Viewpoint 1/24: Do real research before voting

Every four years, Americans are faced with the impending media circus of the presidential race. Candidates point fingers, flip-flop and all kinds of dirt on these candidates is exposed. The personal details of their lives are strewn across television, radio and the Internet, and then Americans have to decide who to pick.

The circus is back in town, and entertainers, musicians and actors are joining in. Recently, celebrities like Chuck Norris have come out with who they will be supporting in the 2012 presidential elections. Norris, most famous for his former role on the television program Walker, Texas Ranger and roundhouse kicks, has decided to back Newt Gingrich, who recently won favor in South Carolina.

In a column posted on on Jan. 20, Norris announced that he and his wife Gena will be supporting Gingrich. In the column, Norris said about Gingrich, “We believe Newt’s experience, leadership, knowledge, wisdom, faith and even humility to learn from his failures (personal and public) can return America to her glory days. And he is the best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine.”

Many entertainers have shelled out large amounts of money toward Barack Obama’s campaign, which has so far reined in a record-breaking $86 million in donations from about 550,000 donators. Big names like Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Garner and George Clooney are just a few of Obama’s supporters.

Other random names in the media have also thrown out their support, or alluded to candidates they might back in the future. The Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting have been noted to be supporting Rick Santorum, and Kelly Clarkson supports Ron Paul. Vanilla Ice tweeted about how impressed he was with Herman Cain before he withdrew from the race. The levels of absurdity can at least be a little bit amusing.

Not only do celebrities add to this mess, but the news media is equally guilty. When political analysts are your newscasters, of course the viewpoint your news is coming from is going to be skewed. Take these types of programs with a grain of salt. Expand your news sources to help gather information about different candidates.

Celebrity endorsements and certain media outlets, while interesting on a superficial level, should not be the end-all to deciding who you as an American citizen should support. Celebrities get one vote, just like everyone else.

Now is the time to become educated, follow the debates and make an informed decision while trying to avoid the very loud voice of the celebrities. Begin researching by visiting governmental sites that give straight facts and numbers, with no interpretation. Usually websites ending in .org are a safe bet. Keep track of the debate schedules and be aware of editorializing about opinions inserted in articles.

The election process has begun. If you’re going to vote this November, now is the time to get registered and get involved.