It’s that time of the year again! That time when Americans are bombarded by generic promises cooed through shiny white politician teeth. Also a time when America’s top dog and his biggest rival play highschool mean girls- talking mad shit behind each others backs (on national television). Every time we turn on the TV, we can’t help but be reminded how much America sucks, and that it’s all home boy’s fault; or, conversely, how much America is going to suck if dude man takes the big seat. It’s interesting to see how campaigning has evolved in our lifetimes from commercial reruns to twitter and Facebook newsfeed bombardment. Obama has been BLOWING up our e-mail accounts, yo! Each side is trying it’s damnedest to infiltrate our minds and hearts and social networks with their platform propaganda. So much so, that we wonder: are we too overwhelmed with input to even get the message? Is the message even worth getting? Is anyone really going to change their vote anyway- Americans are fervently divided on this one. Because you probably already know if you’re a political Blood or Crip, we are mostly here to make sure that you get the fuck out there and exercise your vote- you know, that thing that catapulted America to the forefront of civilization many moons ago. We want to make sure that we haven’t forgotten that we live in a nation that allows citizen input, and we want to remind ourselves to care about that!!
First of all, the basics. Election Day is Tuesday November 6th. But in some states, you can also vote early for like 2 weeks before d-day; see if your state is an early-voting state by clicking here. If you are not registered to vote yet you can and should figure out how to do so by filling out a form to mail here, or by researching places to register near you (Public Schools and Public Libraries are usually qualified to register you). If, on Nov. 6, you are not going to be in the state where you are registered, you will need to submit an application for an absentee ballot (if you are living in a new place for college or something, just reregister with a new address!) If you’re gonna do the absentee thing do it early so you don’t miss the deadline and your chance to vote, and avoid getting looks of disgust from your friends that care about stuff when they ask you if you voted. This year, your vote is especially important because the country will go in vastly different directions depending on who wins. If you are a U.S. citizen and have not committed a felony in the last 5 years, we really don’t buy any excuse you give us for not getting out there and casting a ballot. Even if all you do is vote for Willy Wonka. (PS: in most states felons can have their civil rights restored)
Political conversations are springing up everywhere- deal with it. Better yet, take some time and read something that’s not fed to you by FoxNews, CNN, or a commercial paid for by one of the candidates. Being ignorant about politics and current events is so 2010. This election raises a lot of issues that can and will directly affect you- like, maybe you don’t want healthcare until you’re 26. Go vote about it! You spend a lot of time on the internet anyway, so why not do your own independent research on some stuff. This isn’t just for the sake of adding in your two cents either. We the people of the United States need to up our well-informed-and-involved-in-civil-society game. Europe is making fun of us. Don’t let Europe make fun of you, be prepared to debate- and vote- intelligently.
Issues You Should Know About:
- Obamacare: “Obama Care guarantees that Health Care is available to any legal U.S. resident who cannot otherwise obtain “good” healthcare through their employer.”
- Environment: “Romney is of the opinion wherein the solution to our environmental problem lies in adopting a market approach. While solving the environmental challenges, we should also be supporting growth”
- Gun Control: “Throughout Obama’s Presidency, even as he’s done nothing to make firearms less freely available, the N.R.A. has maintained that he is coming for America’s guns. In fact, leaders of the organization now argue that the fact that Obama hasn’t pursued gun control during his first term in office is proof that he plans to do so if he’s reelected.”
- Education: “Other nations have made as great or greater a commitment to higher education than we have, particularly in engineering, computer science, and information. Today, they graduate more than two times the number of students in these fields as we do.” (Romney)
- War in Syria and Iran: “Romney has said he would consider military action in Syria if the war-torn country’s chemical weapons were at risk of falling into the wrong hands. Obama, who has opposed military action in Syria, has made similar remarks, calling it a “red line” for the U.S. if Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime were to use chemical or biological weapons.”
- Economy: “This is no time to turn back. We have to continue to move forward,” V.P. Biden said. “Folks, I am absolutely certain — there’s not a single doubt in my mind — that we are on the way to rebuilding this country stronger than it was before.”
- Immigration: President Obama announces that his administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the US as children and have since led law-abiding lives
FYI, our favorite news outlet is the nonprofit Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) because they can always be counted on to deliver neutral coverage of stuff that makes a difference in our lives.
Commercials regarding the campaign should (obviously) not be taken seriously unless you have the Super PAC APP.
Jenifer Hollet and Dan Siegel founded the Super PAC APP in order to give commercial viewers the opportunity to learn the truth behind campaign-funded advertising. The App, available for iPhones, works like Shazam by tagging aired information to identify the commercial and receive third party information. “The Super PAC App allows the user to rate the ad, while understanding who and how much money is behind the ad, what claims the ad is making, and whether those claims are based on facts.” (superpacapp.org) If you have an iPhone you can get this app for free and you should definitely do it before you believe a single thing those commercials tell you!
We (sorta) don’t care whether you side with Obama, Romney, or think “Obamney,” is a lost cause. We know you care about something and that’s why we are encouraging you to seek out information from trustworthy sources.
And now, a rant and call to action, as much to you as to ourselves: There are mad problems in this country. We the people are so flabbergasted at the insanity that goes on in our Government that we don’t know what to do anymore. The signs, like the police force at our Constitutionally protected protests, are everywhere: America is in a sorry state. We’ve got one side of the picture figured out: politicians are (mostly) corrupt, greedy, dishonest, disconnected, and possessed by evil forces. They’ve sold our agriculture, environment, health and overall well-being to the devil to pave their campaign trails with money so that they can stay in office and continue to fuck shit up. That part’s pretty easy. But there’s gotta be a flip side to this equation…they hold public office…we are the public…they can only remain in office with our votes…WAIT- there are other elections besides the Presidential election?! And these elections might actually matter?! Oh no. Changing things might take a little bit of effort on our parts. A little something beyond going to the polls once every Novemember. All those politicians that are selling our souls to the stock market- they get elected too! But the only people that vote in congressional and local elections are, like, retired. And maybe that’s why lots of those guys in Congress look like they should be retired. Our system is not broken. Our motivation to participate is. We aren’t even really taught how to participate anymore. There was once a day in the nation’s history when being a “good citizen” meant more than buying American cars; it meant engaging in the governance of your community, your state, and your country by showing up to vote, by meeting with your neighbors to discuss what’s going on in the neighborhood and beyond, and by possibly actually contacting a local politician or two to let them know when you’re pissed about something. Our democracy only works when both sides are making input. American democracy needs our energy, our voices, and our votes in order to function properly. So lets start with Election 2012, but maybe this year let’s make a pact with ourselves to keep it going into 2013: find out when our local elections are, actually look up who’s running and what they care about, and go out with grandma and cast a ballot for an office other than President. Through participation, we DO have the power to change the face of Congress and politics in OUR country.
And if nothing changes once everyone starts participating, then at least we will have more ground to stand on when we raise our voices in protest.
From now on, Sparkleberry Lane promises to keep you up to speed with opportunities for civic engagement.
Christina and Jessica, who wrote this article together.
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