There’s More To Democracy Than Get Out The Vote

            With the midterm election coming up in a week, local matters. In fact, local IS the democracy that is touted as so valuable by those involved. In Granville there is a school tax on the ballot since all such taxes must be approved by the constituents of the district. Even though the school board is likewise elected to office by self same constituents, it lacks the authority to pass a tax. This year a group, self identified as Granville Common Sense Coalition, has opposed the tax through various street signs, promotions and even paid advertisements in the Advocate (10-9-22) as well as the Sentinel (10-13-22). As pointed out by various Advocate reports covering this matter as well as columnists, and even a letter to the editor by the League of Women Voters, the GCSC’s anti tax advocacy is based on a lot of lies, fabrications and misinformation. Just another case of “both side-ism” in today’s news media coverage of democracy in action? There is a subtle difference at play here. Once discerned, it becomes quite glaring. The rebuttals to the GCSC’s rationale are all authored by identifiable individuals. Even the League lists the members co-signing the letter, the reporters’ inquiry names election officials interviewed, the columnist signs his opinion, etc. As of this writing, no one at the Advocate has identified any member of the Granville Common Sense Coalition. Who are these people? After the SCOTUS Citizens United ruling it is improper to ask such a question as it is money that is speaking. Money is pretty much indistinguishable (a dollar is a dollar, any dollar). In this case it is dark money and purposefully anonymous at that. True, at the time of the founding of the republic, anonymity with regard to politically held views was accepted as part of the exchange of enlightenment era ideas made possible by the secular use of the printing press under the rule of a totalitarian monarchy. Although anonymous publications did much to foster the American revolution, the new constitution addressed the downside of anonymity (lies, misinformation, the stoking of chaos). The First Amendment protected individual speech, worship, etc. Anonymity has no such guarantee. Which brings us to the present day political quandary. How responsible is the Advocate (or any other platform like Fox News, Twitter, Meta, etc.) for the anonymous dissemination of lies, misinformation and the sowing of chaos? The Advocate has a very strict and specific no anonymous letter to the editor policy yet their coverage, and ads, have disseminated the GCSC’s outlook marvelously well (reminding one of our former president’s penchant that “any news coverage is good news”). Yet the Advocate ostensibly is about the facts, and the fact is the lie is out there and spreading its corrosive effects. (Analysis has just now dabbled in both side-ism) Shouldn’t the Advocate’s strict policy of no anonymous letters extend to its advertising or news coverage? (or any other platform at that?) Giving lip service to the First Amendment speech rights and liabilities while promoting the profit to be made off anonymous dark money sources is disingenuous (Gannett’s fearless investigative reporters can’t, or won’t, identify the make up of the GCSC).  There’s more to promoting democracy than get out the vote. There’s the chore of everyday living  in one.

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