GOAL: Hit the Mute Button when political commercials come on.
As a voter, you should have a reason to vote for a candidate. Even if that reason is a feeling, it should be based on something real.
When you form your impressions and opinions from TV ads, you are hurting our democracy in two ways. First, you are allowing yourself to be misled. It is almost impossible to give you any real information in 30 seconds. Second, you are rewarding that candidate for spending a lot of money on an ad. TV ads are unbelievably expensive to produce and broadcast. They are probably the most significant expenditure in major campaigns.
You need to vote smarter. Don't be a chump. I donít believe that if you only knew the truth, you would vote a certain way. But when the parties' research shows that an ad campaign works, then that encourages them to spend more money that way. And it makes the parties and candidates more vulnerable to the big contributors. If they don't run ads, they will get defeated. So they need more money to compete.
Hit the mute button when a political ad comes on. Then do your own research on the candidates. Talk to well informed people that you trust. Avoid pitches that are paid for by the candidates. Take the pledge below.
If everyone followed that pledge, we would take the power of money out of politics.
• I will vote responsibly.
• One month before the election, be it primary or general, I will obtain a copy of the ballot1 for my precinct to confirm who the candidates are.
• I will learn about each candidate by reading publications or researching the internet.
• For every race, I will find out when there are candidate forums or debates, and I will attend those forums or watch them on cable access or the web.
• I will seek independent sources for information and talk to people that I trust.
• If I am an intuitive rather than analytical thinker, I will base my judgments on direct observations rather than the image that is fed to me by the advertising agencies working for the candidate.
• I will avoid commercials and other content paid for by the candidates or interest groups.
Do you have any suggestions about how to improve the Voter's Pledge? E-mail me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
1Available at sites listed at VoterHomework.com
If you haven't yet done so, see Why Voters Get the Shaft which explains the value of the Voter's Pledge. And don't forget the Political Ad Spoofs which give fun examples of how bad these ads can be.