Campaigning season is upon us- and with that comes political ads in all shapes and sizes. We’re inundated with television commercials telling us which candidate supports which issues and now with social media there are more places to be targeted for political ads. The Washington Post reports that approximately $6.5 billion was spent on the 2016 campaign season - that is a lot of money being directed at convincing you to support a particular candidate, and the 2018 midterm elections are no different. (The midterms are called so because they’re halfway between a president’s four year term. Every member of the House of Representatives and ⅓ of the Senate is up for re-election.)
With all that money - and all of those ads, it’s important to learn how to educate yourself on a candidate or issue. Additionally, as people of faith we have an additional responsibility to faithfully and prayerfully discern what issues and candidates we ultimately support. Scripture tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, “but test them all; hold on to what is good.” In other words, don’t take what you’re hearing at face value and learn to be a discerning citizen and voter. Here are a few simple tips to learn more about candidates and their issues.
- Hold a candidate forum at your church.
- Visit nonpartisan websites that provide issue background and candidate positions such as the League of Women Voters website.
- Sharing the task of finding and gathering issue information makes it easier and more fun! Gather a group of people willing to be researchers, then have each person take an issue and follow that issue discussion in newspapers, magazines, and on radio and television. Share your findings with each other.
- Invite Sunday School children and youth to share their hopes and concerns on the issues.
- Organize a group from your congregation to attend candidate events and town hall meetings and share your reflections with each other after the event. (You can bring a question or two with you in written form that you have prepared ahead of time.)
- Post issue education material on church bulletin boards and include information in your church’s newsletter.
- Talk about the issues with family members and friends. Speak honestly about your thoughts and feelings. Share personal experiences which help others to more fully understand your concerns and perspectives on the issues. Conversation can be passionate and still be respectful, civil and constructive.
To learn more about educating yourself on the issues, visit the UCC’s Our Faith, Our Vote website for myriad ways to get active in election season.