This is the very mistake that dragged the “opposition” down. When they see people voicing support for the Marcoses, Duterte, Trump or other perceived “dictator,” they would attack, insult and besmirch such people, accusing them of being “trolls.” They think by insulting or libeling “dictator’s supporters,” they are doing something good. The opposite is true. By besmirching such people, they might actually be lying about and destroying them, something that more appropriately deserves the description of “evil.”
The problem with their method is that not all “dictator’s supporters” are trolls. In fact, a great majority of them are real people. Thus, the “opposition” ends up libeling real people.
Another mistake is to equate the supporters to the dictators themselves. Meaning, if the dictators are suspected of or even known to have killed people, supporters are called murderers themselves. That is false equivalence. One is only a murderer if they do the act.
The reason why Duterte or Marcos, or even other dictators (such as Syria’s Assad), have become more popular is not trolls or online propaganda. They are popular because there are real people who approve of them, who share their ideas by word of mouth. Old people who believe they experienced easier lives in older days will associate that ease with the leader of the time, as is the case with Marcos. Tell them anything like they have Stockholm Syndrome, Dunning-Kruger effect or similar, they’ll rebuff you and call you the troll. And at times, they may be right in the latter.
The “opposition’s” method of demonizing anyone who supports the “dictators,” as well as lumping other people who disagree with them into this group, earned them the scorn of the people. It also means they are trigger happy; they just attack and attack, doing opposition for its own sake. But if that’s all they do, and you don’t see them really helping people, they are indeed trolls. Seeing them getting attacked by the people they attacked first is just receiving their just desserts.
As much as you want to “rebuke” supporters of dictators, rebuking isn’t a good way to approach them. Perhaps there is a gentler way of rebuke, but calling them trolls certainly isn’t going to work. The effect is that it will embolden them to support their dictator further, because they see attacks on who they support as malicious against society as a whole (contributing to the antifragility of the one they support).
What opposition should do is focus on improving the lives of people, including the lives of “dictators’ supporters.” In doing so, they prove their sincerity if they claim to be “for the people,” and are offering a real alternative. If they leave out the “dictators’ supporters,” then it proves that they do not really care about people and are not the “good guys.” They are politically colored and vindictive, and care about their political dominance more than anything. This is demonstrated by the recent turnaround of communist leader Renato Reyes, who after years of being Anti-VFA suddenly supports it simply because the guy he “opposes” has become anti-VFA.
One other problem with the “opposition” is that they focus on personalities and not ideas, showing their intellectual bankruptcy. They are focused on the “evil personality” of Duterte, but good and evil are not dependent on personality. As if the personalities they support are not “evil” themselves.
Also, people don’t really care who help them. They care about receiving help, whoever it is. They are people with needs and if they perceived that “dictators” provide for their needs, they will hang on (case in point: the number of people who flocked to the funeral of the slain “Jaguar” drug lord). And yet another thing: remember that “dictator’s supporters” don’t see the one they support as a dictator.
The “opposition” has a lot to change if they want to regain their ground in the arena. But it may also mean completely changing the foundation of their stance – which is likely wanting to oust “dictators” and changing the ousted with their own. If they don’t, they might permanently get the image of “enemy” – and deserve it.
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