I’d like to take this opportunity to share with college students – who are either first-time voters or unfamiliar with the voting landscape – the importance of being informed and just what that means.
First, know that everyone has an opinion. Our opinions are influenced by our surroundings. They are a result of our social interactions. They are an estimation of the quality of something – not necessarily based on fact. It becomes hard to separate fact from opinion when a great number of people share similar opinions. This is where bias begins. Bias is an opinion or attitude we have for or against something, and it stems mostly from our feelings about something rather than from rational thought. Every single one of us is biased in some way or another. The stronger our biases, the harder it is to differentiate fact from opinion.
Many of our biases are handed down from opinions of our parents, teachers, leaders, friends, etc. The most important thing is to examine the source of our biases. Ask questions! Ask “Why do you believe this?’ or ‘Why do you think that?” Then go and investigate for yourself if these claims are true, partially true, or skewed.
With regard to choosing a candidate you hope to become the next president of the United States, make sure you not only validate your candidate’s point-of-view but the opposing candidate views as well. If you’re going to make a decision that is informed, then you need to learn all you can – facts and fallacies alike – about your choices.
Please don’t make a decision just because your favorite entertainer supports a particular candidate, or party. If your favorite entertainer does support one candidate or party over another, be smart and find out why. Decide for yourself if you agree or not. You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t smart, so use what you have in your head to create your own mold, and to be a responsible voter.
It really isn’t enough just to know all you can about both, or all, of the candidates. You really need to understand how government works and how a president can affect change. What is the presidents’ job description? As president, will he/she have the autonomy to follow through with the changes he/she is proposing? Or, will the president need the approval of congress in order to follow through with these changes? Is congress aligned with either candidate so that proposed changes may take place or is congress aligned in a way that will prevent these changes from coming to fruition?
Once you know the candidates, and understand how the government works, you have to decide who to choose. Do you want to choose a candidate whose stances are more in line with your own, or do you want to choose a candidate based on his/her ability to make changes that are the best for our country as a whole? In other words, would you chose a candidate because of possible benefits for yourself alone, or for the good of the nation? Or, if you find throughout your own investigation, that any of the candidates would make a good president, there are other questions you could ask yourself such as: What does this person’s past performance indicate about his/her ability to be a good leader? Does this person have the experience I think will make him/her a good leader? What do I know of the people closest to this person? Are the candidates’ closest friends and advisors trustworthy? Do I trust this person to make difficult decisions?
I hope you’re able to see that in order to be a responsible contributor to the leadership of this country you have to do your own legwork. Don’t rely on others opinions when you are capable of thinking for yourself. I hope this letter helps someone better understand the importance of being an individual. You are capable of your own thought and decisions.