I’m hoping that the fact you have come to this web site means that you care more about government than the average person. If you care about government, how we do government, and who is doing the work of government on our behalf, then this article is for you.
I’ve alluded  to this before, and I want adequately convey, that a knowledgeable, thoughtful electorate will help ensure that the best people represent us, and will be able to hold politicians accountable.
“Knowledgeable” means not just watching the 15 second sound-bites, but watching debates, reading up on candidates’ positions, and looking for independent resources that assess candidates’ records. It also means seeking to understand the issues, how they impact Americans, what the history and background are on the issue, and how all parties speak to the issue. Sometimes a position is important both in what is said and what is not said.
“Thoughtful” means taking the time to really think through an issue, and not to take a position simply because a party, candidate, respected person, friend or family says to. Everyone has their own way to analyze and think through issues, and being thoughtful means taking ownership of the position based on ones’ own guidelines.
For me, researching topics on the Internet, in newspapers, interacting with politicians, listening to people who are deeply involved in the topic, reading historical content regarding the topic (where applicable), and asking my wife and my other family members and friends are all important aspects of becoming “knowledgeable” about a topic. I try to include sources from both sides of the political spectrum if available, and when thinking about Constitutional questions, I like to refer to any source material that is available such as the Federalist Papers.
My “thoughtful” part goes like this: I try to abstract topics out to a higher level where possible and determine where within my own principals the topic falls. Then I try to analyze what I’ve learned within the context of the applicable principal(s). I also try to assess the real impact on people in terms of short term and long term events and policies.
And reaching a conclusion is sometimes the hardest part. Like many Americans, my heart goes out to the needs of individuals, the lost dreams, lack of satisfaction, desire to reach out to something better. To those that are struggling because of disasters whether natural or self-inflicted. Especially to children.
And the challenge is to keep one’s heart and the real needs of others in front of ourselves as we make decisions, but recognize that the conclusion we reach may be hard to swallow. Either because of the cost (financial or in lives) or because meeting everyone’s needs becomes clearly not the right answer for the Government. Our temptation is to create programs that take hard decision making, especially if on a case-by-case basis, away and makes the process easy. The answer that feels right isn’t always the answer we know is right.
Life is full of hard decisions. Life is full of hard times, and hard work. LIfe is full of realizing that things we think we need are really things we want. Sometimes, what seems like suffering is really just inconvenience.
That’s my approach, and I don’t expect it to be yours.
I really want to encourage people to think for themselves, and not to simply let the current talking head manipulate their choices. Check into the candidates running for President, US Senate, US House, State Legislators, Governor, City Council, and even Dog Catcher. Find places on the Internet where people are talking about the issues. If you don’t know where to start, shoot me an email  and I’ll do what I can to help.
Talk to people you know about the issues. And reach your own conclusions. And decide how best to vote based on your conclusions. Your opinion matters, and your vote matters. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
And, feel free to use The Conservative Reader as a place for discussing these issues. I’d be very interested in knowing how you make these kind of decisions. Leave a comment on this post.
So, are we all paying attention? I hope so.