The April 24th, August 14th and November 6th are all days scheduled for voters to go to the polls in Connecticut. The first two are dates for primaries when candidates seek to gain the endorsement from political parties to become their representative during the campaign for the November elections.
The election process is long but does it deliver the best candidate? Today, campaigns are different; they have evolved into something never imagined a generation ago. The role of media with structured sound bites, the internet with social networks, and an age of instant communication have changed campaigns and the way we view those seeking office.
In 1905 the primary way to communicate was the printed word and everyone had to read about positions and accounts of the candidates. Some voters would see and hear a candidate speak from the rear of a railcar. It wasn’t long before radio brought the voice of our candidates into the home. But it was 1960 that things really began to change with the live television broadcast of Presidential candidates debating. The visual impact was a game changer suddenly the opinion of voters was moved not based on ideas but on appearance.
Today with so many more opportunities and interests available less time is spent on deep political investigation into the ideas and qualities of our candidates. Today images are crafted, speeches based on conviction and belief have given way to filtered readings from a teleprompter. What is a voter to do?
Can we depend on one of the two political parties to select a candidate and then depend on their endorsement and label as a guarantee of performance if elected? I think not, and it reminds me of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right. Meantime nature is not slow to equip us in the prison-uniform of the party to which we adhere. We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression.”
A voter in America has a freedom to vote but with it comes a responsibility to our nation to use that vote wisely being well informed on issues and ideas of the candidate. The easy route for any voter is one of conformity to march with the crowd. It is when we look within ourselves reflecting on our own core beliefs and visions that we discover the candidate that deserves our support.
Perhaps Emerson said it best when he said, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world.”