We Must Anchor to TRUTH
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)
I want to return briefly to the ex-mayor’s recent missive, and now focus on how it allows us to judge credibility and thereby anchor to TRUTH.
In two short sentences, the ex-mayor made four different, easily refutable misrepresentations. The ex-mayor falsely wrote that the current Council (a) met secretly (they did not), (b) voted to amend Addison’s Charter (they cannot and did not), (c) eliminated term limits (been in the Charter since 1993) and (d) made it more difficult to unseat incumbents (25 signature petition applies to everyone, including incumbents). So, why would the ex-mayor make such demonstrably false statements?
The simple answer is because he believes he can. Because he has surrounded himself with a cadre of loyal followers who will defend anything he says, without regard to truth or falsity. This is the world he created for himself when he was in power. Indeed, it is how he SEIZED power.
Back then, the ex-mayor systematically fed an atmosphere of division. “Us versus them.” This deflected attention from WHAT was said, and focused his followers on WHO was saying it. His followers embraced it, supporting anything and everything the ex-mayor said, no matter how false and misleading his claims were. Misrepresentations paved the way for more and bigger misrepresentations. And that fed the inexplicable suggestion that the sheer volume of misrepresentations becomes the measure of their truth.
By focusing his sycophant followers on the WHO, the ex-mayor manipulated them to defend WHAT he said, without regard to truth or falsity. They heard nothing else and listened to no one else, dismissing all of it because it came from “them.” That made the ex-mayor the sole source of their truth, and concurrently allowed him to point to them as evidence of support. It was entirely circular and it fabricated a supposed legitimacy that had no basis in TRUTH on any level. It paved the way for the ex-mayor’s false, self-serving narrative, and allowed him to create an alternate reality of (UN)truth.
And it gave the ex-mayor POWER. Raw power. Power that allowed him to control the council for two years following the 2014 election. Power that he wielded ruthlessly. Power that harmed Addison immeasurably. Power that even now makes him comfortable penning demonstrably false claims with impunity via a letter sent to 7,500 people.
The ex-mayor’s missive is important precisely because his brazen misrepresentations about non-existent secret meetings and Charter issues are so easily disproven. The ease with which he wrote those two sentences speaks volumes about his lack of credibility. All of which is valuable insight that anchors us to the TRUTH, providing an important and necessary filter that enables us to view the remainder of his letter – and whatever is to come – with appropriate skepticism.
Lies beget more lies. Small lies cumulate and pave the way for big lies. We learned about it in kindergarten. It’s wrong, and it isn’t a path forward for Addison.