If you’re a political junkie like me, you’d likely discover there is no such thing as an off-season for elections. Campaign planning begins years before we ever see the faces of contenders and their contributors. Some election cycles get more coverage and national exposure than others, which lead us to believe that elections happen less frequently than they do. You don’t necessarily have to be entirely familiar with the process to know that the United States presidential election is THE election of elections — and after heavy media coverage of several candidates, with one person standing at the end, we, the people, are exhausted.
Elections give us an opportunity to do the obvious — which is to exert our civic privilege and duty to vote. It is around this time that constituents begin to feel empowered; their single vote can determine the fate of a nation. Universally, our concerns vary; some of them are valid concerns many can identify and others are irrelevant ideas based on misinformed inflated opinions of the candidate. For our individual reasons, we get swept up in the spirit of political game, and become enablers who seal our own fate, often based on ignorance or lack of proven merit.
I am not about to imply that we should not trust our leaders. But I do believe that we give them a generous pass at accountability, because we fail to do our part. How many times did you read some troll’s comment on Facebook, proclaiming that one candidate is a complete idiot? Some people bite and engage in this discussion. Even though I normally regret asking, I sometimes do ask people, “Why?” After all, you stepped onto your soap box, you have blared your thoughts through the megaphone. I am hooked, now share your thoughts.
I often find that these thoughts are not very well articulated, much less based on actual facts, or reliable sources. I suppose the operative word that is normally a point of contention for me is reliable. I won’t go into my feelings toward certain news networks. I think both conservative and liberal media can be very frightening if you only listen to one side. But I think we also miss a valuable consideration. If we only watch the news, and we don’t read the news, or seek more information through our own research, we are left with one minute sound bites on issues that the media says we should think about. Do you really think that, in one minute at most, a broadcaster can enlighten you so much that you don’t have to read or dig deeper?
The truth is that if we stopped and thought about the role that WE play in the media, we’d realize that we are the enablers. They thrive off our ignorance, our need to receive some sort of edification in our beliefs, no matter how far-fetched, to keep us watching. Think about it. Do you really want to watch a program that says you are always right, even if it violates others’ rights or negates any other point of view without fair consideration? You might feel morally inclined to object and say that you’re not one of those people, but if you have a favorite news channel or newspaper, there is a pretty good chance that you are not totally objective either.
Whenever I hear people complain about the media and politics, I also learn later in the conversation how much a person is willing to eschew any kind of responsibility for not knowing what is going on around them. This is the information age. Now more than ever should we be able to understand the complexities of legislation, of this world even. In fact, we should be complex thinkers as a result because the more knowledge we gain, the less black and white our self-righteous opinions become.
In that sense, I suppose ignorance is bliss. But if that is the case, let’s call it what it is: ignorance.