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Thursday, April 16, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

During these uncertain times it can feel like just about the most we can do is keep placing one foot in front of the other. Jobs are dwindling, money is tight, people are sick. With the ever-mounting problems of the present, small wonder few of us are in the mood to consider the future.

But we better start getting comfortable looking down the road — and fast — because the decisions we make during the 2020 election season will likely be the most consequential of the past few decades. Put another way, if the pain we now endure on account of the coronavirus is bad, it will pale in comparison to what’s in store if future leaders get the rebuilding wrong.


In November, Americans will vote — one way or another — to re-elect President Donald Trump or usher in Democrat, and former vice president under Barack Obama, Joe Biden. Gubernatorial elections will take place in 11 states and two territories. All 435 House seats are up. The Senate will have 33 contests, plus two special elections. For good measure, add state legislative chambers into the mix.

We hope you are getting the picture.

Now, under normal circumstances the effects of our perennial journey to the polls, except on the margins, seem unremarkable. Another representative added to a gridlocked, do-nothing Congress is hardly noticed. But as we have witnessed in the past few weeks of trillion- and billion-dollar disbursements from the federal government to the states, electing people that understand what they are doing on both ends of the process is crucial.

So it’s time to ask ourselves, how well do we know the platforms and policies of the men and women we are about to elect? How high is your confidence that, if he makes it to the Oval Office, Joe Biden could rebuild America? Does he have a track record of success to back up nice-sounding phrases slick political pollsters wrote for his campaign site? What about your local member of Congress or governor? Would she or he understand where, when and how to move resources around the state to help people most in need after the post-coronavirus peak?

If we are being honest, the answers to these questions are probably “no,” even during the best of times. Politics, with its petty squabbles and dishonesty, can leave even seasoned observers jaded and frustrated, which ultimately leads to disengagement. Or course, politicians know this is the case and take advantage of our ignorance. And many of them are counting on the corona-crisis to distract us from policy blemishes.

With this in mind, spend some time — it doesn’t have to be long — visiting the websites of the politicians involved in the races that affect you. You will have to sift through the normal political verbiage meant to describe the candidate in the most glowing terms to the greatest number of people, but it should present some useful information. For instance, a quick glance at the Biden platform shows he is in favor of “fully resourcing the World Health Organization,” a United Nations organization President Trump has accused (credibly) of “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” Right there, in just a few moments of research, you will have uncovered a signal difference between the two candidates. If an incumbent is up for re-election, look at their track record. Did they support things that matter to you? Are they fighting for you and your family? Again, even 15 to 30 minutes of Internet searching is better than simply going back to the polls and mindlessly pulling the lever for someone who may not be in your corner.

With the unceasing hardships of the present, researching political candidates is likely bottom of your list. But it shouldn’t be. What’s decided over the course of the next two, four, or six years will change the rest of our lives. Now, more than ever, our votes count.


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