By David Hegg
With just over a month until primary elections here in our state, and with November already staring us in the face, it’s time to talk about voting choices. No, you won’t find endorsements in this column but what I will do is suggest some strategies for getting factual information and making wise choices before you enter the voting booth.
We all know the barrage is coming. Soon the media will be churning out commercials, testimonials and endorsements meant to make our choices easy. They will start out being informational, and eventually turn into intentional exaggerations and mean-spirited, usually groundless accusations. Just remember, the choice shouldn’t be easy.
Next will come the ubiquitous campaign signs. I often wonder about the strategy here. Am I supposed to think a candidate is more worthy if his or her signs are plastered in groups of five? And I always wonder about the color choice. Do you suppose paid political operatives stay up nights arguing with candidates that red and blue beat green and yellow seven out of 10 times?
And already, the plague of robo-texts and pre-recorded phone messages has hit. You know, the ones where we’re supposed to think some nationally known figure happens to have the time to text or call me personally and ask me to support a candidate or ballot proposal. Are we really that gullible?
I think the answer is “yes.” Here’s the problem. Professional politicos know most voters are lazy and want someone to tell them who to vote for. They have learned we can be swayed by edgy commercials, a flurry of yard signs and celebrity endorsements. They are betting we’ll let them do our thinking for us, but our democratic system only works if we vote and do so intelligently.
So, here are a few suggestions:
1. Forget the commercials entirely. Refuse to be manipulated by scripted sound bites produced by professional filmmakers. Do you really think you’re getting the whole story?
2. Remember, the guy with the most signs is just the guy with the most signs. You’re not electing a marketing team; you’re selecting a person to represent your point of view.
3. Read all you can about candidate views and records. Most election headquarters offer position papers and other materials that will allow you to hear what the candidate really thinks.
4. Attend some “meet and greet” events. Get face-to-face with the candidates and have some well-worded questions ready for them to answer. Then, assess just how knowledgeable they are, how able they are to think and articulate their views, and whether they appear trustworthy.
5. Lastly, if you find a candidate worthy of your support, support them. The best candidates are often the least funded simply because they refuse to toe the party line.
6. Don’t skip out on the primaries. This March, we will decide who will advance to the General Election in November. That means those who vote in the primaries will decide for everyone who we’ll be able to elect in November.
7. Prioritize your local community’s political opportunities. For example, the race for district attorney in Los Angeles County has monumental consequences for all of us. The rise in crime in our region is directly tied to the decision to allow certain levels of crime to go unpunished. We are all paying higher prices because theft has become an acceptable activity in our stores.
The elections are coming, and they are critical. Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you. Think, study, discover, and then vote. You’ll be glad you did, as will the rest of us.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.