I cast my early ballot today. I was proud to do so.

I quite deliberately have not written much - either here or in my weekly newspaper column - about the campaigns for president and other political offices to be decided next week, primarily because it seems like that was all everybody else was talking about for so much of this past year and, well, SOMEBODY had to talk about other things.

But with only a few days remaining before the election, I’d like to change that policy just long enough to share the following observation before shutting up again and waiting along with the rest of you for history to take its course.

It is, in fact, the very same observation that I shared in my newspaper column just before the 2008 election. I thought it was a valid observation then, and I feel even more strongly about it now four years later. 

As my father has said more than once over the years, good points are worth repeating. So here we go...

I have written in the past about letters and e-mails and phone calls that we and other newspapers and households all across the country receive every campaign season, making all sorts of baseless allegations against one candidate or the other based on nothing more than rumor, innuendo and, as often as not, what my mother used to call “plain old ordinary flat-out lies.”

I’ve had people tell me that they refuse to vote for this candidate for this reason, or cannot support the other candidate for that reason – all because they heard or read something inflammatory about the candidates that have little if any basis in fact.

Every new election is regarded by individuals on all sides of the partisan divide as “The Most Important Election in American History.” I suppose the label carries some validity with each new election, for reasons specific to that particular time and place; at some point the hyperbole starts to lose a little of its zing but, times being what they are, it’s easy to understand why so many would harbor such feelings.

Given that, one might expect that the voters would want to take the time to do some honest-to-goodness research on their own regarding the various candidates and issues – using sources a bit more reliable than gossip, Internet blogs, Faux News and even occasionally opinionated so-and-sos like Yours Truly for their information.

In my own defense, I have never claimed that any opinions expressed herein – whether the topic be something as important as the burnng political or social issues of the day, or as trivial as my favorite books and movies or the debate over whether flame-broiling beats frying (there’s my decades-old pop culture reference for the week) – are anything other than just that: my OPINION.


I do try to base those opinions on honest research and the available evidence. But not once have I ever used the “I’m right because I say so” argument that seems so popular among some who have taken exception to my comments over the years. 

Nor would I.

To their credit, a great many voters this year appear to have been doing the kind of independent research that I’m talking about. That’s a good thing. 

The bad news is that there seems to be a growing number of people in this country who are content to rely on the bloggers and the rumormongers and the TV talking heads to make their decisions for them, no questions asked. 

I find that more troubling than I can express.

I have said it before, in this column and in e-mails and letters and private conversations with family, friends and total strangers,  and I will say it again now: If you do not feel comfortable voting for a particular candidate from ANY party – whether he or she be running for president, senator, representative, city council member or dog catcher – then don’t.

But if you choose not to support a candidate – ANY candidate, in any election – let it be because you took the time to do a little fact-checking on your own and have endeavored to make an INFORMED decision regarding that candidate and his or her ideas, goals and policies.

DON’T let it be because of comments made from the pulpit or at the coffee shop, or because of false rumors or innuendo spread by people who don’t know any better (or who do and simply do not care), or because of something you heard from Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow or even John Small.

Don’t let anybody else make the decision for you. Do the research yourself. make up your own mind. You’ll ultimately be better informed that way. 

And if your candidate loses and things end up going to heck in a handbasket as a result, you’ll be in a much better position to stand up later and say “See, I told you so...” (Just trying to inject a little levity, folks.)

All right, ’nuff said. Now go vote.

This is America, after all...