As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once famously noted: “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”
By that he meant transparency is the only way to see that the public’s business is conducted cleanly.
That doesn’t mean, however, that our system of government is always spared from dirty politics. Most Americans know that negative campaigning cheapens the entire political process.
Unfortunately, few citizens take the time to do anything about it. Throughout this Sunshine Week, we have emphasized the need for transparency in our government. Open records are a key part of that transparency.
Documents like the voting records of elected officials are open to the public. So is information about those who give to the campaigns of our elected officials.
Voters should arm themselves with knowledge about the candidates and their positions and insist on holding all politicians accountable for spreading sleaze.
Strike a blow against mudslinging by doing a little research of these public records. Websites like votesmart.org, tn.gov/tref/ and opensecrets.org can help.