Aside from fact-checking, we need more truth-tellers

Adolf Hitler pointed out the principle of the Big Lie: People will believe a big lie sooner than a little one, and if you repeat it frequently enough people take it as gospel truth. Educating voters on the effects of negative campaigning and black propaganda have been recurrent themes in BlogWatch voters’ education since 2010.

The phrase “negative campaigning” is often being done during the campaign period. I consider disinformation (fake news) as black propaganda because it is covert and uses false information. Disinformation means “the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false”. The purveyors of black propaganda target most of the misinformation and disinformation towards leading candidates in the surveys. The lies and propaganda are out there to create doubt if you are an undecided voter. Another goal is also to suppress voter turnout. Deceptive or exaggerated claims targeting individual candidates even if not in the survey’s “magic 12” is happening, too.

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I find myself busy with voters’ education in collaboration with poll watchdog group Kontra Daya in schools and religious organizations the past few weeks. This time around, BlogWatch role is not just teaching voters on their selection criteria or on the effects of negative campaigning. Many are eager to learn about fact-checking, how to vote in an automated election and selecting a party-list. After each fact-checking session, I encourage a call to action.

READ: A call for more truth tellers — a workshop on blogging and social media as weapons of truth

More than fact-checking, we need more truth tellers.

Lies travel faster than the truth. When not speaking, you are contributing to the disinformation.

By not speaking up, you are allowing the lie to spread.

The call to action struck a chord among the participants. Most of them want to go beyond fact-checking. The only effective weapon against the “Big Lie” are truth and reason.

Reason dictates we be discerning in our choice of whom to vote for. Look at the candidates’ platforms, how they respond to issues, their public and (if possible) private demeanor. Fact-checking techniques come in handy here. Try to see behind the mask. Examine their past record and accomplishments. Once you have selected your candidates, promote them online and offline to friends and relatives.

Look beyond survey results. Poll results show the popularity of a candidate at the time of the survey. Let’s not waste our vote by basing it on trending and survey-driven analysis. Be wary of online surveys as some are susceptible to manipulation by bots.

Resist the urge to be cynical.
Realize that you are the focus of negative campaigning: The undecided, the critical, the careful voter. The intention is to manipulate you. You don’t have to vote against the mudslinging candidate for him or her to win. They want you not to discourage you not to vote on election day. If you stay away, their dirty tricks would have worked. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

Choose to be kind over being right. There are times your close friends or family members might post fake news. The best recourse is to be patient and tell the truth through a private message. If you think they will become sensitive about being corrected, post the facts in your timeline. There are ways to deal with friends and family who spread fake news or have a different political leaning from us but we must be prudent and preserve relationships

Let’s attempt to distinguish the truth from the lies. Easier said than done, given all the surrounding disinformation. But it would be worthwhile to try, anyway.

Don’t expect to get the truth from politicians.

Keep in mind Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter’s observation that:

“Politicians are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth.”

It’s up to us to break the shackles of ignorance and apathy by educating ourselves and finding out the real score regarding the people we want to vote into office. It won’t be easy but if we persevere, the truth will reveal itself. The real challenge is if we have the courage to face the painful fact we deserve the leaders we end up with.

The next synchronized National and Local Elections (NLE) will happen on May 13, 2019. You can make a difference. Be a truth-teller. Take action. In your area/s of influence, fight for the truth, your principles and values. Don’t let lies and intimidation take over the public sphere where democracy lives.