What the Public Deserves to Know

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What the Public Deserves to Know

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It’s not uncommon for people to see politicians committing crimes to gain fame and political standing in TV shows like Scandal, House of Cards or The West Wing. As much as we’d like to believe this is just fiction, the United States government does not have a perfectly clean slate of being forward and honest with the American people.

The country was founded on the idea that freedom of speech and expression is all about protecting what is said. But what about what’s not said? There are countless instances over the course of history of authority figures withholding information from people who deserve to know it. Constituents deserve to hear from their leaders about events pertinent to their daily lives, but those leaders don’t always follow through on their responsibilities.

When the government and other major organizations don’t keep their people in the loop, it is journalism that holds public officials responsible. When the New York Times and later the Washington Post went public with the information that the U.S. government had been withholding the truth that the Vietnam War was, by all counts, unwinnable, the American people found out the truth – that the Nixon administration had been lying about the sustainability of the war effort.

And when the Post published stories detailing the events that took place at the Watergate complex when members of Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to steal secrets about the opposition, the public lost even more trust in the Nixon administration, causing Nixon to eventually resign.

Consider what these events have in common – it is often politicians who are directly responsible for harm that comes to their constituents as a result of information being withheld. This is a strong indication that the most important means to guarantee that trustworthy politicians are in power is to vote. Not just in presidential elections, not even just in elections for the Senate, the House, or the governorships – every election matters, because it’s at every level that influential people are put in power. And it’s important to make sure these people are influential in positive, constructive ways.

The failure to inform takes many shapes. It can be as simple as telling a lie to one person, or it can be on as large a scale as a presidential administration lying to the public about its actions. Whatever the case, we as Americans are tasked with making an informed decision to put the most qualified and responsible people in power, and this is a duty we must uphold.

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