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LETTER: Voters bear big responsibility during election season

Thanks, Central Michigan Life Editorial Board for your great editorial on Friday. We agree, the media should fact check political claims, and we also agree that too often, they merely report what they hear, as if “journalistic neutrality” required them to keep a straight face. In that climate, “truthiness” wins out over truth, manipulation over evidence, and emotion over reason.

But journalists aren’t the only ones with a responsibility here. If we didn’t fall for “truthiness” – if we weren’t so willing to believe something is true because we want it to be — politicians wouldn’t rely on telling us what we want to hear in order to get our votes!

It takes effort and skill to overcome our natural tendency to resist others’ ideas and just go with what we want to believe, but with practice, we can open our minds enough to consider alternatives, and we can learn to weigh the merits each of them – including our own. (Ouch! – that last part can hurt! But, hey, isn’t higher education supposed to teach us how to do that?)

This fall, “Speak Up, Speak Out: The Current Events Series” will give you a chance to get informed, find reliable information and join conversations about the candidates, their platforms, their political talk and their advertising. The first SUSO forum will be on “Campaign Me$$ages: Who’s Paying, Who’s Talking and What Are They Saying?” (Wednesday, Sept. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the UC Auditorium.) The forum will begin with video clips from the conventions, key speeches, interviews with political figures and of course, ads. After that, the conversation opens up for audience participation. The topics for discussion are:

— What messages are candidates and their supporters communicating to the public?

— Whose money is behind political ads? How are Super PACs and special interests shaping the message?

— Are campaigns targeting some demographics over others?

— Are they telling the truth or distorting the facts?

— Do the messages reflect the candidate's priorities?

There will be five SUSO events focused on the presidential elections this fall. Watch CM Life for information on later forums and the SUSO party on election night. (Yes, of course there will be free pizza!)

Andrew Blom (PHL/REL) “Campaign Me$$ages” Forum Facilitator, SUSO Organizing Committee Member Merlyn Mowrey (PHL/REL) Chair, SUSO Organizing Committee