We get what we deserve in politics
Election year 2016. The men and women of the political arena peddled their wares like snake oil salesmen. Verbal contortionists, they pandered to our self-interests, to our prejudices and to our fears. Misinformation dominated the political conversation.
Personal and emotional issues were used to spark contentious conversation. We dug in our heels and refused to budge from what we perceived to be true. These “truths” were reinforced by our politicians. Both the conversations and the elixirs they peddled became polarizing. Our votes became polarized. When these votes were based solely on race or gender, they were clearly self-serving and often had nothing to do with what’s in the best interest of the nation; the same can be said for “single issue” and “faith-based” votes. Whether its gun control, gay and lesbian rights or abortion, any vote cast solely upon one issue does not serve our collective best interest. They are not only counterproductive, but they ignore other larger issues begging for our attention.
The economy, foreign policy, domestic policy, national defense, education and the environment, to name a few, are profoundly important to the welfare of us all. The most important vote we can cast is for the candidate who can best address all of these issues. But contrary to what our snake oil salesmen would have us believe, when they compliment us for our intelligence in backing them, our electorate is not well informed.
Issues facing our nation are extremely complex and require that the electorate do its homework. Unfortunately, most of us don’t even have a fundamental understanding of the issues. We are lazy thinkers. We lack the intellectual curiosity to study the issues or consider other points of view. When we read, we tend to read publications that reinforce our already pre-conceived notions and ideas. When we watch the news, we tend to watch broadcasts that support our views. And perhaps most troubling is the fact that more and more of us get our information from the Internet and social media, which often has no basis in reality. Conspiracy theories, misinformation and outright fabrications that are presented as factual are plentiful. Like our politicians, they prey upon our worst fears and prejudices. Using reputable scholarly publications and news sources as a way of fact checking is rarely done.
It would be unrealistic to expect voters to develop more than a fundamental understanding of the issues facing our nation; they are far too complex. But a basic understanding is achievable and necessary to understand what is required to address issues. Without such knowledge, we succumb to the emotional pandering of our politicians.
A well-informed electorate is imperative for sound political discourse. The better informed we are and the more reasoned our vote, the more likely we are to attract better candidates, hold them accountable and be satisfied with their performance. Until that occurs, politicians will continue to say what they have to, and do what they have to, in order to garner our vote
We get what we ask for. We have no one to blame but ourselves.