Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Project Vote Smart

Action speaks louder than words. Don't listen to what candidates and your elected officials say. Look at what they do.

At Project Vote Smart, you can do exactly that. Every candidate and elected official is listed on this site and you can look each of them up and see a library of information on each of them organized in five categories: biographical information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances, and interest group ratings.

This site is a wealth of information and does what it was intended to do...educate the public. Often, we make voting choices based on the 30-second soundbites, rhetoric, and straight-up lies that are projected to us on a daily basis. At Project Vote Smart, we can now make choices based on solid information, straight-forward information, and truth.

The founder of Project Vote Smart, Richard Kimball, had some very important words to say in the introduction of Project Vote Smart's 2006 Voters Self-Defense Manual . I think he hit the nail on the head:

"Recently reading about Alexander Tytler, a Scottish historian at the time of the American Revolution, put our challenge in fresh perspective for me. He made the most persuasive arguments against Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Washington I have ever heard.

He said we were doomed to failure, for if you began with bondage that might lead to the courage of revolution, and if revolution were successful that would lead to liberty, and liberty to great abundance. But eventually abundance would lead to greed and selfishness, which would bring about complacency and apathy. This would inevitably lead us back to dependence and a return to bondage.

He felt that in a free self-governing society the masses would eventually learn that they could vote themselves gifts from the [federal] public treasury and that would lead to their end. That was, of course, the general position of the world in 1776, and the nation’s founders worried about it.

They all worried...that if they did this weird thing and cast out power to the masses, in the words of Washington, it “would recoil upon us.” They feared that “factions” (their term for political parties and special interests) would organize and strip the people of the one crucial component to self govern successfully: accurate, abundant, relevant information.

That is precisely what the Project is struggling to prevent. The modern candidate has simply found it more economical to move people’s prejudices and fears. In a 30 second commercial you can do that, but you cannot discuss a concern facing society and the options for dealing with it in 30 seconds, so there is no longer any effort by the political parties to do so. As one leader of my own party once argued with me, “It is not our job to educate, Richard. It is our job to win.”

I don't think it's possible for me to disagree any more than I already do with that last statement from the unknown politician and apparently Richard Kimball doesn't agree either.

Don't make your choice based on what you see in the media; the media is crap. It's owned by those with an agenda and you will never get the total truth. Don't even trust blogs; they are full of opinions too. Trust facts. Facts are displayed in your elected official or candidate's voting record. Facts are displayed in the list of campaign contributions your elected official or candidate receives.

Granted, you won't have this luxury with candidates who have never held office before but you do have this luxury with the majority of those whom we are to vote for before the primaries. Use this luxury. It's there for you, to empower you, to empower us as a nation.

Incidentally, when the presidential campaigns started some time ago, I used Project Vote Smart on some of the candidates whom I had a particular view about. After seeing their voting record, my views were affected, and rightfully so.

I encourage each of you to test your own favorites. It's a Free Country, and in a free country, it only makes sense to use this opportunity.

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