At every election since I can remember I have been increasingly confused by ads mailed to my house and those on TV whether to vote for or against a Bill or Proposition or candidate or whatever. Ads seem to be written to confuse you rather than educate you. I have on more than one occasion voted for the wrong thing. The titles of the Bill or Propositions themselves often do little to clear up the confusion. A properly functioning Democracy depends a literate votership. But if the literate voters cannot understand what they are voting for than literacy is irrelevant. There should be laws against deceptive political ads but this would infringe on the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights of advertisers. So there we we are stuck with deceptive advertisement intended to confuse voter into voting for something they don’t want to vote for. That is Democracy in action in the Unites States, the shining example to the world of what democracy is all about.
So what is the public’s recourse? I now go to the websites of organizations that are synergistic with my values and beliefs to see what they say about issues and candidates up for election. For examples since I am an environmentalist I usually go to the Sierra Club’s website to find out which environmental issues they support and which candidates they endorse. I research on the web mainstream news media for articles on issues and candidates of interest.
The problem with most ads are that you really don’t know who is paying for them. Just reading the supposed backer of an ad displayed is as deceptive as the add itself. It could be from a committee that calls itself anything. You really don’t have a hint who put up the money for it. I now tend to discount any advertisements I see, hear, or read any more unless I am very familiar with it in which case I really don’t need the ad to decide what to vote for.
There is a Senate Bill SB 52 authored by Senators Mark Leno and Jerry Hill entitled the California DISCLOSE Act that is being reintroduced into the State senate. This crucial bill would mandate a clear and prominent disclosure of the 3 top contributors by name who are behind any political TV, radio, print, and state mailer ads on the ads themselves. Thus we will have more transparency of ads by knowing who is actually paying for them. SB 52 will stop special interest contributors from hiding behind fake committee names by requiring ads to show their actual names. This will make it far more difficult for them to deceive the voting public. For more information go to http://www.yesfairelections.org/about/ and sign the petition in support of this important Bill as I have. Do your own research on the Bill to convince yourself that it is indeed as I represent it.
We need more transparency in government and it needs to start with elections. It is vital that we know exactly what we are voting for or against. Knowing who is paying for political ads is essential in understanding the true message behind them. It will keep them more honest and you more informed. There is no question that laws such as this are clearly needed for all voters. We need to know which companies and unions are in support or against candidates and issues. This will end up making our democracy truly represent our feelings and opinions. There is absolutely no down side for the voters, only for deceptive advertisers. I feel very strong about this bill and am going to back the bill however I can. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, this Bill will benefit you. It is not the cure all but it is a step in the right direction for a more transparent government, something we all want. Be an informed voter. Support SB 52 the California DISCLOSE Act for more transparent elections in California. Write your State senator or assemblyman about supporting it. Ask friend to sign the petition at http://www.yesfairelections.org/.