A Little Advice: How To Navigate the Presidential Election With Political Prowess (Simplified)

It’s that time of year again… Actually, it’s that entire year again.

Bring on the aggressive mudslinging commercials, the disastrous televised debates, and the never ending phone calls trying to convince you to vote for a person whom you’ve probably never heard of before.

This is what we have to go through every four years to elect a new President, Commander-In-Chief, and Leader of the Executive Branch for this great country we live in. Now, we might not be that great when it comes to healthcare, education, gun violence, sexism, and racial relations, but DAMN IT, at least we elect who’s going to screw us over!

It’s our right as American citizens!

So we put up with the awful commercials, we turn away from the channels that interrupt their regular programming with those annoying debates, and screen every call, just to avoid talking on the phone. Then at the end of the year, after all of this political avoidance, we head to the polls in November and blindly vote for whomever our party spent the entire year trying to elect as President.

FINALLY!

Thank God that’s over.

We did it you guys! We exercised our most basic and most rewarding human right as a responsible citizen of the beautiful United States of America.

Yay!

But wait…

This person you elected isn’t doing what you thought they were going to do! You can’t believe it! What an outrage! If only there was some way for you to have known that you would’ve been misrepresented. If only you would’ve had some way of learning about a person’s beliefs BEFORE you elected them! If only!

I’m going to stop you right there and not even let you finish your rant dripping with anger and resentment. Now, hear me out. I know of something that could have helped prevent all of this. I have come across an interesting invention that provides you with everything you’d want to know on any person running for any office ever. It’s called:

The Internet.

I know! It’s crazy, isn’t it?! This information super highway can be used for more than just Youtubing cat videos and leaving angry reviews on Yelp. It can also provide you with the complete voting history of almost every government official ever. In one simple search, you can find out anything! What do you want to know? There’s a webpage for that!

There are literally answers to every single question you could ever have on the voting process, how to register, who is running, and what policies/ actions/ bills various electives pushed for or vetoed. Are you an environmentalist and looking to save the planet? You can find someone who supports the reality of climate change, has voted “Yes” on policies supporting the usage of renewable resources, and make you decision based on that. Are you a conscious human rights activist? Why not look at a politician’s past and see if they’ve ever done anything to help bridge the gap between races, sexes, and religions. Are you an atheist or agnostic? You can literally look up who has upheld the belief of separation of church and state. Do you want a person who actually has a legit working government background? I would hope so! But if you don’t, you can find a person who suits that ideal too. It’s literally all there! And it’s not just on your computers!

You can even pull up a channel on your television and watch them deliberate, take votes, and pass/ veto bills in real time! Now that’s something.

We live in a time where ignorance is no longer an excuse and political ignorance can lead to your own downfall. When you come up disappointed with an elected official, no one else can take the blame. We live in a world where knowledge and information flows free and is highly accessible. Plenty of computers are open to public use and televisions are everywhere. A lot of places even tend to grant control over the channel on screen if their patrons are insistent enough.

Lets pay attention to those exact same phone calls you’ve been avoiding. That person on the other end of the line is actually calling to not only annoy you, but to also try to inform you on whomever is running. They can be your educational lifeline to a lot of information, even if you don’t have a computer. Those political commercials and stupid debates that are slowly taking over your television? Those are you personal access points into every candidate’s personality and beliefs. These give you an all access pass to not only their mannerisms and likability, but also how they will deal with the political issues at hand. Do they spend their time attacking others? Do they make faces and deflect? Are they actually answering the moderator’s questions? Do they outline any future plans if elected? Or do they just keep their responses open ended?

Do they seem trustworthy?

Would you trust them with all of your personal information? Your bank account numbers? Your social security? Your money? Your home? You overall well being? Your life in general? Your family’s lives? Your non-born family’s lives?

Remember, whoever you elect any government official, you are entrusting them with making the best decisions for you, your family, and the rest of the country. It’s a big deal.

This doesn’t sound like something you would want to do blindly, is it?

I would think not.

So why is it that people are so ready to vote for someone based on their party, and not their beliefs? Without even taking into consideration of person’s history?

Seriously, you wouldn’t trust your life to a surgeon without knowing how many procedures they’ve done. You wouldn’t trust a baby sitter without seeing their CPR certifications and references. I would like to assume that you wouldn’t trust a bank without reading their customer reviews, policies, and services offered. It only makes sense that you make the most informed decision when it comes to your personal life.

But why does none of this matter when it comes to electing government officials?

So, here’s what I suggest you do, outside of registering to vote and arriving at the polls in November. These propositions will not only help you avoid political disappointment, but they will also act as an aid in making the most educated choices for the candidacy. It doesn’t matter what candidacy.

Just… any candidacy really.

Look Everything Up.

Make sure you know who is running, what policies they support, what bills they vetoed, how long they’ve been in a government position, and their overall political history. Today, everyone has their own personal website that outlines what they’re for and against. There are endless news articles and government lists that outline a person’s legislative past. Nothing is secretive anymore. Political transparency is possible.

