To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful.
Edward R. Murrow
If the citizens of Los Osos vote for the recall and vote for the sewer initiative, we will have witnessed something absolutely astonishing: A community waking up and changing the status quo in the face of very powerful, entrenched opposition. It will be a community that saw through all the hokum, spin, fear tactics, finally understood that nobody would save them except themselves, that they understood that the right lie said at the right time cannot be undone by any government agency. Not even the law can correct that original lie. That is a job for the people alone, if they’re smart enough and fearless enough to change course to avert disaster for themselves and their community.
That the recall and initiative ever reached a ballot is, in itself, a remarkable feat. People HATE recalls. They hate making waves, they hate having to think their elected officials are heading in the wrong direction, they hate having to do anything about anything. Too often, they don’t know, don’t care and don’t care to know. And, more often than not, they’ll work overtime NOT to know. Denial is a powerful human instinct.
So, instead of doing the hard work of changing a bad situation, they will endure the worst policy decisions, decisions that can end up costing them their fortune and their life, and instead just hunker down and wait it all out or shrug cynically and say, “Oh, well, what can you do? Guess we’ll just have to go along with it.”
Even more telling is simple human nature itself. People tend to divide into two camps: The larger majority consists of people who obey; they do what they’re told, they do not question authority, but instead assume authority is truthful and has their best interest at heart. The other, slightly smaller camp consists of people who challenge everything, they do not obey without sound reason, they won’t do as they're told until and unless they have proof that whatever it is they’re suppose to be obeying will be of benefit to them and, above all, they know from hard experience, governments lie.
What will be of interest here in Los Osos will be to see three numbers: How many people did NOT vote (don’t know, don’t care, don’t care to know) and how many voted for the status quo and how many voted for change. In short, is Los Osos filled with sheep or growly bears?
The status-quo “Save The Dream” campaign has certainly offered a clear insight into a mind frame that views the members of this community, not as serious, adult citizens needing accurate, truthful information on a complex and town-changing civic project, but as marks to be manipulated with slick Madison Avenue advertising ploys and totally misleading and flatly untruthful ads. In short, the Save The Dreamers view me, for example, as nothing but a mark waiting to be fleeced; a sucker with “hot-buttons” to be pushed, prey to fear and easily stampeded into a panic with ginned up “threats” and phony scare tactics. I am not a citizen, just a customer to be sold overpriced soap.
I always find such information nice to know, because it also allows a glimpse into the ethical standards at work by the group putting out such phony baloney. It also shows what lengths they’ll go to maintain the status quo. Which always begs the question: If the status quo is so wonderful, why lie about it? Why all the ginned up hokum? Why would threats be necessary to keep everyone in line if the status quo is so grand? And why should I believe people who have demonstrated they have no ethical standards and who keep repeatedly lying to me?
Well, it’s now in the hands of the citizens of this fair burg – my Beloved Bangladesh By The Bay. And for now, Edward R. Morrow's closing tag line -- “Good night, and good luck” -- is most suitable.
Good Luck? Los Osos will need it.