As we delve deeper into election season and get closer to the debates, I thought it would be helpful if I assembled a list of protips for an easier election season for everyone. These guidelines are meant to help you look intelligent and well-informed, or at least not completely ignorant.

1. Don’t start or participate in any Facebook discussions. I know it’s tempting to try and lay down the truth on your family members, friends, and that one girl from biology who added you despite the fact that you only talked twice. But stay strong, dear readers. The Facebook debate is an ugly creature. It pops up innocently enough in your newsfeed and so you comment, because who else is going to tell your Aunt Mabel that Obama isn’t actually a socialist? This is a larger role than you realize. The next thing you know, you’re left with notifications in the double digits, a headache, and they’ll be calling you the socialist! Just shake your head, laugh, and move on. You’ll thank me later.

2. Since you probably didn’t follow my first protip and you got yourself into a heated discussion, at least do yourself the favor of properly citing facts. Don’t be that guy who tells a story about someone he knows who saw someone on welfare cheat the system one time. Anecdotal evidence has no place in a serious discussion. And for the love of all that is true, don’t cite Fox News. You may just be laughed off the internet.

3. If you watch Fox News, just stop. Turn off the TV, walk away, and spend some time looking at your choices. Every station has its bias, naturally, but it’s pretty widely known that Fox News has some seriously inaccurate reporting. There are way, way better sources for information out there. I’d suggest checking out, where you can use their Truth-O-Meter function to track promises made by Obama and the GOP.

4. Don’t buy into the conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t born in America. The White House released his birth certificate, so just let it go. I mean, Kansas is even considering keeping him off of the ballot because they remain unconvinced. And the whole state legislature looks totally crazy for it. The only time it’s appropriate to reference the whole birther movement is when you’re asking why nobody wants to see Mitt Romney’s birth certificate because seriously, why is no one asking to see his birth certificate?

5. Learn when a pregnancy begins. You probably learned this in health class, but judging by the recent Arizona law that states a pregnancy begins two weeks before conception, I think we could all use a refresher. If you’re not sure, ask a doctor.

6. On a related note, if you’ve somehow been lead to believe that women who use birth control are sluts, well, my only advice to you is to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. Actually, do yourself a favor and stop listening to all political commentators who aren’t Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. These people make a living out of scaring the hell out of stay at home moms and the elderly, so as with Fox News, turn them off and seek more intelligent sources.

7. Don’t refer to people who enter America illegally as “illegals” or “border jumpers.” Not only is that dehumanizing, it’s rude. Take the time to learn about how difficult the immigration process is. Try and understand why someone in a hostile country would be willing to do anything to make a better life for themselves and their family. Thank God you were born in America. Move on.

8. On a related note, don’t try to argue that the “illegals” are coming to take our jobs. You know you aren’t planning to become a migrant worker or a hotel maid. Stop pretending that an illegal immigrant working a job you’d never even consider has an effect on the fact that you can’t find a job.

9. Stop acting as if someone else’s marriage is going to affect your personal life. If your marriage is really that unstable that the union of two people of the same sex is going to destroy it, you have bigger problems to worry about. On a related note, stop trying to argue that the “gay agenda” is ruining America. I have no idea what the “gay agenda” involves, but it probably includes, oh, I don’t know, marriage equality and protection from being discriminated at work. And that’s something we desperately need. If anything, the fact that we don’t have this equality is what’s ruining America.

10. This may be an obvious one, but make sure you’re registered to vote. Know where your polling location is. Make sure that you plan to set aside some time on November 6 to go vote. If nothing else, request an absentee ballot ahead of time. Take the time to research the candidates and the proposals. There’s no reason for anyone to claim that they didn’t vote because they couldn’t or didn’t know about the issues.