It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”
A study cited by Rick Shenkman, history professor at George Mason University, showed that about half of the country can describe the differences between the Democratic and Republican parties.
In 2003, a study conducted by the Strategic Task Force on Education Abroad found that American citizens’ ignorance of the outside world is so great, that it constitutes a national security risk.
This is a terrifying problem that has long plagued American politics. Politicians lie often. Most of us acknowledge that a candidate that we support lies, though we often say they don’t lie as often or as egregiously as their opponents.
At first, Americans had some excuses. Information is not always readily available. How were we to know what a candidate said in another state in 1976? Americans simply had no way to find out.
Then there was an information overload during the internet age, not all of it true. Information was everywhere, and there was a lot of it.
Now Americans have no more excuses. There are people dedicated to making sure that politicians are held accountable for their words. Americans can make fact-checking the norm in this country. Citizens would never have to hear about this entirely fabricated “Obama Apology Tour.”
“Voting to raise taxes,” can no longer be stretched to mean “Voting for tax cuts that don’t cut as much as other cuts.”
Becoming an informed voter is easier than ever and far less time consuming.
The nonpartisan website www.PolitiFact.org is run by the Tampa Bay Times and evaluates the truth of speeches, debate statements, advertisements and essentially any other way that politicians or their backers used to be able to lie to Americans without fearing retribution.
The site includes a small arsenal of tools to help you become a more informed voter, like their “Truth-O-Meter,” which measures statements made by politicians on a scale from “Pants on Fire,” to “True.”
Their is also Project VoteSmart (www.VoteSmart.org) is a bipartisan site which simplifies politics. It shows voting records and simplified stances of the candidates on most of the essential issues.
Project VoteSmart also has the Vote-Easy test which allows you to answer questions before being matched up with a candidate.
For information on campaign finances, you may want to check out www.Maplight.org, which is dedicated to informing voters on where political funding comes from.
The site includes an influence tracker for politicians as well as interest groups and ballot measures.
The information is there, it’s easy to find and it’s something Americans need.
Politicians won’t voluntarily decide to start telling the unabashed truth until Americans demand it. The only way to demand the truth is to find it when it’s available to us.
Do your research before Election Day and vote accordingly: choose based on the facts, not the false truths.