Make an informed vote


Published Apr 7, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Once upon a time, the two certainties in our lives were death and taxes, or so it was said.

Certainly, there is no way anyone could avoid either.

But now there appears to be a third inevitability: elections.

And, maybe even a fourth, related one: near constant posturing of warring national politicians.

Ask yourself, is there ever not a political season?

President Obama won re-election four months ago and started his second term two months ago.

Yet last week, the television news shows were reporting the first handicapping polls of Democratic contenders in the 2016 presidential election.

Granted, television has made an entertainment commodity of news, but doesn't this seem just a tad premature?

How could anyone take it seriously?

Three and a half years from now, what will be the state of our relations, if any, with North Korea, or Iran? Will the Arab Spring turn into the Arab Nightmare?

Will the economy be better or worse? Will health care reform live up to its hopes or its fears?

Whether we should be or not, we are fascinated by it, allowing it to occupy the civic dimension of our lives as citizens of this great republic and displace our more constructive considerations.

Less than a month from now, we will be receiving ballots in the mail for the May 21 Oregon primary.

It's an important election.

Each election, The Bulletin's editorial department interviews all candidates running in contested races. We do that to decide our endorsement.

In this primary, there are more than 50 candidates in such races in Central Oregon, as well as proposals for bonds for school construction and operational levies for the Deschutes 911 services and the Madras pool.

We will do our job, analyzing issues and contrasting candidates' views. In other words, we'll work hard to give you enough information to make informed voting choices.

It is the coverage of democracy at its most elemental level.

That coverage won't make Fox News or CNN, or even the local television station, but it should inform the vote you will cast that will have the most immediate impact on your lives.

It is your neighbors running for office to determine the future of your community. The question is, will you listen to them?

Will you take them seriously, spend the time and effort to read their views and understand their positions?

I hope so, but I fear the inescapable and hyper-inflated arguments that dominate our political world encourage a cynicism that will infect all levels of decision making, right down to the local school board, park board or school construction bond.

Recent candidates for public office have told me that a shared concern they brought from their campaigns is the difficulty in getting a coherent policy message out and understood by voters.

Watching politics for a long time, I have previously dismissed this as something akin to an occupational gripe.

Now, I'm not so sure.

There are just too many people — candidates, voters, office holders even editors — who are saying the same thing: our ability to be focused and serious on key issues is getting harder in a world of instantly distributed opinion from thousands, if not millions, of sources.

There is no perfect answer to this.

However, you have an opportunity to avoid the political rancor many profess to despise, and engage in issues that are near and dear to the community you love.

Making a fully informed vote in this upcoming Oregon primary — or any local election, for that matter — is the best way to rise above the cynicism and despair of our national political culture.

— John Costa is editor-in-chief

of The Bulletin. Contact: 541-383-0337,

jcosta@bendbulletin.com