However, what's funny is that it isn't a backhanded insult, it's a fact that you partially proved with your links! I'm not sure where you can find $4.22 gas in this country right now- it isn't that way in McCook- but my link and yours do indicate that gas prices had fallen below $2 when President Obama took office. Makes me wonder why you helped start this argument in the first place.

    -- Posted by bjo on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 12:28 AM
  • Though, I guess it was my bad to use the word "backhanded" in an ambiguous manner. Your sodahead.com blog poster wasn't really subtle, but reading his post felt like I was getting hit in the face with the back of his hand.

    -- Posted by bjo on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 12:32 AM
  • I advised you not to read them for the fact you seem to get so upset and annoyed by them. I posted them, in part, to show how easy it is to copy and paste a link, good or bad, just give me something for crying out loud.

    It would seem that my links are no better then dennis seemingly unfounded statememt yet I seem to be getting the brunt of the ire, odd.

    I accept your apology for not answering my question and did take note that you still didnt answer it, an empty apology.

    -- Posted by president obama on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 4:30 AM
  • *

    Besides...everybody knows that it's Bush and Cheney who are the oilmen and control the price of gas. (oil)

    -- Posted by Mickel on Thu, Oct 4, 2012, at 8:00 PM
  • Thank you Mickle, the democrats tried to blame Bush a few years back and it was just as stupid then as it is now.

    -- Posted by president obama on Fri, Oct 5, 2012, at 7:19 AM
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