The following editorial appeared in the Mankato Free Press.
The election is over and voters had their say, but we’ve only begun to fight, to use a phrase from the American Revolution.
Voting is simply the first step to citizens in America exercising their rights as the Declaration of Independence says to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Declaration also gave the breakaway colonists a right to revolution, something that seems more appropriate this year.
Unfortunately, today’s revolution will involve more than dumping tea in Boston Harbor. That would likely elicit a fine from the Environmental Protection Agency, and rightly so.
Influencing Democracy in 21st Century America is pretty tough work. It takes patience, it takes a willingness to study the issues, know the facts and make our case.
It appears we have a ways to go in the area of knowing our facts. A recent Bloomberg news poll showed that likely voters were somewhat uninformed about three key issues that have caused much of the angst in this year’s election. Those voters by a two to one margin said their taxes had gone up under the Obama administration even though 95 percent of working Americans got a tax cut under the stimulus plan passed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. Couples got relief of about $800 each and possibly more if they had children in college or where unemployed.
In the same poll, 61 percent say the economy is shrinking while the facts show it has grown for the last five quarters and has grown 3.1 percent in the last year.
Finally, 60 percent say funds the government gave to banks for a bailout will not be recovered. In October, the Treasury Department reported it had recovered most of the $245 billion lent to banks and will make a $16 billion profit on that part of the Troubled Assets Relief Program.
Unfortunately, the Democrats appear to have at the very least fumbled their messages. And that’s their own fault.
Being informed, of course, is tougher than it used to be. There are plenty of media out there calibrating our attention spans in a way that puts us in the market for products of anger on cable news shows. Informing people does not appear to be as profitable as it once was.
The part the citizens need to remember is that when we vote in uninformed ways we will get the policies we demand, regardless of the facts. Something to think about on this day after the election.
This editorial, published Nov. 3, is reprinted with permission of The Mankato Free Press.