I know, I don’t talk about politics much…
I’ll wait while you clean your coffee off your monitor.
I just discovered this tool and I hope that you will share it and put it to use.
I link directly to the elections page, because I found it the most useful. Using this page, you can search for any elected official and find out how much money they spent on each election and where it came from.
You can also see a list of sponsored and co-sponsored bills (for congress) that that politician worked on. A quick search at govtrack.us, will let you read the text and see what happened with it (did it die in committee, was it voted on, etc.).
You can see what your incumbent has actually done and where his money came from. For example I looked up Texas golden boy Ted Cruz and found that he got more money from out of state donors than his opponent got in total. Plus he raised another $10 or so million. The vast majority of it came from financial services, oil and gas, lawyers and conservative organizations (those four combined to the tune of four million dollars).
First, please vote. In every election there is. Less than 2/3s of the eligible voters in the US vote. That once or twice a year event is the only way that individuals can have a say in the system. If our representatives listened to individuals and big donors proportionally, Ted Crux would only listen 19% to people like us. If anyone thinks he listens that much to individuals, then I’ve got a bridge I’ll sell you very cheap.
Second, use these tools (and others) to take a look at the choices you have to make. It’s exceedingly difficult (time consuming) to ferret out what politicians really think and who they really listen to. But you can, with some effort. Personally, I think you owe that minimal amount of effort to your country (whatever country, if you know of similar tools for other countries, please post them in the comments).
I’ll be honest, I don’t care who gets elected dogcatcher. I do care who gets elected president. Usually, the decision is pretty easy. And, when in doubt, I tend to go with a particular party.
I would also encourage everyone to consider parties other than the Big Two in the US. There are several that are on the ballots for many states including the Libertarians and the Greens. For me personally, I like to vote for the Greens every chance I get. Soon, one of them will get elected to a position and then there will be a conversation about what they can do.
I don’t care what you think about the candidates, but it’s up to a skeptic to look at the history and the fund raising efforts and make a reasoned (if imperfect) decision… rather than listening to attack ads.
Again, please share these tools.