Electronic media has made politicians more accessible and personable to the general public than ever before, for better or worse. Televised debates that began in the 1950s have grown into the 24/7 media landscape that surrounds us constantly with news and updates. Whether we choose to or not, we’re more exposed to our nation’s politics and the geopolitical implications of national policies worldwide.
This increase in available information hasn’t automatically meant a more informed voter base. The personalization of politics has instead been criticized as a threat to democracies when the celebrity of a leader overshadows the values and progress of the political party as a whole.
As with most things in life, it’s essential to strike a balance, and getting to know our representatives on a more personal level isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Being more familiar with their individual traits can give us a better understanding of their morals and how they align with our own when making voting decisions. When choosing our representatives, it’s important we feel confident they will act accordingly to their pre-elections political promises, and personality traits can be the vital cues we need to fulfill citizen’s responsibility and vote thoughtfully.
With so much information available about potential candidates, let’s dive into what we should be looking for in the politicians who represent us.
It’s essential to feel like our views are being represented in Congress, and we rely upon our representatives to speak for us in Washington D.C. If you’re unsure who to vote for in upcoming elections, getting to know the candidates on a personal level, as much as possible, can help establish whether they share the same values as you. That way, even though we aren’t directly involved in the moments of decision-making, we can feel more confident in the choices our representative makes on our behalf if we believe they have a strong sense of moral principles.
Values are deeply held beliefs that govern our choices and behaviors, influence our emotions, and affect our ability to relate to the people around us. These beliefs are built over time from an accumulation of life experiences and tend to be a stable reflection of what is important to us. Whether you’re choosing from new candidates or deciding to prolong trust in the one already holding office, looking for signs their values align with our own is an excellent place to start.
A Fuller Picture
Where personality and celebrity politics can prove distractionary, looking for a shared belief system or moral code in our politicians can help us look beyond the sparkle of media hype. Thanks to the internet, politicians can build large digital footprints over the course of their campaigning, leaving a wealth of features and interviews for us to get to know them better. Learning about your local representative through as many media channels as possible helps gain a fuller picture of their political positioning.
One among many sources to look for is social media. It’s an excellent insight into the topics or issues closest to politicians’ hearts and prioritized on their agendas. The internet is now the main communication channel used by politicians and the government to create direct communication with its citizens, and this is done in both formal and informal ways. Following official and personal accounts on social media can offer a broader picture of a politician that was unavailable to us before.
Fake News Resilience
The accelerated speed of our news cycle, along with the prevalence of mass media, means it is harder than ever for politicians to get away with media slip-ups. The internet now offers endless possibilities for information sharing, yet it is still monumentally challenging to find voting records from elected officials on issues that matter to you.
Clear and unbiased sources that provide simple access to voting history and other original documentation are critical to fact-check politicians. In the era of fake news, sensationalist headlines can distort what has been said on a topic. Politicians can also manipulate the media with narratives that distract from actions being made behind the scenes. For democracies to function effectively, individuals need to stay well-informed and build deep political comprehension of how our choices shape our future.
Politics is an integrative part of our communities, and people shouldn’t underestimate the vital impact it has at a local level. Unfortunately, the endless mudslinging on national and international political stages can be a distraction that prevents people from engaging with local representatives making decisions that will directly affect their daily lives. We must look past the circus of the 24-hour media cycle to the politicians in their communities speaking specifically for and about them.
If you’re the one looking for a politician that is similar to you but more of a leader, don’t waste your resources; join WeWillDecide and take part in building the future of your own for the sake of our society.