Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category


March Common Ground E-Newsletter

26 March 2015

Do the Facts Work For You?
An increasing body of evidence shows that we all tend to push away facts that do not support
our views, while pulling friendly information close, whether it be factual or not. Arthur Lupia of 
the University of Michigan suggests we apply the flight-or-fight reflex not only to predators
but to data itself.
Some studies have suggested that facts, presented as aggression against one’s beliefs, actually make people hold on to their beliefs-- even false beliefs -- more doggedly.
This can be a serious problem for most of us arguing for our views in civic society.
If you want someone to accept the facts, don’t confront them as if you have a loaded gun in your hand. It will only trigger an emotionally-heated defense, suggests Dan Kahan of Yale University. Doing such a thing would directly contradict the advice of every successful political strategist alive today.
Lie to Your Pollster!
Over the months ahead millions will be spent by politicians and their pollsters to tag you and every other voter you know. They will know all they can, not only your views but right down to who you will likely vote for and whether you will need a little prodding to show up on Election Day.
These will not be polls designed to improve your life or advance your points of view. They are designed to figure out how to manipulate you, how best to get you to support one candidate over another. Or more often now, to get you to hate one candidate more than another.
Our advice: Lie to Your Pollster. Wouldn’t it be exciting and far more helpful to watch candidates being themselves? To listen to candidates unable to forecast our reaction to their remarks, observations and attacks? Maybe then we would hear what they really think instead of what they think we want to hear. Just like in the Wizard of OZ, maybe then we would see the real person behind the screen instead of the false caricatures they often create.
The Presidential Courage Test:
The Questions We Ask
Answers coming November 15
(Questions are draft only and subject to change)

A sample of the questions:
Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
In order to balance the budget, do you support reducing defense spending?
In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase?
Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes?
Do you support alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug offenders?
Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
Do you support lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth?
Do you support providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation?
If We Build It, Will They Come?
Jessica Arrigoni, once our Director of the National Political Courage and now our National Board Chair, made this convincing argument to foundations, which is paraphrased here, because it applies to all citizens -- all of us.
It is called Political Science, but consider for a moment that it is not a science but an art. Like all art it strives to create an audience, followers and patrons, only in this art the successful artist has an immediate, often dramatic impact on all those in the room, whether they appreciate the artist or not.
At Vote Smart, we strive to give a base with which to understand the art, safely evaluate it and appreciate what effect the art will have if one artist succeeds and another fails.
Doing such a thing is an art in and of itself, an art that enables people to successfully govern or not. The success of democracy requires not calculations but the same soul that enables any artist to envision and succeed.
 Vote Smart is creating a canvas that:
1.  8.4 million citizens visit and use.
2.  Is supported by $1.6 million in small contributions from patrons
3. Over 10,000 students from all 50 states and 24 foreign countries have volunteered to work full-time helping to create - far more than can be accommodated.
4. Studies show have impacted all social classes, including those designated as disenfranchised, minorities, low-income and new citizens.
Such an idea, showing such resonance with citizens – is it not worth support from every one of us?
"The state of Georgia is the latest state to tell its citizens, "If you want to find out about their state legislators use Vote Smart."   

Related tags: blog, e-newsletter, Georgia

All fields are required.

Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Thank You!

You are about to be redirected to a secure checkout page.

Please note:

The total order amount will read $0.01. This is a card processor fee. Please know that a recurring donation of the amount and frequency that you selected will be processed and initiated tomorrow. You may see a one-time charge of $0.01 on your statement.

Continue to secure page »

Back to top