The Chronicle’s View: Political mud pie

The mud has officially begun being slung.

Utahns, in a (albeit belated) barrage similar to the one swing-state voters have been forced to endure for months, are getting a glimpse at the uglier side of politics with the biased, slanderous, fact-bending propagandized commercials touting and decrying gubernatorial candidates Republican John Swallow and Democrat Jim Matheson.

Much as the rest of the nation has been force-fed one-sided televised statements about both John Kerry and George Bush’s personal character (meant to play on the voting public’s emotional beliefs as opposed to rational decision-making abilities), Utah now has a bitter little battle of its own going on-between the minority liberals and powerful Republican voting constituencies.

Not surprisingly, since Utah is never made to deal with presidential slander commercials (due to our state’s historical imperative of Republican voting) some Utahns are ill-equipped to deal with such partisan attacks and are consequently choosing their candidate-of-choice based on incomplete, very often misleading “facts.”

Swallow’s commercials effectively paint Matheson as a renegade, dangerous liberal in favor of partial-birth abortions, while Matheson’s commercials make Swallow out to be an eco-terrorist without an environmental conscious.

But, as opposed to citing legitimate, Congressional data in support of their claims, both parties are taking creative license with the facts to attack not the stances of each candidate, but, in a despicable fashion reminiscent of all that is wrong with American politics, but rather to attack each other’s character in an attempt to generate votes based on emotional response, not empirical evidence.

This is an inherently flawed perspective in the sense that something as subjective and unknowable as personal character cannot be taken as a concrete basis for something as important as an individual’s vote. What ought to be the deciding factors for vote-casting is the irrefutable, explicit rational behind platform-oriented decision-making.

However, the question becomes, how can an issue-savvy voter get away the scope of propaganda in today’s modern political environment?

The short answer: Turn your TV off, for starters.

It is no secret that even trusted news sources such as CNN and Fox have political leanings and often slant the news one way or another. While this is a less obvious form of coercion, it only highlights the fact that the potential for political subversion is high.

It is each voter’s obligation to research the issues that concern him or her from multiple sources, making sure to always consult the very accessible, and very truthful Congressional voting records.

It cannot be stressed enough how important voter edification is-without substantiated understandings of what is going on in the world of politics, Americans and Utahns alike are liable to get stuck with leaders that turn out to be nothing like what was expected as a result of voting based on emotion instead of logic.

The point is not to vote one way or another, but rather to not do yourself the disservice of rendering your vote arbitrary by way of ignorance. It’s your voice, and it’s worth it.