Due Diligence

Choices. It isn’t always about the lesser of two evils, but right now it sure feels that way.

We all, hopefully, have a wide range of friends with an equally wide range of political views. Perhaps some civilly discuss their differing views, but that has not been my experience. Some may invest the time and effort to do due diligence and research which candidate closely reflects their values, concerns and personal policies. I believe the evidence indicates most do not. Perhaps news agencies are providing us with information, but news agencies have become news shows. They are often laced with innuendo and subtle non-verbal cues on how to think.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 5.59.26 PMRecently I watched a political segment with Ben Carson. Regardless of if you are a Democrat or Republican, the point is to hear and listen to gain information and insight. He addressed the current campaign climate and remarked, “Somehow we must abandon the thinking that there’s a bunch of politically elite people who know what’s best. Let the people determine for themselves what they think is best and who they think is best to serve them.”

He went on to point out that it is the media’s job to ask the questions that would expose the candidate’s policies. The media should probe and provide unbiased information so the people can form their own opinions and decisions. The candidates should back up their responses with their policies and their plan to implement those policies. He stated that the media seems to be more interested in causing fights and conflict.

Perhaps he is right. Conflict and division is escalating across the country beyond the news stations. Social media outlets are displaying written responses to family, friends and associates that are ugly, demeaning and bullish.

So, lets ask ourselves why. What happened to civil conversation amongst citizens? Are we being subtly manipulated to buy popcorn and a coke? Knowledge and information has become todays currency. Powerful companies and powerful people know what buttons to push for us to react and then act. And they are pushing them.

Have we become too comfortable and complacent? Have we become reliant on our socially acceptable circles of influence and just accept the trickled down information that define our thoughts and values?  Or perhaps we have become to dependent on political parties or government leaders to plant and fertilize our thoughts. ‘They’ provide the selected items of information. Few consumers take advantage of the not so secret menu digitally available today. It takes too much time… plus the games on!

Have the masses become too committed to a particular political party? Let’s not forget our natural tendency toward loyalty. No one wants to believe they are just sheep following the herd, but consider  that following the crowd is occurring… on every side. The popular buzzword is echo chamber. It is real and we all participate whether we admit it or not.

Americans are fed synthetic, artificial, polluted and canned phrases everyday that have no intrinsic value. And we digest it. Everyday. It is in our music, our entertainment, our employment and at our dinner tables.

But hey! We still can think for ourselves. We can still act and react in appropriate and American ways.  Political leaders are hired to serve us.

Can we depend on the news stations to deliver unbiased information that enables us to vet out who most closely reflects our values and concerns? I don’t believe we can. The news shows are not concerned with educating the masses about the candidates’ political platform, their policies or their plan of action. News shows are called shows for a reason. Their job is to get high ratings which equates to revenue. Where does that leave us? We have to find, validate and understand the information ourselves. We then, each individual, gets to decide who reflects our personal ideals. You remember them, right? American integrity and America’s commitment to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

Instead, the algorithms  show that our interest lies in the sensationalism of the moment. And there are those who track and understand that information and use that information to showboat their agenda or degrade another’s.

How many citizens have gone onto all or any of the candidates web sites and read or listened with an open mind to each candidates ‘business plan’? It is right there, just a click away. Whoever is elected should be held accountable for what they are promoting and promising now during the campaign. Not just pieces of it. Not edited versions that make it seem like they are keeping their promises. We need to remember and whoever is elected needs to remember that our votes may bring you into your elected position and therefore we can take you out!

But the problem is America. We are diverse. We have different ideals, needs, opportunities and expectations. I have tried over the last several months to engage people in a productive conversation. Who were they leaning toward and why. Many hesitate unsure if they are in safe waters. I can see the wheels turning. Is this a person who hates who I hate? Do they belong to my ‘club’?

That is part of the problem. Do we only talk to those who agree with us? Do we only read articles that support and justify what we already have accepted as fact? Are we allowing ourselves to be exposed to the diversity of thought that can produce new insight, compromise, and solutions? Perhaps, but I sense more then ever that we discuss our ideas only with like-minded folk. It is validating and allows a venting session to privately bash, belittle and bully. It must feel good on some level, that bonding between bullies. I have witnessed it. It isn’t pretty and in my opinion, it isn’t American.

But I digress.

When I ask family, friends and associates which candidates policies they agree with many stumble and begin ‘the detract and/or deflect’ defense. Many just regurgitate the latest sound bite that was smart, clever and heard that morning on talk radio. And some even lie about knowing anything about their candidate or of even voting!

Who have we become? Each of us, really. Who? Do yourself a favor and hold your own internal investigation, and be honest. The president is a reflection of the American citizen, of you and of me. Is your candidate of choice speaking your words and expressing your thoughts and if so, is that a good thing?

So let’s commit to do our due diligence. We are Americans. We are educated. Evil should not have a place here. It should never have a place here.

“Let the people determine for themselves what they think is best and who they think is best to serve them.” Noble thoughts, Mr. Carson. Time will tell soon enough who we thought was best to serve us.   I personally do not believe that who is best for America is even on the ballot, and that is part of the problem.

Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. That just isn’t good enough for me. It shouldn’t be good enough for any American.







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