By Chris DeLisle, Contributing Writer
In less than three weeks, millions of people throughout the country will be heading to the polls to cast a ballot that will determine our future path. This year, in particular, has a heightened degree of hostility as two daunting figures continue to confuse and polarize the nation. As the clock ticks down to decision time, many of us are still questioning who we will reluctantly vote for, or, if we will even vote at all. In order to cast a ballot that we believe in ,we must first become accurately informed; a feat that is continuing to become more and more difficult to achieve.
Many of us rely on the nightly news and other major media outlets such as CNN, FOX News or MSNBC to keep us informed. The problem with is that these media outlets aren’t interested in providing enough facts to the viewers; they are instead interested in advancing their own personal agenda. Nick Bray, President of the UMF College Democrats, sums it up best by saying, “all of these media outlets have one overarching goal, and it’s not to get the facts, it’s about money and viewership.”
The competition between each media outlet has led to a high degree of sensationalized and, often, untrue stories. Republican candidate for District 113 representative, Lance Harvell, states, “Media outlets have become more sensational than ever before,” Harvell continues, “Sex sells better than data, it’s part of our society.” This is a scary revelation. If we as a society are more interested in the drama over the facts, how can we elect leaders who truly believe in our values and the direction we see ourselves going?
Isaac Michaud, President of the UMF College Republicans, agrees with Harvell. “Sometimes the public doesn’t want to hear unbiased news, they want a reaction piece to talk with their friends about,” stated Michaud. By focusing on the drama surrounding political candidates we are fueling the negativity and sensational stories that focus on controversies and take our attention away from the issues at hand.
The negativity behind political ads isn’t limited to just the race for the White House. Bruce Poliquin and Emily Cain are the two candidates running to represent Maine’s 2nd district in Congress. No matter what channel you are watching on television, you are sure to be barraged with a slew of negative advertisements surrounding either candidate. The public is to blame for these negative ads states Harvell. “Negative campaigning works. If politicians ran negative ads and their polls dropped, they would stop running them,” Harvell continued, “negative campaigning serves two purposes; to drive down voter turnout, and make one candidate more unlikable than the other.”
If there is one thing that Bray, Harvell and Michaud all agree on, it is the power of collaboration. Here at UMF we have a wide array of diversity, a fact that Michaud says can’t be underestimated. “We have a diverse population on campus; we have democrats, we have republicans, we have people from all different backgrounds and that’s really great,” said Michaud adding, “we have different views and experiences, colleges are really great places to have thoughtful discussions and develop your own train of thought.”
Our great democratic society can only function as well as the leaders elected by it’s people can perform. By not educating ourselves on the issues at hand, we are allowing others to determine the path that we will embark on. Today, I leave you with a warning from an ancient Greek philosopher, who also lived in a once great democratic society: “To whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad with power.”