Be sure to study the true facts before you vote

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I voted just a few hours after the early voting polls opened. I proudly showed my identification, got my instructions and performed one of the most important things a citizen of this country should do.

I walked away with a sticker. I also had the satisfaction that our great system works.

For the past month, I muted my television anytime they played a political ad. It didn’t matter if it was for a Republican or Democrat, I refused to be swayed by a 15-second sound bite. I did what most responsible voters should do. I looked at each candidate’s record and explored their positions on a variety of issues.

First, I’ve never subscribed to the single-issue voter. If you vote solely on your support for abortion rights or pro-life rights, then you are part of this country’s problems.

There are too many issues that all of us face. Crime. Inflation. The border. Education. Locally, it’s our growth and infrastructure. In short, it’s our future.

For nearly two weeks, I was hounded by a local reader who demanded I write a column denouncing Kat Cammack. He said she was one of the people who still feel Donald Trump won the election. He also questioned her record.

I refused because I don’t do letters to the editor or columns endorsing or criticizing any candidate. Moreover, Cammack won’t be the U.S. Rep. for Clay County after the inauguration. The winner of the Aaron Bean-LaShonda Holloway in the new 4th District which includes Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.

The biggest reason I ignore the clutter is there’s so much false information being spewed by candidates. Saying Republican voters all back Donald Trump is as irresponsible as saying all Democrat votes supported defunding the police. When you paint a party with a wide brush, there are going to be a lot of splatters.

Being misinformed is the greatest threat to our democracy. One party said the mid-term elections are about saving our democracy. The other touts saving our freedom. Both sound incredibly important, but neither means a thing. They are talking points. As voters, we need to be smarter.

Some claims are so outrageous they need to be called out. When President Joe Biden and other Democrat candidates repeatedly say Republicans want to end Social Security and Medicare, they are lying to you. That was a proposal mentioned by Florida Sen. Rick Scott a few months back. No other Republican signed onto that ridiculous idea. In fact, the Washington Post called it one of the biggest lies of the election cycle.

But they stick with that lie, providing again desperate people do desperate things.

Charlie Crist now is running an ad claiming Gov. Ron DeSantis raised taxes by $1 billion in Florida by signing the largest tax relief package in state history. Crist claims it only benefited the larger corporations and put the burden on the middle class. Another lie. Even the newspaper across the river, hardly a bastion of conservative thinking, called out Crist, calling the claim “misleading.”

But the Crist campaign is sticking with it. Again, desperate people do desperate things.

Democrats aren’t the only party trying to muddy the waters. Many Republicans are still claiming the 2020 election was stolen in Florida. DeSantis created an election police unit that recently announced the arrests of 20 people who voted illegally in 2020. That’s 20 people out of 14,461,755 registered voters in the state. Sounds like a complete waste of time and money.

Locally, voters are asked if term limits should be abolished for constitutional officers in Clay County. On the national level, that may be a good idea, especially since the most important job of a federal senator or representative is to be re-elected. But on a local level, however, where voters are smarter, I believe we already have self-imposed term limits. If somebody doesn’t do their job, we vote them out.

The point is, we should be as aware of our state and federal elections as we are of our local elections. In Clay County, we get it right most of the time. It’s because we make it a point to know our candidates. We’re smart enough to think past catchy one-liners and examine the real substance of a candidate.

So mute your television and do the same with the other candidates. You might be surprised by how much you’ve been misled.

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