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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 1, 2016
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Come to think of it
with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia
OPINIONS

April Fools

come

Prepare yourselves because the campaign season has officially started and most of the politicos, their spin masters, and their diehard supporters will be trying their best to either fool the gullible public or make fools of themselves for the entire month of April (and a couple of days after May).

Don't be a fool who believes everything that is posted on social media. The election fever has turned my Facebook feed into a daily exercise in critical thinking because of all the garbage that is floating around. Even people who I thought were smart and/or rational have been quick to either share or like posts that are obviously dubious and/or propaganda material created by biased parties. Fake endorsements are everywhere. Photoshopped “facts” and statistics pop up every day. Unconfirmed testimonies are everywhere. The fools who believe everything on social media these days are multiplying by the minute.

The only way to avoid being one of these fools is to look at your social media feed with an impartial and critical eye. 80 percent of what is shared by most of your friends isn't true anymore. Posts that praise your preferred candidate and the ones that bash rival candidates are most likely made up. Don't be a moron that spreads the misinformation and the lies by sharing and liking indiscriminately because while it may make your candidate look good and make the others look bad, it honestly makes you look worst by confirming to your impartial and undecided friends what kind of fool you have become.

When it comes to traditional media, please take the time to understand the difference between fact and opinion. This is one of the lessons my Grade 2 daughter learned this school year and the election fever has made me realize why our educational system is trying to teach this to our kids and it makes me feel bad that so many of us have already forgotten the simple lessons we have been taught in grade school. News is supposed to be factual. Opinions are not. An “opinion writer” such as yours truly is not necessarily always smart and correct. They could be wrong and misinformed, they are most likely biased, and a lot of their so-called principles can be bought (quite cheaply I hear). So their ringing endorsement of certain candidates most likely mean nothing. Those who bother to follow the more established and respected opinion writers of this country will see that usually don't vacuously endorse candidates.

Don't be a gullible voter when it comes to the candidates. Be critical of the promises they make as well as of their past performance. Always try to fact check their claims and question their motives. If it's too good to be true, it probably is. Never forget that the money for whatever it is they claim to do come from the taxes that you have paid and not from their own pockets. Prioritize integrity and competency over some weird personal, cultural or geographic connection. Doubt everything a politician says. If for some weird, selfish, or personal reason you can't disregard them outright, double doubt everything a politician that is currently out on bail for stealing or misusing public funds says.

The April of 2016 is special because April Fools is going to last the entire month because it is the candidate that gets to fool the most people in April who will win in May. This is a rather cynical way of looking at the campaign period but if you come to think of it, that is one of the more accurate descriptions for the political circus that started a couple of days ago.

Take the Presidential elections for example. We have a guy who has been trying to fool his gullible countrymen by refusing to face grave allegations of wholesale corruption. There's this girl who's been fooling her supporters by unashamedly riding on dead father's popularity that has nothing do with any platform of governance. There's also this macho guy who claims to solve this country's problems with criminality in 3-6 months and the anointed but unpopular bureaucrat who claims that he can do better as president with a seemingly knowledgeable grasp of the facts and realities of governance but his record as cabinet secretary in the last 6 years hasn't been particularly impressive. Now would be a great time to ask yourself who is doing the best job at fooling you at this point and to step back and criticize the reasons why you willingly allowed yourself to be fooled by that particular candidate. If the fooling is mutual, then carry on. If you have doubts, feel free to be a critic while checking out the claims of the other candidates.

The local races where there are neither platforms nor principles are even more foolish. We still have to choose our own fools. While some people may foolishly choose their candidates based on personal experience, perceived connections, and maybe an irrational dislike for the other guy, we really need to work on becoming less foolish and becoming more rational and critical when it comes to the people who will be leading our communities. Ask questions. If you can't ask them directly, ask their rabid supporters. If they cannot answer satisfactorily, ask the other guy. Be critical, vet them properly, think of your children, think of your city. Then make your choice.

Don't allow yourself to be easily fooled this April so you don't make a foolish choice this May.*

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