In the coming weeks most of us will be tasked with arguably our most important right as American citizens, the right to vote. The events of our recent past have brought us a political climate rife with division, fueled greatly by fear and ignorance. At a time when our nation has been rocked to its core by an economic disaster rivaled only by the Great Depression, we see a political charade being carried out before us by the very people who are tasked with resolving it. At a time when reason and diligence are needed we see fear mongering and obstructionism from too many of our elected officials. At a time when knowledge and know how should be at a premium we instead find lies and misinformation running rampant.

All of this makes it difficult for even the well informed among us to sort out the reality of our situation. How are we to make an informed decision about something as important as voting if we cannot filter through all the noise? Most of us are fortunate enough to have Internet access these days. That, coupled with an open mind and a desire to know the facts, is a powerful tool for the voter.

There are several independent, not for profit and politically unaffiliated websites that are available to anyone searching for facts. There are also many sites posing as news sites that offer opinion and rhetoric cloaked in a news format. Here are a few sites that I have found helpful in my search for the facts. PolitiFact.com is a Pulitzer Prize winning site that deals in all things political and gives you the ability to search by person or by subject. FactCheck.org is another independent site that recently ran a revealing story about the GOP "Pledge to America." Go there to see how factually inaccurate it really is. A good politically oriented news site can be found in Politico.com. They do a nice job of unbiased reporting. If you want to check out claims made by the extreme political right, go to Mediamatters.com. Here you will find the facts about outrageous claims made by the likes of Limbaugh, Beck and Sarah Palin.

An old adage says that "you can fool some of the people all of the time." That is what many politicians count on. That is why you see this barrage of TV and print ads filled with lies and misinformation. They are counting on you being too busy, or too apathetic to actually investigate what they claim. In the end it is up to each of us to cast our vote in an informed and reasoned manner. Voting is not a spectator sport. It is the very heart of democracy and must be used wisely. Those who attempt to sway your vote with lies and deception do disservice not only to you, but to the nation as a whole. Fostering ignorance does nothing to promote democracy. Putting party and politics before one's country is not how this nation was founded and is certainly not how it should be run. Use your vote wisely, for we will all suffer the consequence of ignorance.

Scot Calhoun

Long Beach

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