Our media is often the most destructive influence in modern politics. For all the good it may do in keeping us informed about the world around us, it does much more harm to our democracy when we let the media determine how we think and how we vote.

We all like to be informed as to what’s happening in our world. In fact, staying informed it is part of being a good citizen. The problem with so much news coverage today is that it is chock-full of negativity, especially when it comes to politics. And it is not just TV. Think about it- while we are blessed with all sorts of fascinating, instant-gratification conduits for informing ourselves (TV, print, radio, internet), the overwhelming majority of that information comes from biased sources that strive to tell us how and what to think. In an election cycle, too many people outsource their own thinking and let the media influence how to think, and effectively, how to vote.

Take cable “news” for instance. In the race to always be “first” in reporting the news so they can achieve high ratings, the major broadcast outlets reach for, desperately willing scandal to occur so they can blast their newscasts with “breaking news” about how destructive one political party is, how the sky will fall if the other party gets it’s way. It is almost always divisive rather than uniting.

And when the “news” outlets, pundits, or bloggers run out of news to report, they spend their time railing against, criticizing, and mocking the anchors, pundits, or bloggers of other news outlets for how they report or editorialize the news! Newspeople becoming the news! What a media cesspool!

Think about any political election cycle, which in modern times starts about five minutes after the most recent election and lasts for 2 to 4 years until the next election. Politics have long since strayed from ideas, policy and leadership and have deteriorated to an argument about who “society” can promote and then viciously tear down as soon as possible. Football and baseball are no longer our national pastimes- character assassination of individuals is- especially in the political arena.

It makes no difference where along the political spectrum we fall either. If we are on the left or the right, or in the quiet middle, cable, broadcast, print, and internet news outlets will provide us with plenty of fodder to choose anger, hate, resentment, frustration, personal alienation, disenfranchisement and helplessness as we participate in political and undemocratic genocide. And our media outlets- all led by people- fan the flames enthusiastically for ratings. The “media” has become the fourth branch of government- not one that we elect, but rather one we voluntarily follow and grant seemingly endless power.

Too often, we take the word (which is just the opinion) of these loud people or groups that have a specific political agenda, and their viewpoint is usually based on their own particular political or economic interests. Thus, often our viewpoints are based on the emotional reactions we have to someone else’s arguments. “You get what you deserve” is a phrase that applies here- meaning that we too often accept by default the outcome of an election based on the judgement of someone else who has taken the time to “think for us.”

This is why there is no real middle ground when it comes to voting. People may talk a good game during the campaigns, philosophically espousing their politically enlightened, independent-mindedness, but when it comes to casting their vote, many voters act like they are choosing their favorite sport’s team. It doesn’t matter who the players are, only the color of the jersey or letter on the hat. Conviction goes only far enough to pretend that you’ve won an argument over someone who likes the other team.

This absolves us of having to take any responsibility for outcomes we do not like. This insulation from accountability however does not positively advance us as citizens or our political system in a advantageous way, and it fundamentally nurtures a perpetual cycle of disfunction. The result? More and more of the same ineffective and unresponsive “leadership,” with neither side ever being happy with the results. It’s a permanent and angry defense rather than a proactive democratic offense.

And all this occurs because of the winner-take-all mentality we’ve come to see as the only way- because “that’s just how we’ve always done it.” This methodology, when used to determine the allocation of financial, economic, social resources and assumption of civil rights truly is completely archaic, and ineffective. It merits a better, improved, and more democratic way.

This ruthless cycle can eventually be overcome by a simple, deliberate shift in comprehension of our own individual civic power.

We can choose to think for ourselves. We can choose who we decide to vote for, and we should choose to ensure that our vote counts. Make Our Vote Count will empower us, the voters. We can choose to Make Our Vote Count.

It all starts with us.

The world is run by those who show up. We Californians must decide if we will “show up” this November, and give ourselves the constitutional and democratic right to make ALL of our votes count. We can take in all the media has to offer, but we can still choose to think for ourselves, trusting that we as individuals know WHAT IS BEST FOR US, and for our families. We can set the rules of the game, instead of letting the political parties and special interests gerrymander districts, picking the winners and losers by making politically convenient back room deals with one another. We can create the opportunity for a third party to enter into the political discussion, by providing an opportunity for a third party to receive Electoral College votes. We can “take the money” out of politics, neuter the influence of SuperPACs and special interests, and give the power back to OURSELVES.

We can Make Our Vote Count!