Do Your Homework Before You Vote

Living in America is awesome and nothing shows this better than a presidential election year. There is nothing like the democratic process to really show how free we truly are. Other countries, even democratic ones often prove not to be even as free as we are. But freedom comes with a price. Yes, we are free to make our own decisions but this also gives us the freedom to make mistakes – and this can be painful to watch. It is a bit like being a parent. You can know that the decision your child is making is not going to work out for them but as a good parent knows you have to let them make their own mistakes so they can learn from them. I am just having a tough time being as good of a citizen as I am a parent and frankly, after living with the Bush administration for 8 years I’m really not interested in living with other peoples mistakes for another 4 years.

OK, I could live with self-defeating decisions if I honestly felt they reflected the true values of the majority of the country. But what really gets me is when smart people don’t do the due diligence to test the validity of media sound bites, fall for Orwellian rhetoric and vote counter to their stated values.

In my mind the McCain campaign has run a disastrous race thus far. They have spent little to no time explaining what they plan to do for the country – only promise that they can fix it – “Trust us, we know what we are doing”. I’m sorry but I’m not a blind faith kind of girl, I need a little more to go on than that. They have spent most of their time being critical of the Obama camp, which wouldn’t be so bad, if they didn’t stoop to such ludicrous attacks that do not hold up under any kind of scrutiny. They keep insisting that Obama will raise your taxes, his medical coverage plan will cost you more money and that ‘your’ wealth will be taken away to be given to some undeserving person, all of which even the most cursory research will disprove. Unlike Palin, I can name a few of my resources – try the Consumer Report’s examination of the two candidates’ plans, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s run on the figures between the two tax plans with examples for the average single person, the average household, average small business and an average larger size business, or how about the Time magazines continuous coverage of the two candidates on economics, taxes and medical coverage plans. I could go on but Katie Couric isn’t listening to me. I’m sorry but the idea that McCain’s plans for the country have been misrepresented by the ‘liberal’ media doesn’t wash. It only takes the average intelligence of a 5th grader to see through any liberal white wash to find the basic facts – I know this because my own 5th grader has been studying the election in social studies and neither he, nor any of his classmates have fallen for any of the half truths, contradictions or circular arguments from either camp. They have examined this race with the clear, unemotional eyes that I wish more voters would. What I see, however, is people with certain hot buttons voting their emotions because they have allowed one of the candidates to push those buttons, not because they have examined their values, and done their research to look for which candidate represents those values.

I realize that I feel my values are the best values – that is why I have them and why I am trying to teach them to my children. I have, however, gained enough maturity to realize that there are other sets of equally valid values but I feel that too many people have developed their sense of values more by accident then by choice and as a result have many conflicting or misunderstood values that are virtually impossible to resolve into any kind of useful platform from which to operate. You cannot make good decisions that support the life you want to lead if your values are in conflict.

I realize that in the next 5 days the average American is not going to be willing or able to examine and rewrite their entire value structure but is it is possible for each and every voter to take a few minutes to explore what drives them in this election and what they truly want in a candidate. I entreat anyone who is willing to put the effort in to use the GRIP model as a template for examining their goals for this race. It is the perfect tool for exploring what it is we truly want from our politicians, for washing away the double talk, the spin and the filters and get down to what truly matters to each of us. We owe it to ourselves, to our country, to our children and to the entire ideal of the democratic process to take some time to delve into what government means to us and what we want out of it so that we do not fall prey to the most negative side of campaigning.

An explanation of the GRIP process can be found at Soaring Mountain Enterprises as a free, downloadable e-book. It is a simple process that will help you to walk through the evaluation of a simple goal statement – in this case related to what you want in a presidential candidate – and will help you to determine what information you need and what actions you need to take to ultimately satisfy your goal of finding the candidate that suits your values.

We are only now beginning to realize what a wonderful tool the GRIP model can be for political analysis – before the next election look for our new book Get A GRIP On Politics!