Sunday, August 01, 2004

One of the Best Things to Ever Happen to Democracy

Hey, sportsfans. I've been bewailing for a couple of years the extreme difficulty of getting solid knowledge of candidates' actual views or beliefs, outside of extremely boilerplate-like rhetoric.

As if in answer to my gripes, I found Project Vote Smart, which has various extremely useful rubrics for voting in national and state level elections. My personal favorites are the NPATs, which are surveys given to the candidates, and gauge their responses to various questions (i.e. "do you support any of the following statements": abortion should always be legal, never be legal, should be illegal after the first trimester, should be legal in cases of rape, etc).

I have no idea if I'm simply the last one on to this (I doubt it), but I feel much cooler (read: informed) now that I've found it. So much less shooting in the dark! Hooray!

Oh, other awesome things on Project Voting Smart: Interest Groups' ratings of candidates; so you can find out if your (incumbent) senator/rep/etc. has voted for or against bills aligning closely with the positions of various groups. Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Michigan Farm Bureua, US Chamber of Commerce, the John Birch Society, League of Conservation Voters, etc! So good. There is quite a lot of information, but most of it digestable quickly. For example, you can rapidly scroll through the issues and interest groups, and relatively quickly gain a rough idea of how much you agree with the candidate based on how much they agree or disagree with various interest groups that you may agree or disagree with. This becomes more difficult, of course, if you're not already in the know about what interests these groups represent (for example, the Family Research Council may or may not mean what you think it means, INCONCEIVABLE! as that may be. (It is a conservative "family values" type group, of a type I don't support as a quasi-secular humanist, though, you know, one wouldn't necessarily immediately know if one were for or against "Family Research" only from the name.) (I don't believe in all tenets of secular humanism outlined in the link, but the general gist of it follows my general beliefs.)

Also, lastly and most directly in response to my prayers, a plain-english outline of VOTING RECORDS!. I wonder how Kerry stacks up according to things I believe in? Expose to come! (Or, possibly, reluctant re-acceptance of Kerry. But I doubt it.)


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