Dear Straight Talk: In 1787, our founding fathers gathered behind closed doors to decide what form of government the fledgling United States would have. The newly-freed colonists held their breath. When the delegates finally emerged, someone asked Benjamin Franklin, "Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin smiled and replied, “A Republic — if you can keep it.”
Today the buzz is about getting people to vote. You commonly hear, "It's every citizen's duty." However, the problem isn't people not voting, it's people going to the polls peer-pressured, scared, brainwashed, or lied to. Take negative campaign ads. Informed people burst out laughing, saying, "How could any well-informed voter believe that!" Actually, these ads are designed for the uninformed. Telling them to, "Vote, vote, vote!" is like instructing ballplayers to run around the bases, while neglecting to mention that they must hit the ball first.
Adding to the trouble, many uninformed people think they are informed. Cable news churns out nonstop spin and superficial outrage. Most radio and Internet sources aren't much better. Unbiased news is hard to find nowadays. Many people come to me with political questions. Below are my top sources of unbiased information. Get informed, then go vote. —Colin Meinrath, Los Angeles
• Common Sense with Dan Carlin: non-partisan commentary on U.S. and global politics.
• FaceTheFactsUSA.org: Many "fact-checking" websites are misleading. Not this one.
• KCRW's Left, Right & Center: honest inquiry by people who prefer talking over screaming.
• New York Times: still a great place to get daily headlines and the story behind them.
Editor's Note: Most political issues are complex and contradictory — just like humans. The thing to realize in any disagreement is that all sides are partly right. Elected Republicans and Democrats used to be friends. They worked together and respected each other's arguments. They also knew that sacrifice is the foundation of creating and serving a great ideal. In the words of Hazrat Inayat Khan, "The greater the ideal, the greater the sacrifice it demands... sacrifice of a possession is the first step; the next one is self-sacrifice, which was the inner note of the religion of Jesus Christ. Charity, generosity, even tolerance and forbearance, are a kind of sacrifice, and every sacrifice in life, in whatever form, means a step towards the goal of every soul."
The Republic of America, "with liberty and justice for all," is one of the world's greatest ideals. We each must become informed and willing to sacrifice — so we "can keep it," as Ben Franklin warned would be difficult. The news sources Colin lists are accountable, thorough, unbiased and non-partisan. If the New York Times already carries a 'liberal' label in your mind, consider that you have been lied to. It carries the best of both liberal AND conservative viewpoints — the very definition of unbiased and thorough. Let's get informed — and work with each other, not against each other. —Lauren
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