Developers of the Optimus Logistics Project in Perris and World Logistics Center in Moreno Valley have both consulted the same playbook and are using the same strategy, tactics, and language to convince residents of their respective cities that warehouse and distribution center jobs equate to progress. They have both created “citizen” groups to carry their message of progress and reform. And they have both been aggressively marketing those messages to the real citizens of the respective cities.
If these projects really equal “progress” then why is there a need for so much trickery? Why create such a ruse to convince the citizenry? If we don’t agree that more distribution centers are the best use of the land in our communities, then why are we “anti-progress bullies”? Why do city council members who ask questions and make demands on developers on behalf of their constituents need to be replaced? Why are these same developers investing more money in those campaigns than all other campaign contributors combined?
The REAL citizens of these two cities must decode the campaign language that these fake citizen organizations are espousing, especially the trope of “progress” they seem so fond of using in their rhetoric, as if there is only one option…one direction…one choice…and all other options don’t exist. In the world of politics, the term is “progressive rhetoric.” The fake citizen groups use the rhetoric of revolution – dissatisfaction, discontent, and anger against a narrative of dreams, change, progress and improvement. In truth, the real motive is personal economic gain for those developing the projects.
If these campaigns are really “by the people & for the people” as one website touts, then why have they been created by developers and paid for by developers? If the citizens of these cities really want to “stand-up for progress” they must ensure that they are the authors of their own narrative. “Demand is the driving force for when and what gets developed,” the Optimus developers explain on the project website. “The demand for logistics distribution centers has never been stronger.” The demands and conditions of the market are not so much about progress as they are about economics. And as we have learned in the past, especially what we learned in 2008, those economics often benefit the wealthy few at the expense of the masses of middle and working class families.
In analyzing political campaign rhetoric I once read that “citizens can better cope with persuaders of any kind by recognizing the predictable benefit-promising behavior of persuaders.” It is wise to focus not only on what is being said and how they are saying it, but WHO is actually doing the talking. Our communities must decide what we want for ourselves as well as future generations. We must decide what progress means to us.