Vote DoodlesRight now, we’re in the middle of a political event that occurs once every four years. Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems that the media bias and campaign propaganda has climbed to new heights in this election, making it nearly impossible for us to carry out our civic duty of casting an informed and responsible vote. Unfortunately, we don’t have all day and night to research fact vs. fiction. There are other things that must occupy our time: we can’t shrug off our jobs and our families just to play the political version of Sgt. Joe Friday.

So how do we streamline our activity in politics so instead of continuously listening to skewed political commentary, we make our decision, stick with it, and get on with life? Fortunately, the web now offers solutions to help us with the process of making a political decision — one that’s far more efficient and effective than the traditional, unproductive, misinformed method that we’ve been following.

The new, more productive way to make political decisions

  • Often, our process of choosing whom we vote for is a little skewed. We usually pick our candidate first, and then look for evidence to support our decision. (This is called Confirmation Bias.) Instead, we should be taking a more top-down approach: choose the issues that are important to us, and pick a candidate based on the issues, not the media.
  • It’s impossible to know everything, and incomplete information can very often lead to bad decisions. If you wanted to filter through everything that is said by the candidates and pundits to look for lies and biases, you would not have any time left for the rest of your life.
  • Politics takes a lot of time — you only have so many hours in the day. Don’t force yourself to multitask when you can cut down on some of your distractions. Armed with your core beliefs, you can try to select a candidate who really represents you.

The process is simple:

  1. Choose your core beliefs. These are the things that really matter to you. Some examples are gay marriage, abortion, tax policy, etc. Choose the ones that most affect you, that matter to you the most.
  2. Find which candidate more accurately represents you.

With the Internet, this process is extremely simple. Several new websites exist that allow you to choose your core beliefs and find which candidate is a closer match.

For this process, I used Glassbooth. On Glassbooth, you’re asked to assign point values to a set of potential issues, rating them on a scale of how important the issues are to you. For some people, gun control may be a very important issue, while for some others it may not be a concern at all. After completing your point scale, you take a quiz that sees how you compare to the candidates. You can see exactly which candidates matched up with your views.

Glassbooth Screenshot

Glassbooth Screenshot

My scores rated me extremely similar to Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney (of the Green Party), and Barack Obama. Using the site, I can see exactly why each candidate matches my views or not. For example, I was 83% similar to Obama’s views on the media and the Internet, so the site offers several examples of his views on the issue, including links to interviews, transcripts, and other documents.

This site helped me discover new potential candidates that I may support and to see the exact position of each candidate on an issue-by-issue basis. I strongly recommend using Glassbooth as a tool to help you in choosing your political representatives. I’ve also heard good things about another site, Connect2Elect, which you may also want to try out.

With these sites, hopefully you’ll be able to filter through the political madness and, therefore, make better use of your time. However, if you really desire to dig up all the political facts yourself (and hopefully not just the ones you’re looking for), I suggest you use FactCheck.org to cut through the media and campaign BS rather than cross-referencing dozens of media information sources.

Image credit: saw / iStockphoto

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Suggested reading:
- “Glassbooth.org – Picks The Best Candidate For You” (KillerStartups)
- “Glassbooth.org” (PC Magazine)
- “Still Not Sure Who To Vote For? Take the Glassbooth Quiz.” (TechCrunch)
- “Connect2Elect.com – Chooses Candidates For You, Sort Of” (KillerStartups)
- “Connect2Elect: Helping You Decide The 2008 Presidential Election” (AppScout)
- “40+ Super Tuesday 2008 Resources” (Mashable)