By Sen. Patrick Colbeck
In a world full of access to more information than ever before, it is remarkable that the information we most need is often the hardest to find – the truth.
The truth was very important to our Founding Fathers:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”
Why is the truth hard to find today?
Perhaps it is apathy. There are many other pleasures in life to pursue. Why spend precious time dwelling on the search for the truth regarding the issues of the day?
Perhaps it is simply the volume of information. Most of us are inundated with information from email, websites, TV and newspapers.
Perhaps it is confusion. In our 30-second sound bite world, critical thinking often succumbs to impulsive thinking as people adopt the “truth” that is pushed to them in the most frequent, entertaining and engaging manner.
Many “truth” organizations have popped up to take advantage of our desire for the truth. One thing I know for sure is that the more we abdicate our jobs as responsible citizens, the more we grow in dependence upon those who would seek to use this dependence for their own gains. Many organizations are more than willing to fill that job for us. Many of these organizations do not have truth as their primary objective.
Nowhere is the need for truth more evident than in proposed changes to the Michigan Constitution this November. Each of us will be bombarded by media ads marketing one side of the issue or another, but did you know that the marketing has also found its way onto your ballot?
You see, the wording of each proposal to amend the constitution only shows a “summary” of the proposed amendment. These summaries are generally filled with marketing platitudes, since the full text of the amendments does not typically fit within the 100 word constraint of the ballot. The actual wording of each amendment as it would appear in our constitution can be found in the original ballot petitions filed with the State Board of Canvassers. These petitions can be found on the State Board of Canvassers web page, which is located in an obscure corner of the secretary of state website (www.michigan.gov/sos) under “Elections in Michigan.”
Our governor and attorney general attempted to protect the Michigan Constitution when they filed court papers challenging Proposal 2 on the basis that the truth of its impacts could not be summarized in 100 words or less. These potential impacts are significant and would likely include a $1.6B tax increase that would push jobs out of our state not “protect” them. In my opinion, Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette were correct to raise concerns over Proposal 2.
You can decide for yourself, however, by reviewing the actual petitions and comparing them to the 100 words or less ballot wording. You now have a choice to make as a citizen. Will you take the advice of the former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and “pass the bill” before you see what's inside, or will you “READ THE BILL” before casting your vote?
The key to consistently understanding the truth is to go to the source materials. When I vote in the Senate, I make my voting decisions on the basis of the actual bill, not the summaries from legislative analysts. Legislative summaries provided by analysts are nice to have as reference, but the summaries are not what get put into law. Such is the case with the proposal language that will appear on our ballots this November. The summaries are not what are put into law. The original petition wording is what goes into law if the proposal is passed.
There is no substitute for source documents, source videos or source statements. When people are simply talking about information sources rather than pointing you to the source, it should raise concerns as to whether or not their assertions are true. It may take you more time to find and review the source information, but you will sleep much better with your decision.
Sadly, the truth is often controversial. I know that I may be ridiculed and attacked for the simple act of exhorting my fellow citizens to pursue the truth. I take solace, however, from the following words of wisdom from Mahatma Gandhi:
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” –Mahatma Gandhi.
When the truth wins, we all win. After all, it is truth that sets us all free.