Letters to the Editor

Power of the vote requires apolitical facts

In a recent letter, a writer encouraged voters to be rational, not emotional, in making choices in November.

To that end, I recommend this invaluable website: www.votesmart.org. It is offered by a unique research center dedicated to protecting the "most crucial component" of self-governance: "access to abundant, accurate, and relevant information ... (regarding) political candidates and elected officials' backgrounds, voting records, campaign contributions, public statements, biographical data and evaluations ... by over 100 competing special interest groups." Another component is politicians' performance on the Political Courage Test.

It is overseen by a board that reflects balance. No one can join the board without a political opposite also serving. Former board members include Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, Senators George McGovern and Barry Goldwater, former governor Michael Dukakis, former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, and current Sen. John McCain.

A caveat for using the website: Voting records are reactive indicators. Look also for what is not there: Indicators of proactive leadership via crafting and proposing legislation to solve problems.

While the website offers information concerning legislation and candidates and elected officials, perhaps its greatest value lies in its role as a litmus test for the veracity of the "pipers" we follow and the "truth" we ourselves embrace.

Alice Walker said, "The only thing keeping people from exercising their power is not knowing they have it." As with any power, we must use it responsibly, respectfully, and honorably. It was and continues to be hard won.

Lee Shaffer