Jonathan Kraut: Choose truth over fear


Hoping the voting public will ignore important qualities a candidate may possess, a large dose of cheap shots and unproven allegations are here again in 2016.

Unfortunately, these simplistic attacks by political rivals are common because they work.

Should we ignore or succumb to representations that may not be true? The real dilemma with elections may not be with deciding for whom to vote, but with having to come to terms with an out-of-integrity political process.

Cable news ads and fliers brand candidates as “too extreme” and “too dangerous,” as though tossing out a simple label is enough to scare away votes.

It would seem mailers, hit pieces and cable ads are geared at influencing dull-witted bombasts eager to vote for or against someone based on a supposition or claim that may not be true.

If you examine this most recent exercise in democracy, you know that lying and misrepresenting is rampant, an integrated part of our political fabric.

The Supreme Court has ruled there is a free-speech right to lie and misrepresent in politics. Here is the real problem: Misleading information and lies are allowed.

I see the legalization of misleading information and mischaracterization of events as one cause for our tendency to follow simplistic processes to determine for whom we cast our votes.

Culling through all the garbage often leads us to make quick decisions without close examination.

What also scares me is that some of our neighbors ignore the character and decision-making elements altogether and follow fear over truth.

Some end up voting strictly by denominators, which include non-issue or non-party-based factors such race, religion, group, ethnicity, neighborhood or gender. I cringe when a person selects a candidate only because of a common trait and ignores pertinent qualities.

A key-issue vote is one based solely on a single issue – such as immigration, the environment, military strength or jobs – regardless of other factors. At least key-issue voters have something of content in mind.

Some simply vote because of party affiliation, even if the candidate has demonstrated bad character, is against key issues the voter supports or exhibits poor decision-making.

Others use “character” in choosing candidates, including qualities such as trustworthiness, personal conduct and ethics. Character does count.

Local Assembly candidate Dante Acosta has been accused by a woman acquaintance of inappropriate conduct, which may or may not be accurate. Acosta’s opponent, Christy Smith, has been portrayed as selfish since she voted to raise Newhall School Board members’ salaries, including her own.

There are deeper stories here. I would ignore both complaints.

Cable news ads against 25th Congressional District candidate Bryan Caforio argue that he is a “Beverly Hills attorney” and therefore “he is not one of us.”

We will see if this simplistic-denominator attack by the Steve Knight campaign has any traction. Knight, on the other hand, has been accused of being “in the pocket” of “special interests,” a character attack. I would ignore both allegations.

Trump has proudly boasted of sexual misconduct and has had numerous accusers. He downplays these allegations and his past comments, all while pivoting to highlighting his decision-making skills.

But his personal decisions show Trump keeping lots of money while stifling his financial backers. To me, Trump’s penchant for personal gain over ethics as a business practice means he has failed both the character and decision-making tests.

Clinton has my vote because of her experience in government, while Trump has none, and I think it’s trivial that a private computer server setup for her personal emails may have contained some business emails. If you ignore unfounded allegations and stick with character and decision-making, I think you will agree.

Wise voters should cast a vote by selecting the best person to serve on the public’s behalf, rather than using a single, possibly irrelevant or false factor as a reason to cast or deny a valuable vote.

A week from today Trump will complain that the system is rigged because he lost and will sue for slander those who have made truthful allegations against him.

We are not a thin-skinned, complaining, lying, greedy nation, nor should we be represented by anyone with these qualities. While local races are tough to call, Clinton clearly is the candidate who will create a more stable and prosperous world.

Jonathan Kraut directs private investigations and private security firms, is a published author, Democratic Party activist, and SCV Interfaith Council member. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.

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