Many politicians that are in election cycles release ads that paint them in the most positive light as possible. These ads talk about how much money has been saved over the years, or about how stricter rules have been employed to prevent fraud in a program. These ads usually feature the politician mingling with children or having a personal sit down with concerned citizens. The images conjure up feelings of family and community, of wanting to help people to succeed. These images usually make us want to support the politician even if the basis of our support is rooted on good feelings.
There are also those political ads that will attack the opposition or instill fear in uninformed voters that may be considering the other guy. These ads take a page out of the cliche horror movies. The ad features scenes with little light and ominous music. There are usually children or a family sleeping while someone is moving around in the darkness. Many times these ads will feature a television on with various famous real life villains giving speeches that make them look like monsters. Are you scared yet?
So what can voters do to get beyond the political ads. First off, if you really want the truth, make a list of what the claims of the ad is. Does the ad claim that the person helped pass a particular measure? Does the ad claim that a person made a particular statement? Listing the claims that mean the most to you will go a long way figuring out where YOU stand in the debate. Once you have listed the claims, do some research. I don’t expect everyone to know every possible fact about a candidate. However, everyone needs to know the basics about a candidate. Try using google searches for basic information on the candidates. Also look for websites that offer “at-a-glance” looks at the candidates. These sites can be instrumental to determining if a candidate is worthy of your vote.
Once you have gotten the political stances and ideas of the candidates, now is when we really get into the truth of it all. Many of the available information will quickly confirm or kill the claims made in the political ads. However, what if the ads really make no claim. There are ads that will make statements on what the goals of the candidate is. These statements can be detailed or they could be excruciatingly vague. One popular statement is to end waste. End waste how exactly? What waste are you talking about ending? These questions are rarely ever answered. So what do you do? Simple. Get involved in the community! Call, email, or write the candidates personally and ask them questions that you feel are important. Ask them to explain their plans for the community and what is the ultimate goal for their term in office. The more we ask of our politicians, the more we can expect back from them!
In politics and life, there is nothing more important than people doing doing their best. If we can keep the pressure on our politicians, we can then make sure that the things important to us will be addressed. If we fail to keep them honest, we will wind up at the end of the line. Do you want to be heard? Get involved!