The Dark Side of Politics: Us Against Them vs. Responsible Voting

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I've always wondered where the taboo in political and religious discussion came from.  It seems that when people start talking about these two deeply held beliefs, they get defensive and are quick to personal attacks. And this year is no different with the political posturing of both parties (again, I say parties instead of candidates).  Perhaps it is because of the inherent need for Americans to "win".  We live in a very competitive society for which rewards are only seen in a complete and overall domination in a desired area.  As such personal victory is the only thing that matters, whether or not one is actually part of the process.  For example, sports fans are dedicated to their team, often cutting down the fans of other teams because of their "loyalties".But it doesn't stop there, many a flame war is driven by someone's need to be right, and another's need to prove that they are more knowledgeable.  And so it continues through to other aspects of life.  The need to "race" against each other to see who is the best is deep-rooted in the human psyche, it seems.  But sports fans and others like them are willing to accept their teams flaws and understand why they didn't win.  And yet this doesn't happen in a political pundits are unable to accept the loss of their candidates.  Why?  What makes the process so difficult to understand?  The first reason is the process in which elections are held.  People have the right to vote, and people make the decision.  Because it's not really in the power of the candidate to win based on a set guide of criteria, often a defeat can be crushing.  Hence (at least in my mind) the reason why Democrats have been so bitter the past 8 years, and Republicans the 8 years before that:  They just couldn't understand why they lost.  Generally 3rd party candidates are blamed for the loss.  It kind of makes you feel sorry for Ralph Nader and others like him. The second reason is because "better" and "best" is such a subjective definition when it comes to politics.  Politics reflect a person's base value system.  One votes for a person based on their perception that the candidate best reflects their values.  Some of these values are based in real issues (i.e., war, economic needs, etc.), and others are based on superficial concerns (gender, race, age, wealth, eye color, etc.).  Either way, the candidate needs to prove to the majority of people around them that they are more likely to rule in their favor.  Us Against ThemOne popular method of getting the support from people is to turn them against "THEM".  No, not the giant ants in a popular 50's horror film, but rather the ambiguous "them" that are against us.  How are they against us?  They don't have our values.  They don't care about us.  They want us to lie in the gutter and die as they manage to steal our money, land, children, and kidneys.  "They" are determined to see us dead and dance merrily on our graves while our children are slaves to their will.  In short, everything we hate they are, and everything we are they hate.  Is there really a "they"?  I don't think so.  People, in general, are good.  They want to do what is best for all persons, including themselves.  And so they look for ways to do that.  What is the saying?  "The road to hell is paved with good intentions?"  Everyone wants to believe they are doing something for the good of all.  Politicians (and people in general) have seemed to tap into the fear of a "them" in order to generate more votes.  Talks about "being out of touch with the average American", or "they are just too popular to really know what is going on" merely feed into that concept of a "them" out to destroy us.  It is all based on fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  Responsible VotingSo how do we combat the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) around political pressures and make informed decisions?  Educate ourselves!  Get to know the candidates, the parties, and the platforms that are being bandied about.  Use resources to see track records of candidates, look at the issues that are best for you, and who better embodies those issues based on real results.  Resources that are best are those that are the least biased (notice i say leased biased.  No person can claim they are not biased, nor that their products are not biased).  I find that actual roll call votes from the Congressional sessions are ideal, because you can see how people voted at a given time.  Likewise the same roll call votes from the Senate are just as useful, particularly if you are looking at the candidates.Next, look at each party individually.  Filter out the partisan bickering and finger-pointing, and get down to the core values that they hold.  Remember that "I'm not another Party" is not a position.  Just because they oppose another party doesn't make that party responsible.  Look at the goals they are trying to accomplish, as well as those that are absent.  Which are the most important to you?  Finally, I find that it is by far more important to be unaffiliated to a particular party.  This is my personal choice, but it gives me the freedom to look at both parties without worrying about potential loyalty guilt.  Of course there is a drawback:  I can't participate in the primary elections for many parties, and as such have little control over who does end up representing me.  So, I hope this post has made some sense.  Hopefully I can convince someone out there to look past the rhetoric and look at the real issues at hand.  Don't look at the person, look at the people they will hire to get the job done.  Who will be their staffers?  Who will be in the Cabinet?  Who do they support in Congress, or the Supreme Court?  All these issues are just as important as whether or not they will be the oldest person to sit in the Oval Office, or the first person of their race (or gender).  After all, in this day and age, isn't is time we got past the whole bias on age, race, gender, etc?  Are we not supposed to be a more tolerant generation?Anyway, my 2 cents.