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Writer's Block: Voting

What criteria can voters use to make sure their ideology is actually supported by the candidates and propositions they vote for? How can we view the real world effects of our votes?

Well, there's researching their track records in earlier office. One of the things I look for is that the opposition is likely going to list every single inconsistency in their voting record with their stated principles.

One that I trust a little deeper takes a different analysis. I start looking in depth at the tone of their prose and the things they say when they're up. I look for certain catchwords and vaguenesses to get an idea of their paradigm. I watch for gaps and inconsistencies. I watch for ignorance. I watch for lack of understanding and for the nature of their slipups and for philosophical statements that sound like vague platitudes -- that if carried out would be completely at odds with their stated message. Do they beat a lot of vague platitudes or do they start getting down to nuts and bolts of how to make their ideas happen? How do they handle failure? How do they handle setbacks?

Someone who's going to be hypocritical on a big scale is going to show it usually in a lot of little ways in issues they think no one's watching. I've seen some of them get away with some ludicrous inconsistencies and amazing levels of hypocrisy. But if they are self consistent and any changes of policy come with a trackable change in outlook, then I start to think they may actually be voting conscience and thinking about what they're doing instead of just going for the money and saying whatever sounds good.

Dismally, a great many of the Presidents that I've disapproved of were very clear about what they were doing. They spun it to sound good and came up with froth like "Trickle Down Theory" and the damage they did was something they flat-out announced long before they did it! I don't see too many of them suddenly changing camps into a completely opposite outlook. Instead what I look for is the dark side and ugly consequences of the bright things they are offering right in the pitch.

They don't tend to hide things like "I'm going to spend more on the military" and if they're planning on massive corporate welfare, spin it with ideas like Trickle Down Theory.

It's easier for them to sustain half-truths over the long term than it is flat lies. Who'd get elected specifically to represent his opponents' point of view and go nuts campaigning for everything he was against? Why, when that'd actually raise support for his opponents?

Follow the money is also good. Where are the contributions coming from and what do those lobbies expect in return?

You can't be too careful. But generally a politician is going to be pretty clear about which flavor of pork barrel will be offered, and what flavor of legislation snuck in on the tail of popular legislation.
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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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