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In Proportion as the structure of government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion be enlightened.

– George Washington

   

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.

– Thomas Jefferson

In order to be able to preserve our liberty, it is essential that we become informed.  If we don’t know our liberty is in jeopardy, we won’t be vigilant in protecting it.  If we don’t have the pertinent information needed to see if the governmnet is leading our country in the wrong direction, we won’t know that we need to call out, loud enough for the leaders of our country to hear, and convince them to change their direction.  It is incumbent upon us to inform ourselves.  It is in this spirit that I offer a list of information sources (keep in mind that it is a very partial list):

 

KNOW YOUR CONSTITUTION

It is your responsibility as an American to understand your Constitution.  You can’t possibly rise up in defense of the Constitution if you don’t know what is in it!  So go ahead – read The Constitution of the United States of America (you have time – it only takes about 20 minutes).

 

RANKING THE PRESIDENTS
It’s always fun to argue with friends, neighbors, co-workers and (especially) relatives  about which President(s) were great and which were terrible.  Over the years, various organizations have polled Presidential Historians to get their take on this question, and Wikipedia has done a decent job of collecting these polls into a single article and has even developed aggregate scores for all of our Presidents for easy comparisons. Please note that  – despite its good points – Wikipedia should generally not be used as a reference (because anyone can create and/or edit its pages, making it unreliable as a source).  However, most articles have links to references at the bottom, and these tend to be good primary and secondary sources.  In other words, Wikipedia is not a bad choice as a “starting point” for research – as long as you use it as a bridge to the legitimate sources listed at the end of the article, rather than as a source in  and of itself.

 

CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND/OR THE WHITE HOUSE

It is absolutely essential to keep in touch with your members of Congress.  Let them know how you feel about the issues of the day – believe it or not, they actually do pay attention to your opinions!
You can find your U.S. Senators by going to www.senate.gov and selecting your state.
You can find your U.S. Congressional Representative by going to www.house.gov (you will need to enter your 9-digit “ZIP+4” Code to link to your own Representative).
You can contact the White House at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact.

 

DAY-TO-DAY NEWS

You should read the national news in a major newspaper everyday.  Keep in mind that every newspaper has an editorial slant, which can usually be determined easily enough by reading the editorial page; take the slant into account when you read.  If you only have access to a local newspaper (as opposed to a “major” newspaper), it should still carry the wire service articles on its national news page(s).  Also, many of the major national newspapers offer a daily online version free of charge.  Among those that offer this free service are The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times.  You can also get online news and analysis at RawStory.com, fivethirtyeight.com,  and at Politico.com.

 

You should watch legitimate television news programs daily.  CNN, PBS and BBC News are worth watching, as is – believe it or not – the news programming on  Al Jazeera.  Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah focuses on the political news out of Washington D.C. as few others do, and does so in a very accessible, often hilarious way.  ABC, NBC and CBS all offer nightly national news, but beware of the “tabloid” tendency of these network news programs.  Don’t waste your time with local affiliate broadcasts; they consist primarily of car chases and crime reports, interspersed with thinly-disguised advertisements for the network’s programming.  Most importantly, DON’T watch the Fox News Channel – it’s nothing more than the propaganda wing of the Republican Party.  If you must watch opinion-based news, you’re better off watching  MSNBC (besides, they need the viewership!).

 

Watch the weekend political interview shows.  These include This Week on ABC, Meet the Press on NBC, Face the Nation on CBS, Late Edition on CNN, and even Fox News Sunday on Fox News (if you must), among others.

 

If it is available in your area (or you have satellite radio), listen to progressive talk radio when you can, and encourage your friends to do the same.  Some of the better hosts are Thom Hartmann,  Randi Rhodes, and Stephanie Miller.  STOP  listening to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Glen Beck, Michael Savage, or any of the rest of the right-wing nutcases (especially Coulter and Beck – they’re  just crazy).  Remember: Friends don’t let friends listen to Rush Limbaugh!  Want to have some fun?  Re-set your Limbaugh-listening friends’ radios to progressive talk without telling them – they’ll thank you!

 

© 2016 by David Bleidistel.  All rights reserved.