Relying on social media or mainstream media for understanding issues or learning about a politician’s/candidate’s position is a waste of precious time and energy. The rhetoric just gets in the way. Here’s a classic example from an excerpt of a Facebook post from a legislator: “Yesterday, The United States Department of Justice announced it would start attacking key portions of current health care law that require insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions. This reckless decision will raise costs and threaten folks across Montana. Instead of playing political games with our health, Congress and the Administration should be working to make health care more effective, accessible, and affordable.” Immediately, there were the usual responses from this legislator’s supporters praising this statement, and the usual responses from detractors condemning it. Then there was this, posted individually by a member of Montana Decides: “At the risk of bringing facts to the discussion, the DOJ did not announce it would “start attacking” the Affordable Care Act. Instead, the DOJ declined to defend ACA, siding with 19 states who argued that the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be invalidated, since the individual mandate that people have insurance or face a tax penalty is now unconstitutional.” A reply to this was quick in coming, asking that this response be corrected because the Affordable Care Act was ruled constitutional. Unfortunately, the entire response asking for a “correction” cannot be included here, since it was removed from Facebook. In its place was the following notation: “Most Relevant is selected, so some replies may have been filtered out.” The response that remained, “most relevant” by Facebook standards, was this: “Please reread my post. I was simply stating what the DOJ decided, using words that were factual. Not inflammatory. There’s a big difference between “start attacking” (inflammatory) and “declined to defend” (factual). I believe Montanans make informed decisions about politicians and legislation when they take responsibility for looking past the inflammatory rhetoric.” While it’s gratifying to see that Facebook deemed the response above “most relevant,” it’s also a little scary that Facebook is “editing” replies seemingly within minutes of the post. But the most disheartening thing about all this is that the intent of the initial reply was overlooked or ignored by the FB-deleted responder. The intent, of course, was to encourage people to look past the inflammatory stuff and, instead, use facts to help understand this legislator’s position. Montana Decides believes it is critical that every voter conducts an integrity check of candidates – is s/he acting on principles, not party line? – and that every voter embraces patriotism, not politics. The facts are easy to find. Get started here. Or you can continue to be swamped by the political rhetoric. Your choice.