There are a lot of parallels between what’s going on at the national level right now and what’s been going on in Monroe County for decades. The Trump administration has ushered in an era of “fake news” and “alternative facts”. People are justifiably horrified. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” are booming. For people in the Keys, this is just the same old, same old. Their local governments have pushed “fake news” and “alternative facts” since time began.
I found this really interesting article at Vox.com. It’s an interview with Gary Kasparov, a staunch critic of Vladimir Putin. Putin, of course, is the authoritarian leader of Russia and target of our new president’s undying love and admiration. Trump has made hateful comments about everyone from the disabled to veterans who have served our country admirably. But for his beloved Vladimir he’s got nothing but praise.
Kasparov has been fighting his battle against Putin for a long time, and he’s got some advice to share. Advice that I think might help folks in the Keys improve their lot. I know people are often disgusted by the seeming apathy of Keys citizens. But I actually think I understand it. People are so overwhelmed by the constant lies and misrepresentations, they shut down. I see it in myself, too. Fact-checking people who do not like to be fact-checked is hard work and its exhausting. There are only so many hours in a day.
I talked about that here, and Kasparov discusses it as well.
Here’s a tweet from Kasparov.
The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.
They learned that by constant bombardment, your senses become overwhelmed. You start to doubt, to shrug your shoulders, to tune out, and that makes you vulnerable. Instead of pushing one lie, one fake, they can push a dozen, or a hundred, and that’s pretty good odds against one lonely truth. They win when you say: “Who can be sure what really happened?”
Sounds so grim and depressing. And it is. But Kasparov has some good advice for those willing to fight.
…it’s important to focus on what matters most so you don’t lose track in all the noise and chaos that Trump creates so effortlessly.
Monroe County, too, is expert at creating noise and chaos. They bounce from CRISIS! to CRISIS! without ever satisfactorily resolving a single one. There’s never a comprehensive strategy – at least not one that they stick to. It’s more about extracting money from the taxpayers and maybe a little from the state. Case in point, after having made a hot mess of the wastewater projects, the county is desperate to move on to canal restoration – the latest and greatest.
Stick to the facts, repeat them boldly and frequently, so [Trump’s] supporters see the would-be emperor has no bathrobe!
Note: I added the link about Trump’s bathrobe. Too funny not to share.
That’s what I try to do on this blog. I probably have repeated myself a thousand times, but there’s a reason for it. A lot of the lies pushed by the county and the FKAA are assumed to be true simply because they are repeated so frequently, and never challenged. If you can get people to believe lies through repetition, maybe you can get them to believe the truth through repetition, too.
I also back-up whatever I can with documentation; and I provide links to that documentation. You see, I can always be discredited through ad hominem attacks. Anyone can. It’s a lot harder for the county (or the FKAA) to attack the credibility of their own documents.
Trump will continue to push the limits, to find the cracks in the system that constrains him. America is finding out the hard way that much of its government is based on tradition and the honor system, and not explicit laws. There will be a crisis every day.
Yes. The county and the FKAA work around the edges. They find loop holes. They exploit weaknesses in the system. They hide what they’re doing by following the letter of the law but not the spirit. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to flout the law while at the same time staying just barely on the right side of it. The Toppino situation is a perfect example.
Laws are for honest people. You read the law. You follow it. If you’re a crooked public official, you read the law and you figure out how to get around it without getting caught. Or, even if you do get caught, you figure out how to avoid serious consequences.
With Dennis Ward’s return to the state attorney’s office, we might see more legal action against corrupt public officials. He sure seems serious about it. But it is really hard to make it stick. I expect improvement, but not miracles.
All that’s to say, the legal system will only get us so far.
Everyone must do what they can themselves and not wait for others to act. If you want change, you have to initiate action, even at a personal level that might seem insignificant. As the motto of Soviet dissidents went: “Do what you must, and so be it.”
The Blue Paper does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting the truth out. But they can’t do it all. I do what I can when I can through this blog. There are a lot of smart, observant folks in the Keys. I hope other watchdogs will start barking, and let us know what they see.