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Straight Talk for Teens Young voters need to get informed before voting

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Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 8:00 am

Dear Straight Talk: In 1787, our founding fathers gathered behind closed doors to decide what form of government the fledgling United States would have. The newly-freed colonists held their breath. When the delegates finally emerged, someone asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin smiled and replied, “A Republic — if you can keep it.”

Today the buzz is about getting people to vote. You commonly hear, “It’s every citizen’s duty.” However, the problem isn’t people not voting, it’s people going to the polls peer-pressured, scared, brainwashed, or lied to. Take negative campaign ads. Informed people burst out laughing, saying, “How could any well-informed voter believe that?” Actually, these ads are designed for the uniformed. Telling them to “vote, vote, vote!” is like instructing ballplayers to run around the bases, while neglecting to mention that they must hit the ball first.

Adding to the trouble, many uninformed people think they are informed. Cable news churns out nonstop spin and superficial outrage. Most radio and Internet sources aren’t much better. Unbiased news is hard to find nowadays. Many people come to me with political questions. Below are my top sources of unbiased information. Get informed, then go vote. — Colin Meinrath, Los Angeles

  • Common Sense with Dan Carlin: non-partisan commentary on U.S. and global politics.
  • Many “fact-checking” websites are misleading. Not this one.
  • KCRW’s Left, Right & Center: honest inquiry by people who prefer talking over screaming.
  • New York Times: still a great place to get daily headlines and the story behind them.

Katelyn, 17, Azusa: I like that Colin gives solutions. Many complain, yet neglect to offer alternatives. Some even say the “other side” should fix the problem. We are also crippled by political correctness. Oppose a minority opinion and your head is on a stick.

Brandon, 20, Mapleton, Maine: Most voters won’t haul their butts out again for four more years. Skipping out on congressional elections gives you no influence on those who pull the president’s strings. Think hard about your senators and legislators and vote for them, too.

Follow their voting record at

Alex, 16, Newton, Mass.: The media, besides feeding us biased information, rarely holds candidates accountable. Politicians lie over and over and get away with it. What happened to the George Washingtons of this country who weren’t concentrating on winning, but on serving? Let’s support candidates who will change the culture in Washington — and let’s all work together to change things at home.

Colin, 19, Los Angeles: Adding to my letter: Our two dominant parties are strangling this country. They care more about winning elections than America’s welfare. Another famous founding father, John Adams, warned of this. He said, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

Only candidates committed to working across party lines get my vote. It’s depressing how many boast about their unwillingness to do this!

Dear Readers: Many thanks to Colin for starting this conversation. Being informed and willingly non-partisan is the difference between “We the People,” thinking and creating a strong Union, and “We the Sheeple,” trampling it as two opposing, brainwashed, stubborn herds. Make a practice of studying the non-partisan news sources Colin suggests — most other sources, liberal and conservative alike, really are junk food. Then, on November 6, vote with your own informed mind. Deadlines for voter registration are practically right now! Don’t waste another second. Registration forms are at post offices, libraries and online. In some states (California included), you may now register entirely online. —Lauren

Straight Talk TnT is a 501c3 nonprofit (“social-profit”) organization. To ask a question or join our work, visit or write PO Box 1974, Sebastopol, CA 95473.



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