I hear people say all the time that they don’t pay attention to politics. They don’t get into that stuff. And politics can be dry. That’s why now you have a bunch of TV shows that are geared toward controversy to keep people entertained more than informed. But many times, some people are not into politics simply because they do not know how to follow politics.
What I mean by that is there is so much information. Who are you to believe? These days, it is so ugly and mean spirited that it’s hard to blame you for tuning out. Everybody wants to tune it out. But if everybody did, we would no longer be a nation. A few people who want to take advantage of controlling the levers of power of people by being a part of the government would have unchecked control over our laws and thereby, our lives.
So to follow politics, first, you have to realize the service that you not only are giving to the rest of us, but we each owe it to each other. So start with the positive attitude that how you feel and what you think does make a difference if you exercise your right to vote. It’s not just a right, it is an obligation. Benjamin Franklin said that this was a good government, ‘if we can keep it.’
Part of “keeping” it is being a part of it and participating in elections; elections and say-so that used to be reserved solely for the wealthy and the white.
But mainly, voting and having a say-so in how we are governed started out as a thing for men who owned property. As we have evolved, we have become more perfect over time by moving and progressing with the times.
Now, we are faced with an effort to try to stop or reverse the progress that we’ve made. By most polls more than a supermajority, sixty percent, of people believe in safety net programs like Medicaid and Medicare. Most people believe that women should have the right to choose what happens inside of their bodies. A vast majority of people believe that government officials should act like adults and work together. Well, the people are required to do the same.
There are unreasonable politicians because there are unreasonable people voting for them. But if more than the average thirty something percent of people who usually come out to vote on elections, then the majority would rule instead of a few hot-headed partisans.
With that in mind, knowing how crucial your vote is to the proper governing of this country and knowing that it requires you to pay attention and be mindful of the people that you vote for, here’s how to follow politics:
- Eat news daily. Take an hour out of each day to read the news. That can be divided up, fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there, but ingest some news every day, know what is going on around you.This can be as simple as listening to your local news while you’re getting dressed in the morning and following up the stories that catch your attention online or at lunch or later in the day.
- Be selective with what you “eat.” When you choose news sources (radio, TV, newspapers), make sure that their information is coming from reliable sources.
- o Read and listen to a variety of sources, don’t just watch one station or read one paper.
- o Beware of conflicts of interest. A BP executive is not the best person to get an unbiased opinion from about the oil spill in the gulf.
- Ask questions. Sometimes the language of Washington, D.C. can be disorienting. But if you look things up, you’ll learn something new every day and you can be build confidence in your own opinion about politics.
- Get both sides of the story. Most hard-line positions are formed because of an inability for opposing sides to look at an issue from the other side. Listen to all sides, and then make up your own mind.
- Distinguish between opinion and reporting. Reports should just give you the information. Opinion should express a point of view. Don’t take someone else’s opinion as gospel truth.
- Make up your own mind. Talking politics can be a lot of fun or it can maddening. You don’t have to search hard for an opinion on politics. And it is good to have people whose opinion you respect and trust. But be sure to make up your own mind and use common sense.