Thursday, October 02, 2008

Voting? Turn to the Web

If you hadn’t heard yet, there’s an election coming up.

I’ve not fully decided who I’m going to vote for, for President, anyway. I’m getting close, but I tend to hold off on announcements. The candidates aren’t exactly fighting over my endorsement anyway. Even if they were, that’s not the focus of this article. This is all about how I’ve been arriving at my conclusions.

I’ve been frustrated, both this season and in elections past that the mainstream media (television, press, etc…) seems to be interested less and less in issues and plans, and more and more in reporting on the foibles and name-calling of the candidates. As an avid follower of “the new media”, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and twitter tweets. Much of those, also, are more interested in pointing out why their chosen ‘date is the best and why the other should go away and crawl into a deep dark hole. Very few seem to point out anything of real substance.

And the candidates themselves seem to revel more in short sound-bites and one-liners (mixed in with the frequent barbs at the opponent), rather than actually spelling out their plans.

There’s actually a good reason for this. That’s what the public is asking for! We tend to catch up on what’s going on by watching 2-3 minute short reports on the morning shows, and skimming the headlines and the first paragraphs of the newspapers. Television producers edit down campaign speeches, given in front of throngs of cheering admirers, and pull out the most clever, the most inflammatory, and the most exciting five to ten seconds of the hour-long speech. It ends up being little more than watching a minister preach to the choir.

There’s a segment of both the populace and the punditry that have been decrying this trend. “Don’t just criticize the current administration! Don’t just try and make us afraid of your opponent! Tell us what you’ll do differently!” they call out.

That’s where the web comes in. I decided, last night, that I was also sick of the shallowness of the campaign so far, and began to research the candidates in earnest. I started visiting their websites and reading their positions on issues of interest to me. I wanted to make an informed decision. Here’s the steps you should go through to do your homework before election day.

1. Make a List

Of all the things that all the ‘dates argue about, which ones matter to you? The war in Iraq? The economy? Education?

2. Prioritize

Of all those topics, which ones are really the most important to you? Are any of them deal-breakers in your mind? As you’re setting them in order, also jot down notes about how you feel the government should deal with each of those issues.

3. Check Who’s the Strongest on Your Highest Priorities

Then, hit the candidate’s websites. I’ve listed them in reference below. Check them out and see which ones most closely match your stand, your values, your beliefs in your most important areas. Keep in mind no one candidate is likely to match your views on all the issues. You want to pick the one that matches your views the most closely on the most critical issues.

That’s who you should vote for.

Remember that the things you read on these sites are campaign promises. Once the candidate is in office, he/she will have lots of pressures to adapt to. Keep in mind that neither candidate is in office yet, and so neither one is privy to information that they will receive upon entry to the white house. Also, they will have to deal with congress debating and voting on everything they say they will “fight for”.

You never know exactly what will happen. Even still, voting, and casting an educated ballot, is a privilege many of us take for granted.

In Alphabetical Order:

Chuck Baldwin - Constitution
Bob Barr Libertarian -
John McCain - Republican
Cynthia McKinney - Green
Ralph Nader - (Independent)
Barack Obama - Democrat

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

1 comment:

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