Let me tell you about a hypothetical election between two candidates (A and B), who both happen to be very real. See if you can decide who would do the best job of the two of them.
Candidate A is from humble origins, born in a farmhouse, the son of a Baptist preacher. He supported himself through school by picking fruit. He served as a teacher after graduating from college. After winning a congressional seat in a special election, he worked on a committee to benefit the military, as well as policies to bring electric power to rural areas. While in Congress, he served in the military, winning a Silver Star, and was promoted, investigating corruption during the war effort.
After winning a senate seat, Candidate A was praised by many for his highly effective leadership style. And when duty called, he rallied Americans in a time of crisis. Under his leadership, major reforms were passed allowing U.S. citizens greater access to the ballot box. Major reforms were undertaken in health care, immigration, education and equality for all. He made a historic Supreme Court appointment. He vigorously opposed America's enemies abroad, often with force, though he also endeavored to bring peace to war-torn regions. He even deployed troops to a besieged country to bring democracy to the place, which has lasted ever since.
Candidate B got involved in politics as soon as he could, running for office in school and did his best from a young age to align himself, and learn from, the politically powerful. Ever ambitious, he won a race for the U.S. Senate marked by massive fraud, often aligning himself with opponents of a variety of reforms, using every trick in the book to bully opponents into supporting his legislation.
He used the power of his office to intimidate and spy on political opponents. He used deceit to launch a war that failed, and even dispatched troops to invade a small country. Under his leadership, there were riots and doubts about whether he should ever serve in leadership again.
I can bet that by right now, you're pretty disgusted with Candidate B, and would never vote for him under any circumstance. Candidate A is the superior choice, and would make a great president.
Candidate A is Lyndon Baines Johnson.
So is Candidate B.
What I've just done is frame the debate using every trick of bias, slanting, half-truths, and deceit that you see, sometimes from elements of the traditional media, but almost certainly from the Internet, unpublished and unaccountable sources that get circulated around social media.
Perhaps the best solution for you is to identify where you stand on the issues, and determine afterwards which candidate you are closest to. To do this, go to Societly, answer 20 questions or so on your views, and they'll match you with your best candidate. I took a similar quiz earlier in the year, with my students. Most of us picked our ideology correctly, but 22 of 25 of us (including me) picked the candidate that did not best match our position on the issues.
But above all, please vote this Election Day. Maybe this quiz will help cut through the clutter for you.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.