Media and voting

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Marshall McLuhan was a man ahead of his time who had a great deal of insight on the issue of how media is the message rather than a benign conduit. As such, its power to transform cultures should be consciously assessed rather than accepted on a passive level. In other words, be very careful of what you see, hear, and believe through any news site.

With today’s technology, news is constantly being generated and disseminated without any real oversight by neutral parties. Honestly, I am not convinced there are any neutral parties left to oversee much of anything these days. As a people, we have every reason to be cynical as government institutions are riddled with cronyism and over-reaching bureaucrats out to enlarge their power bases. The unholy alliance of government, mega corporations, non-governmental organizations, media, and technology is a real and present danger to our democracy and constitutional freedoms. Both major political parties are quick to point at the other, claiming they did it. Truth is, they both did it. The primary reason that the wealthiest zip codes in the country lie just outside Washington, D.C., has everything to do with access to power, and elected politicians looking to get re-elected.

Dissatisfaction with both major political parties is giving rise to a larger segment of the population turning to alternative party candidates. As an individual who has voted for a candidate who I believed would bring much needed reform, only to watch them go off to Washington and turn into swamp creatures, I understand the urge to bolt. I found a presidential candidate in the 2016 election that in good conscience I could vote for. Of course that person never stood a chance; but I felt better than if I had followed the herd.

On a local level I think the recent county commissioner race was a reflection of that sentiment. Two of the four candidates vying for an open seat were unaffiliated. I attended every single one of the public forums and voter participation was impressive. I think it would be fair to say that three of the four could be characterized as center-right candidates. The fact that one of those three was elected speaks volumes, that while Montezuma County is fairly conservative, there are voters who are willing to send a message.

Some, I think, responded to Steve Chappell’s message of great concern over cultural changes that erode the nuclear family and the appalling rise of drug use and its associated problems in our community. Similarly, Jesse Sattley’s message of “stop taxing and spending us into oblivion” resonated with those who work hard for their money and want to keep some of it. As a somewhat libertarian-leaning voter, I think both men had important messages to deliver. I am, however, somewhat circumspect in regards to that such divisiveness could lead to a train wreck of epic proportions. The total vote garnered by the three similar candidates was 7,297 to the Democrat candidate of 4,361. Looking at it proportionately, it was 62.59 percent to 37.41 percent. If the Democrat had succeeded due to the splitting of votes by essentially a homogeneous group, it would have led to a majority being represented by a person who would be in conflict with those values.

Elections come every two years and they all matter. Whether it is a local, state, or national election I urge you to get involved. Do your homework before the caucuses and the primaries roll around, so that you will be an informed voter. There are too many agendas and mischief-makers out there that count on apathy and indifference. If we really care about our democracy and our rights we need to avoid the obvious traps that special interest groups, who can package and sell almost any candidate, groom us into accepting. Instead let’s find quality over the photo ops, deceitful ads, and obscene money sent in by professional lobbyists.

The ability of media forces that can shape any election outcome cannot be over-emphasized. Last week, I heard an interview on the radio. The host was in a conversation with a guy named Ben Ferguson of some social media platform called the Ferguson File. It was an interesting conversation and since I had never heard of the guy, I Googled him. Google kept changing the word file to the word fire. It took typing in the guy’s name to bring it up on a search. While such manipulation is annoying, it also can be dangerous.

Marshall McLuhan was right about the medium being the massage.

Valerie Maez writes from Lewis, Colo.

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From Valerie Maez.