Be Informed and Engaged

I worry that we’re not getting enough of the news that we need to make informed judgments as citizens.

— Walter Cronkite

In case you have been hiding out, not walking or driving along any street where thousands of political yard signs align the medians and front lawns of countless neighbors – or, perhaps you’ve been unable to access television, a radio, newspapers or any other media source, you may not be aware, it’s election season.

It is important that we become an informed and engaged citizenry.  We should seek to understand what issues we are facing at the local, state and national levels and make an effort to formulate our own opinions about those issues.  More than an option, being informed and engaged is really a responsibility.  And, if you haven’t heard it from your partner or spouse, your mother, your best friend, your colleague, or just about any other person with whom you have come into (socially-distanced) contact with in the past several weeks, allow me to state for the record, it’s your right and privilege as an American citizen to VOTE. 

Especially for those of us who identify as women, people of color, non-landowners, et al, we are standing on the shoulders of people who really sacrificed so that we have this right.  Failing to vote denigrates them and, ultimately, us. While America is exceptional in many ways, if we fail to uphold this responsibility, we open the door to those who feel they can impose their will upon us with means other than votes and that will mean the end of our country.  Whatever side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, I believe we have no greater civic duty than to vote and let our perspective be heard.  It’s what truly separates the United States from so many other nations.  And, indeed, the only way we can ensure that every vote counts is for everyone to vote!

And, by the way, I know that, especially this year, millions of Americans – probably many of you – have already voted.  Thank you!  Too often, however, I hear from people that they are not going to vote because they don’t know anything about the issues, they haven’t heard anything about the candidates, they don’t believe their one vote will matter anyway.  So, whether you’ve already cast your ballot or not, it is useful to know that there are a plethora of resources available to us.

So, in order to ensure you are informed and engaged, consider the following:

  • Talk with a Family Member, Friend, or Colleague.  Find trusted people in your life – on both sides of the aisle – with whom you can exchange ideas, talk about your hopes and dreams, share your misgivings, gather information.  The value of being able to have a friendly discourse and debate with someone who you are not aligned with, but for whom you have great respect can be enlightening and informative – both about their opinion and help clarify your own.
  • Attend Events, Listen to Podcasts.  There are so many virtual events going on all around the country – many are even being recorded for on-demand replay – along with podcasts on a whole host of topics.  Most of this information is available at no charge  One organization with which I am deeply involved is the non-partisan, American Public Square, which brings together non-like-minded people to improve the tone and quality of civil discourse to find paths toward actionable common ground on tough issues.  Check out their “Cocktails & Politics” series and podcast, “Both Sides,” to learn about currently-hot topics in politics and more.
  • Visit Websites.  Public officials currently in office, along with people running for office, all offer websites which outline their points of view on important issues.  There are also other websites that provide valuable information such as allamericans.org, allsides.com, American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institute, CATO Institute, choosedemocracy.us, electiontaskforce.org, fivethirtyeight.com, Heritage Foundation, livingroomconversations.org, and protectdemocracy.org.
  • Read Stories from Multiple News Outlets.  It’s no secret, many media outlets strongly favor either a conservative or liberal perspective on societal and policy-related issues.  If you listen only to one side or the other, it is impossible to be able to form your own perspective.  Pick an issue – any issue – then go see what The Atlantic, The Bulwark, CNN, The Daily Beast, Fox News, MSNBC, National Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and/or any other news source has to say and pay attention to the words they use to report it.  Take in all that information, then determine your own point of view.

Do you have other ways that you have ensured you are an informed and engaged citizen?  Do you have news sources or resources you would recommend?  Please take a moment to share your ideas, methods and sources with the CLC Community at blog.coffeelunchcoffee.com.

Tomorrow’s the day… Go Vote!  Happy Networking!

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