Did you do your homework?

For college kids, August marks the return to school and hopefully renewed vigor to embrace learning. But the pursuit of knowledge requires more than listening to lectures, cracking books and writing papers. Real learning involves research, analysis and measurement against truth before you can answer any questions. Bottom line is it requires some effort, a.k.a. homework. We expect our kids to do it, but are we willing to do the same?

In case you’ve been away or tried to escape what’s going on in the US, it’s an election year. Both the Democratic and Republican candidates are lining up determined to get our vote. Rather than go into the negative ads or address PR ploys and half truths, I’d like to ask a question. Would you be willing to do your homework? If so, you can use the acronym RAM.

Research

Would you be willing to do your own research? This might involve foregoing the nightly news with its biased reporting to find genuine, reliable sources for information on both sides. You can start with each party’s website to see the issues they are considering most important, but I’d suggest you make your own list of priorities first to see if either side is in touch with the pulse of the real people. Then look at their records and jot down the facts. What have they done in the past? How did they accomplish what they wanted to do? Were their methods constitutional? What was their rate of success or impact? Do they share a consistent message with all audiences? Once you get into the research, you’ll find you have a lot more topics for discussion on your own. See if you can find answers. Look for opportunities and forums to ask your questions. When you find them, jot down the responses. You might want to organize the information as you get it. (Time always seems to be at a premium.) A chart might be a helpful tool when you get to the next step.

Analyze

You’ve got some of the facts. Now you need to review them to determine how their platform aligns on the issues. Are they consistent across the board? Do they discriminate against any particular group? (Baby boomers might want to pay particular attention here.) Do they have a reputable track record? Have their programs / policies worked? Are you personally and the country as a whole better or worse off since their election? (Obviously this is for incumbents, but it’s important we ask and not be clouded by media and ads. Do your homework here as well.)

Measure

One last step before you make your decision. How do both sides measure against truth? For Christians, the standard would include the Word of God, but all citizens should look to the Constitution. Some choose to redefine it and history while others understand the original intent of its authors. The Constitution has served us well for over 200 years. It is what made us great as a nation.

Before you head to the polls, I would ask, “Did you finish your homework?”

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