Enough! Who has time for all this research? In the final analysis many of us have learned to cut through the bewildering facts and arguments ... and simply consider which organizations support or oppose the proposition. If the issue is related to health care and the proposition is being underwritten by the insurance industry, I am likely to vote the other way. On the other hand, if a consensus of Democratic organizations urges me to vote one way or the other, I will normally follow their guidance.
There is a Latin phrase attributed to the Roman consul Lucius Cassius who was regarded by the people as an honest and wise judge. That phrase is "cui bono," which translates "to whose benefit." The idea is that the person responsible for some action is generally the one who benefits from the action and that that person may not be who it appears at first to be. In a legal sense this phrase suggests that a person guilty of a crime is one who stands to benefit financially from the crime. This person may not be always apparent since subterfuge may be used to divert attention (e.g., to a scapegoat).
The modern equivalent to "cui bono" may be "follow the money." If a political issue arises that is laden with scientific or financial complexities, the layman can generally ferret out the truth by determining which organization is likely to financially benefit from the political issue. The layman now has a strong foundation for making an informed decision.
So let's test the concept of "follow the money." Suppose the medical community determines that the use of tobacco is highly addictive. Now suppose that a group of tobacco company CEO's testifies before Congress that tobacco isn't addictive. So whom does the layman believe? Well, we all know that this did indeed happen in 1994, and most people understood that the CEOs' testimony was untruthful because they financially stood to lose a lot of money if fewer people smoked. Americans already had a lot of experience with tobacco company deceit, especially related to lung cancer.
Now suppose that a debate is raging on the science behind climate change. On one side, numerous relatively low-paid scientists from government and academia state that the climate is indeed changing and that the change is due to greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. On the other side, a few scientists dispute this claim. You discover that the work of these latter scientists is funded by petroleum companies. As an astute layman, you realize that the petroleum companies will be hurt if climate change legislation is passed reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mandating a shift to alternative energy sources such as solar or wind. Therefore it follows that these companies have probably funded scientists to intentionally deny climate change and that the minority views of these scientists (3% of all climate scientists) are being widely broadcast. You conclude that the 97% of scientists from academia and government who state that human activities are causing climate change are telling the truth.
Let's consider "supply-side economics." We are assured by GOP politicians that tax cuts for the wealthy and for major corporations will lift the economy and help the poorest of us. The astute layman has trouble making mathematical sense of these claims, but he/she cannot imagine that these politicians would intentionally tell untruths that would hurt many of our citizens. However, upon reflection, the layman realizes that these politicians are dependent on financial contributions from wealthy donors to continue in office. It is logical that these donors expect a financial return from their contributions ... perhaps lower tax rates. The politicians are then left to make specious arguments that defy common sense to get tax legislation passed to further reduce the "burden" on the wealthy.
Let's consider the Affordable Care Act. Many progressives wanted a single-payer health plan, effectively cutting out the insurance industry and thereby saving perhaps 20% of administrative costs. We were told that this plan was not even on the table. The astute layman realized that the very wealthy insurance industry strongly opposed single payer and let the politicians understand that their vote in the insurance company's favor would be rewarded with sizable campaign contributions.
One other example, the financial debacle of 2008. So why were there no criminal convictions of the financiers who caused the crisis? We know the answer by simply "following the money." And in this case, the financiers did not simply wield campaign contributions as a weapon ... they also shuttled friends in congress and in the financial regulatory agencies into high-paying financial jobs. This is perhaps the most egregious "follow the money" scenario thus far.
This method seems to apply to most of the issues in the modern-day polity. There are exceptions, though, and these are primarily issues sponsored by Christian groups, the most notable of which are abortion and contraception.
So there you have it. Try the “follow the money” (cui bono) method on any issue you encounter in the future. It may help you get to the truth of the matter and give you a basis for making an informed decision.