Alicia’s View: We’ve got ‘receipts’ for others’ words; same goes for us

With local elections this year, let’s build strong communities by holding ourselves to account too.

By Alicia Crank / Herald columnist

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”

That sign hangs on my office wall, and in view behind me when I’m participating in an online meeting. Every once in a while, someone will notice it, and it becomes a conversation starter. For me, it serves a couple of different purposes: as a reminder to be willing and able to back up anything I say, and as a measuring stick for relationships I’m building along the way.

I also believe this phrase signifies one of the biggest reasons why there is so much uncivil discourse in society today, politically speaking. Trust, for some, has been hard to come by when we see and hear our elected and community leaders say one thing, but do another. Not that this is a new thing, but it’s bolder these days. Those in power and influence would once shy away from being caught on camera or audio contradicting themselves.

Today, there is barely a batting of an eyelash if caught. Some even lean into it.

There is an inequity in bad behavior in leadership, which also contributes to trust issues. Questionable behavior can get you lambasted in local and social media, or can be virtually ignored, depending on which team or cause you’re root for. If it’s a means to an end to getting what we want, then fine! If it works against what we want, then it’s hell, fire and brimstone.

I submit this is part of the reason why we’ve become a society of “receipt” collectors, to call out and actively prove when someone does the opposite of what they say they will do or believe. Receipts are those screenshots of posts, tweets, emails and other documents collected for future use. I’m sure you’ve seen the occasional “This you?” tweet or post calling out a public set or series of contradictory statements and actions.

Passive receipt collectors grab their opportunities along the way. Aggressive receipt collectors can create a whole campaign by creating fake names and accounts to stalk a person’s or group’s social media accounts. I can never understand how the latter has the time and energy to do this.

In this year’s coming election cycle for city, county and other local offices, how can we work toward civil discourse in the immediate future? Can we hold accountable those who decide to run without devolving into name calling? Will those that decide to run create trust by their words and actions matching or create disillusion when shown that their words and actions don’t match?

In the end, I believe we all want to trust the process, trust our leaders, the media outlets we turn to and trust our own beliefs without contradictions.

This is a very tall order, especially when we must look at ourselves in being the example of what we want to see.

Alicia Crank lives in Edmonds. Email her at

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