Cramming For My Civics Test

In the past, leading up to every election day, I researched candidates and issues and had a pretty good feel for who would get my vote. I did this not only because I’m a big believer in the importance of voting, but because it was part of my job.
Today marked the first election held here since I switched careers. A few days ago, I realized voting day was approaching and I had no idea which races were even on the ballot. I knew about some of the major ones (how could I avoid all the ads!), but wasn’t sure who I would support. And the smaller races were completely unknown to me.
So last night, I spent what felt like an eternity using our local newspaper and the internet to dig through candidates’ websites and platforms. I didn’t like judging a candidate soley on their web content, but how else was I supposed to learn about them? It’s not like there were televised debates for the House District 162 seat. And I didn’t want to rely on TV commercials, because a 30 second spot can barely begin to tell you about a candidate.
Several of the candidates had good websites with a lot of information about important issues. My pet peeve, however, was websites in which the candidate listed important issues, but gave no indication how they’d create change. It’s like:
“I want to represent you in Atlanta. I think poverty is bad, education is good, healthcare is too expensive, and your tax dollars should be spent wisely.”
It’s a total cop-out. No one could argue against these things, but I got no better feel for a candidate’s vision or plan for attacking these issues.
There was one candidate who wasn’t afraid to write about the issues, but I found him to be a bit perplexing. He supports a woman’s right to choose, supports gay marriage, but said “We are being invaded by Mexico…” and dove into a tirade about the immigration issue. In one paragraph, he talks about how shameful it is that our country would deny rights to people because of sexual orientation. Then in the next paragraph he advocates for denying rights to Mexicans until they learn to assimilate into our culture. What if it’s a homosexual Mexican? Can he/she have rights or not?
And several candidates just need better copy editors. I liked this line on the website for a Secretary of State candidate, when he described some of his past accomplishments:
“…instituted compliance policies and procedures to ensure easily detectable fraudulent activity.”
I know what he was trying to say, but technically he’s claiming to have instituted policies to ensure fraudulent activity. Granted, the fraudulent activity was at least easily detectable, but the sentence structure still means he ensured fraudulent activity.
So I at least managed to entertain myself a little while doing my research. It felt a bit like last-minute cramming for a test. I made a list of who I liked, and memorized it before walking into the precinct. It may not have been the perfect way to decide my ballot, but I tried. I feel like if I don’t at least try, I forfeit all right to complain about government. Even if my person doesn’t win, at least I was part of the process. It was also baby’s first trip to the polls, and it’s a habit I hope she adopts in 18 years.