In the United States, we have been given a precious gift: the gift of democracy. As with any gift, my faith tells me that I have a responsibility to be a good steward of the democratic process that has been entrusted to me. It's a responsibility that many, myself included, far too often take for granted. I'm not big into new year's resolutions, but I think a big one for me this year is to make sure I am as informed as I can be when it comes time for the presidential elections in November.
A question that ought to be--and hopefully will be--in the forefront of my mind this year is this: which presidential candidate should I vote for?
In Nebraska, in order to participate in the primary, you have to be registered either as a Democrat or a Republican. Frankly, I'd prefer to just remain a registered independent, but if I were to do that the electoral process would take a relatively important tool out of my hands.
So I'm registered with a party. Frankly, it doesn't matter which.
Because in the end, I really couldn't give a rat's patootie which party a particular candidate has decided to align themselves with. Just tell me where they stand on the issues, how they plan on running things if elected. Yeah, you'll see similarities within each party. But you're going to see a number of differences too. and you'll see plenty of similarities across party lines, whether folks want to admit it or not.
The biggest problem is cutting through all the campaign b.s. to get to where the candidates actually stand on things. I've found a good tool is a candidate selector quiz. There's a number of good ones out there. Their purpose is to do the research and the cutting through the b.s. for you. You answer some questions, and then you can see where different candidates stand on issues relative to where you stand on them.
Now, these are only tools. There's no substitute for doing your own research--watching the news, reading magazines, checking out the candidates' own websites and position papers and such. But the quizzes are a really good jumping off point. And if you take 3 or 4 of them and see a candidate or two popping up at the top of the list more than once, maybe that's a person that would be worthwhile doing some more looking into.
On that subject, I'd definitely recommend taking few of 'em. Because no matter how hard these quizzes try to be clear and unbiased, they all ask the same questions in slightly different ways, they all assign different values to different issues based on what they ask (and what they don't ask). And so you'll probably see different results depending on how the quiz is set up. But again, after taking a few, you may see some trends beginning to develop. And those trends may be worth exploring.
Here's a short list of some that I've run across:
Candi-Date (by PoliTalk.com)
Candidate Match Game (USA Today)
VoteMatch Quiz (by speakout.com)
Select a Candidate (by Minnesota Public Radio)
Blessings to you all...talk to you again next year!