The United States is the oldest democratic republic in existence. It will remain so only with an informed electorate. That electorate is possible when it is able to determine the meaning of all it sees, hears and reads.

It is natural for our attention to be drawn to the sensational and controversial. We should be concerned about mass murders in our schools and Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. We see and hear about such issues through television, radio, newspapers, magazines and the ubiquitous social media. This comes to us 24/7. That makes it hard to make sense about what is happening and to keep focused. Being an informed electorate is not easy.

We must take all the information bombarding us and determine what is reasonably true. “Fake news” and “alternative facts” are the same thing with different labels. Both are intended to deceive us, presented to divert our attention from what is real. We should make a methodical and thoughtful effort to develop an intelligent approach for our political discourse.

This requires evaluation of our sources. Are they biased to the right or left? Do these sources plant false information to arouse our emotions? Do they misrepresent legitimate cause and effect relationships? How much do our own prejudices affect our evaluations?

We must do this. If not, we will be led blindly by others or remain slaves to our biases. We must do this to be the informed electorate that will perpetuate our democratic republic.

Daniel E. Spector