An informed electorate is important in sustaining a democracy. We’ve just completed a presidential and vice-presidential debate, and will see two more presidential debates. I’ve just read some factchecking from the vice-presidential debate which suggested that accuracy was a bit scarce. What specific recommendations would you make to individual voters as to how they can become informed voters? Feel free to list and/or link to resources.
First, the problem with linking to sources is that they will reveal me to be liberal/conservative by those who would link to other sources. We are entering a fray wherein the American electorate is convinced that facts are ideological opinions. If you disagree with me, says one voter, then your facts are biased. So, in a society were we can no longer trust the discussion to be somewhat objective, how do we insure others are informed? How do we insure we are properly informed and not actually blinded by our own facts?
We are taught at an early age to educate ourselves, but even this is getting tricky. For instance, in my son’s third grade civics book, the Judiciary is assigned the role of making sure the laws are fair. We may appease ourselves and think that this is just a simplistic way of describing the role of the Court, but it is a gross mischaracterization of duty of the Court. Laws do not have to be fair to be constitutional. So, how we do insure we aren’t dealing with facts dumbed down?
First, we have to understand that educating ourselves does not entail confirming our previous suppositions. While there are rarely two sides to any issue, books such as these help to display the viewpoints of the issues and allow for some critical thinking. We have to be willing to force ourselves into reading opposing viewpoints. Read books like this for help in understanding why this is important. Because the truth is rarely completely on our side.
So, what would I recommend? First, look at foreign news sources, such as BBC and Spiegel. Canada may even contribute as well. Then, look at small town papers, generally yours, to see what the editors are saying. Then, get on google. Avoid HuffPo, FoxNews, and (MS)NBCNews. Go to the Christian Science Monitor and Al Jazeera English. Inform yourself of what is being said, how it is being reported, and how it is being received by others. Like any good exegete, look for the phrases that stand out to you and dig beneath those.
But always, always be ready to listen primarily to those who oppose you. I used to listen to Rush every day of the work week, even as I progressed in my political coming-out because I would then be able to know what and why I disagreed with them.