This was posted on Attackerman on May 17, 2008. Some of its points are no longer relevant, i.e. including Hillary Clinton, but the sentiment is still existent.
Getting and staying responsibly informed on political issues is hard work. I have no data to back me up, but I would venture that most lazy U.S. citizens rely on meager sources to help form their opinions.
The first source is the home. Until one is old enough to view things through one’s own eyes, you view them through your parents’. This is how racism and abuse perpetuates. Once one gets up some size and views things differently than your family, it’s often an alienating fork in the road.
Now one is bombarded with sources of information on which to base views. Friends, television, the internet. Most, if not all of it, are biased. One gravitates towards like-minded sources. It becomes an echo chamber of thoughts and ideas shoring up one’s own formed or forming opinions. It’s overwhelming. So, the resources are winnowed down to something manageable within one’s life, yet still unchallenged by opposing viewpoints.
Even if one were perfectly evenhanded in the use of resources to form one’s opinions, the environment itself biases those opinions. Most U.S. citizens, unable or unwilling to travel to different countries and cultures, have beliefs colored by knowledge of only their country and way of life.
Being liberal minded, my resources are mostly also liberal minded, but I make myself check in on opposing viewpoints. I spend a lot of time yelling at the computer or television screen, wondering how the hell anybody could look at the situation and think the drivel they put out in the universe is sound. (Malkin I will forever find suspect because of her conservative views on Japanese Internment during WWII-no matter how logical it may sound in your xenophobic insanity, you don’t snake your people and you don’t do it in public.) However, I check them because I think it irresponsible of me not to. I also check websites and blogs of those not in this country; I found one in the comments section of one of my posts and will continue check it.
I suspect a conservative minded seeker of equanimity would think the same of my left wing blogroll.
Of all the resources at my disposal, which one is the truth? Short of seeing things with my own eyes, which television station, website, blog will give me the unvarnished, unbiased facts? Few, I would venture to guess. I would have to see it with my own eyes and decide.
The same is true of this presidential election. Short of having McCain, Obama and Clinton over to my house for a weekend gabfest and barbecue where I can look them in the eye and grill them on their policies and see how they handle themselves unguarded, I can only judge each on what I observe through the filtered prism of a screen with pundits screaming what they REALLY mean when they say whatever.
Spencer says things like “Gee I can’t on Saturday. I’m going to Afganistan.”
My niece, who travels often to Africa, has friends who were lost in Kenya’s upheaval. She reports that “I am ecstatic to report that my friends in Nairobi are alive.” On the domestic side, that same niece has lost more friends than I can count to violence here at home. She says things like, “I’m down because my good friend was shot and killed in an altercation.”
These are sentences I have never in my life uttered.
I am a coward. I am a coward living a comfortable life. I am a coward living a comfortable life in a comfortable country with comfortable people running it. If given the opportunity to travel the globe to see things for myself, I would sweat that opportunity.
Of course, one never knows what one is capable of until tested.