Free Elections OR You Get What You Pay For

With the presidential election  less than a week away,we have a very real responsibility to study issues and candidates and decide for ourselves how we will vote.  A tremendous amount of money has been spent during this political campaign to convince us as individuals that a particular candidate is the the one most deserving of our vote, the one best suited to filling the role of President in the White House.  Unfortunately the political arena and the press are becoming increasingly polarized.  There is no neutrality in Whoville these days.

From the Word Geek:  (All quotes are from the Word Geek.  Thank you)

“The fourth estate is the public press, referred to as a collective and encompassing photographers, journalists, television broadcasters, and radio announcers, among others. Many people generally agree that the fourth estate has immense political and social power, thanks to the fact that the press can be used to shape societies while imparting news of note and commentary of interest.”

Traditionally the newspapers have prided themselves on their neutrality, reporting facts, letting the public sort out the details.  But I am afraid that today the press gives us no alternative but to determine who is the biggest liar  and which candidate we choose to believe.  Listening to the news and political commentary is not enough.  We have to do our own legwork, fact checking, researching, listening, and looking at the products produced by our candidates. The fourth estate has ceded its claims of neutrality, but still holds tremendous power and influence.

“The origins of the term “the fourth estate” are best explained within the context of the medieval “estates of the realm.” In medieval society, three “estates” were formally recognized: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners.”

Many politicians would have us believe that today there is no room in politics for the clergy.  They could not be more wrong.  Today more than ever we need leaders with moral courage and we need citizens with moral courage.  The clergy gives a counterpoint to politics.  It gives us a moral compass.  And despite the denials, most political decisions are in fact moral decisions.  I don’t want a theocracy, I want balance.

The nobility today seems to be sitting in the White House, and when I listen to the explanations (or lack thereof) on issues and life and death decisions such as those we saw unfold in Libya, I am inclined to say the Emperor wears no clothes.  Just believe–believe what I say today, forget what I said last week or two minutes ago.

The commoners must be us, the middle class.  And we can and must wield the power we hold as a part of the estate.  Do your homework, Cast your ballot.  Restore balance.  We are not too stupid to vote.  We are not too apathetic.  There is a cost in choosing our leaders and we will get what we deserve.

“The press plays a very important role in most societies, reporting on a wide variety of topics and creating powerful personalities who are relied upon for sources of information and commentary.”

We cannot be swayed by a cult of personality, or by ridicule, name-calling, or outright lies and shameless distortion of the facts.  The press has become in many instances a part of the problem.

“Journalists are careful as a whole to protect the integrity of the press, protecting sources, verifying information before publication, and using a variety of other techniques to convey a trustworthy appearance to the public, encouraging people to put their faith in the press.”

It is up to me and you.  We must be careful to protect the integrity of the election, verify information, and use a variety of other techniques including the internet and the freedom of information act to chose a trustworthy candidate and vote with the power of our convictions.  The press is polarized.  Don’t be afraid to step across the line and see what is being said on both sides of the aisle.  And don’t be afraid to trust yourself.  On November 6th vote for the candidate who best fits your views for our future and for our country.

About Karen Hopkins

Karen Hopkins (1949-) was born in Los Angeles and raised in Martinez, California. At seventeen she moved to Talcahuano, Chile. After completing her university degree she worked in London, England for Pan American Airlines and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India. For twenty-six years Karen taught Spanish and English as a Second Language in a variety of settings including a private school in Panama, the "most remote school in the United States" in Ticaboo, Utah, the Navajo Reservation, and a teacher exchange in Hermosillo, Mexico. Karen and her husband traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Central America, spending many summers in the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala . Karen currently lives in Southern Arizona, near the Mexican border.
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