Be Informed of the Election Process.

If you don’t know what the electoral college is or even just the definition of a caucus and how that applies to the general election, you should find out. A giant positive when it comes to being informed is that it helps put together the pieces of the political process puzzle. Personally, I think knowing the language/ jargon is the most important step because it helps you follow along and understand every conversation about politics. It really brings the entire process in perspective. This information is definitely worth knowing and everything you could possibly want to know can be found online. If you don’t know something, look it up! Don’t forget, ignorance is no longer an excuse. It’s a little embarrassing being a U.S. citizen that doesn’t know how your own country is run.

Listen to those phone calls.

A lot of times, it takes hearing something from someone else to really make things click. Answer the phone and listen to the person on the other end. What are they saying? Can you learn anything new? Maybe they know something you don’t. Engage in a discussion. Find out why they are voting for their candidate. Sometimes all you need is that second voice to act as a confirmation. OR to make you reconsider you original presidential contender.

Watch those debates.

You can learn a lot about a person by watching them respond to others. A public debate is the perfect setting. Is the candidate your hoping for approachable, personable, and eloquent? Do they articulate their thoughts and policies in a way that’s easy to understand? How do they react to the others sharing the stage? In most cases, you want a person who will keep their composure and remain respectful. Public debates act as a glimpse into how they will deal with conflict and confrontation. No one wants to elect a person who can’t handle opposition with grace. This person is supposed to represent the U.S. as an elected official. If at the first sign of confrontation, a candidate becomes rude and resorts to below-the-belt antics, that person would not be able to handle the everyday strain of the local problems within the U.S. Not only that, but they would be incapable of maintaining positive, civil relations with the rest of the world. Is that the kind of person you want to represent the U.S. to the rest of the world?

Remind Everyone Else to Register WAY Before October 11th (and Don’t Forget to Push Your Candidate as Well).

Even though voting is considered one of the most basic of human rights here in the U.S., a lot of people aren’t registered. Even though you can register to vote when you go get your drivers license (if eligible), there are still quite a few eligible, unregistered, possible voters. Along with that, the U.S. has the lowest percentage of voter turnout rates in the world. Even newly liberated countries have higher rates than we do. It’s because a lot of people don’t see the point in voting. They assume that one vote won’t count. The problem with this logic is that when a large group of people don’t vote, each individual, in that collective, could have made a difference. In the 2012 Presidential elections, only 57.5% of eligible voters actually cast their ballots. That means 42.5% of eligible voters stayed home, couldn’t make it to the polls, or just didn’t register. 42.5% is a lot of people. If everyone reminded at least one person to do any of the above, maybe Obama would have had some competition.

(*OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!)

Remember There are Other Ways to Cast Your Vote.

Did you know that in most states you can register to receive your ballot in the mail? It’s called filing for a “no-excuse absentee ballot.” Most states permit this because it saves time and money on election day. If you register for this form of voting, you can fill it out in the comfort of your own home. I love this because it encourages those who don’t want to leave their houses to technically cast their votes, without having to deal with everyone else rushing the polls. Not only that, but it gives people the opportunity to look up the other candidates running for various government positions. Not only only that, but people have the chance to to look up what the new suggested amendments and policies that are also up for vote on the ballot. I personally love voting by mail in ballot. In fact, after my first year of voting, I switched because I was able to make more informed decisions on who I wanted watching over my family and me in my state. I didn’t allow myself the excuse, “I didn’t know what it said/ who this is, so I just guessed/ left it blank.” That’s how laws you don’t want get passed, and officials you don’t know get elected.

For more information on other ways to cast your vote, click here:
http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/absentee-and-early-voting.aspx

Know WHEN You Can Vote.

This applies to the voting done before the general election in November. Before any presidential candidate’s name hits the final ballot, there is another election you can cast your vote to try to ensure your front runner makes it to the finals. Starting in March, most states allow registered voters who qualified BEFORE the cut off date to take part in what’s called the Presidential Preference Primary/ Special Election. Now this varies from state to state. Some states still use the outdated caucus as a way of selecting their presidential nominee, but most have switched over to the registered voters powered primary system. Depending on the state, it will either follow the open-primary or closed-primary format. This will determine how you can vote for these elections. If your state is a closed-primary state, you can only choose from the candidates your registered party has provided. Which means, if you’re registered to vote democrat, you can only cast your vote for one of the candidates representing the democratic party. If it’s an open-primary, you are allowed to vote outside of your registered party. This is just as important as the final presidential vote in the November general election because this makes it more likely that the parties will have a candidate that the people will actually vote for.

To see if your state holds a Presidential Preference Primary/ Special Election, click here:
http://www.mytimetovote.com/2016-Primary-Election-Dates.html

If you follow these simple suggestions, you will never have to worry about another election again. In fact, you might never have to leave your house to vote either.

You’re welcome.

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