It’s a trick question. There’s never been a better reason. And speaking of reason, the role of reason itself is more important than ever in this election.
Unlike some elections when the candidates are not that far apart or when we are not so divided as a nation, in this election, the choice is definitely not between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. This year, Kansas voters have very distinct choices up and down the ballot.
Both major parties have moved farther from the center than in any past election in memory. Both have elements that appear to be extreme, at least to the other side. In not a few instances, otherwise peaceful protests have been marred by violence toward persons and (or) property.
When Republican leaders call Democrats "socialists" and "Communists" and Democrats view Republicans who back Trump as "fascists," civility and reason become impossible.
Many on the right who self-identify as anti-government denounce liberals as nothing but a bunch of anarchists. That’s Orwellian double-think ("ignorance is strength"). For them, all that matters is power ("winning").
I disagree. Power matters, but in a democracy, the choices voters make about who exercises power is what matters most.
Like who to support in this election, what to consider, when to change your mind, and how to think about politics. These are questions that as voters we either ask and answer for ourselves or we let others answer for us — maybe a partner, maybe a priest, vicar or rabbi, maybe a peer group, union or — in the uber-blue or uber-red states — a political party.
When that happens we are, in effect, giving up a right so many Americans have fought and died to preserve, namely the right to think for ourselves, to make choices, to express our opinions freely, and to vote our conscience based on facts and science.
It’s never been more important to pay attention and to vote intelligently. It’s also never been more difficult to avoid being targeted by internet trolls and bombarded by purveyors of conspiracy theories and fake facts.
The good news is there’s no excuse for voters to buy what liars are selling. Nonpartisan websites devoted to fact-checking and rating media bias are a good place to start. Five of the top-rated ones are Media Bias/Fact Check, Snopes, PolitiFact, FactCheck.org and TruthOrFiction.com.
The Washington Post Fact Checker adds a bit of comic relief — for example, a half-truth gets two "Pinocchios." A real "whopper" gets four.
Then, too, consult your own conscience. Do you value honesty in your private life? Do you care if a family member or co-worker is lazy or lies a lot? Me, too.
In our personal lives, we often pay a heavy price for judging a book by its cover, as the saying goes. In politics, the price can be the difference between war and peace or life and death.
When the chips are down, competence and moral character make all the difference.
If a physician, who is running for the U.S. Senate in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century doesn’t set a good example — like always wearing a mask. Or if he makes a show of taking an anti-malarial drug called hydroxychloroquine which a high-profile public figure with a bully pulpit has long touted as a coronavirus cure but which has no proven efficacy and experts warn against.
First check out the facts, then ask yourself if such a candidate is a) competent and b) honest.
In this election, vote like your life depends on it. Because it does.
Thomas Magstadt, of Westwood Hills, is a writer and educator.