How campaigns make us think voting doesn’t matter

It’s 6:30 in the morning here, I’m tired, and rushing to get ready for work. In spite of all of that, however, I need to share the book I’ve just finished reading:”How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative” The author, Allen Raymond, was a GOP campaign manager and operative between 1992 and 2002 and had heavy sway and influence in the messages, tactics, results in elections during that time.

Raymond exposes all of the tactics used by campaigns to twist the truth, distort the message, encourage, and discourage voters from voting. He documents from where these ideas come and shows examples of why and how the work.

The gist of the book, I believe, is summed up in the following paragraphs from the epilogue:

That is everything I can tell you from the inside — how the system is used by people just like me, in both parties, and that they are paid to win at all costs. The tactics will only get tougher, nastier, more brutal, because the tricks of the trade are known, embellished upon, and passed forward by people like me to more people like me, with the competition growing stiffer and the stakes rising higher with every election. So there it is. Now, what are you going to do about it?

Voters must question every shred of information they receive about each candidate using as many critical thinking methods as possible. The five “W’s” from reporting — who, what, where, when, why — are valuable here. When voters see or hear and ad, when they receive a phone call or a postcard or letter, they should be asking themselves who it’s from, what reason was there to send, where it came from, when it was sent, and why was it sent to them.

More so than the actual message, campaigns use targeted mailings with half-truths at key times to sway voters. Oftentimes the purpose of the message is to discourage people from voting at all. To me, this is the most insipid practice of all and is why I will continue to point out that not voting actually feeds the end-game of the system as opposed to — as some non-voters maintain — “sticking it to the man”.

I beg of you, read the book. At the very least, start questioning the information you receive from every campaign. As citizens with the responsibility of getting our country back to working the way it should, we must be informed. Not only through the usual channels of mass-media news and information spew, but also through our own reasoning and interpretation skills.

It’s not easy, but every campaign out there is counting on us not doing it. Is counting on us giving up and taking whatever it is they say as the ultimate truth.

There will be more from me on this subject, but in the meantime: don’t let them win. Use your mind, expose their lies, and vote your conscience.