With elections right around the corner, it seems as if we are being bombarded now, more than ever, with political advertisements in a last ditch effort to secure our votes. However, it is important that individuals are able to distinguish the truth from the sensationalist fluff in these advertisements, so that they may form their own opinion.
Jennifer Sheppard, a journalism professor at Seminole State and head advisor of the Seminole Scribe agrees that these politicians have an ethical obligation to report the truth.
“It’s like your mom says, if you’re not going to tell the whole truth then I don’t want to hear anything,” she said.
Mike Ertel, the official ballot counter for Seminole County, also raised a compelling point.
He helped kick off the event by asking, “How many of you chose Seminole State College because you heard someone say terrible things about Valencia?”
After a brief silence, during which nobody raised their hands, he asked a follow up question. “If we don’t allow these things in our business life and our personal life, then why do we allow them in our political life?”
The simple answer, of course, is that is just the way the system works. During the open discussion, it was established that money is the force that drives the political election machine, and the unfortunate truth is that it is far easier to bash the competition than it is to take a definitive stance on an issue.
But, it is not just the responsibility of the politicians to ensure that the truth is being used to represent them. Voters themselves also carry the burden of responsibility to make sure they are educated on issues properly, so they can form their own opinions. There are plenty of ways to do so from fact-checking websites to reading news material from international sources.
Indeed, it is easy to take the beauty of having the freedom to vote for granted when one doesn’t know life by any other standards. But, it is important that we take the time to do our research so that we can make a proper informed decision.
As Mike Ertel said, “the ads you see on television are not geared towards people who are going to do their research and get the facts; they are geared towards the people who are buying the gum at the end of the aisle at Target because it’s colorful and not because it doesn’t have a lot of sugar.”