Joe Biden’s announcement that Senator Kamala Harris will be his running mate for the 2020 election has stolen the news cycle for several days, much to the consternation of Donald Trump’s camp. This is not going away any sooner, either, as this candidacy presses on the throbbing sore of racial relations in America. Bill Stierle and Tom discuss how Kamala’s candidacy pits the Trump supporter’s idea of “American identity” with the reality of racial diversity in contemporary America. They also talk about how Biden and Kamala presented themselves during their debut and what they could have done better to deliver their message across more effectively. This is going to be an interesting election year that will once more put into the spotlight the difficult questions that Americans would rather dodge. This debut is a start.
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The Kamala Harris Candidacy And The Truth About American Identity
Bill, we had to shift our planned topics off one episode because there are seismic news and the campaign that is that Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his vice president, his running mate. This is big news. It’s dominating the news. Donald Trump probably doesn’t like that because it stole the news cycle for several days. This thing isn’t going away quickly.
I hear that you say he doesn’t like it, but he likes it because it gives him a way to sharpen the knife or the sword that he’s been sharpening for years, which is us versus them. This proves that Joe Biden is going to change the housing in your area. That’s going to prove that our identity as an America or an American has changed, and I’m with you because your America looks like this thing. It’s a wonderful communication look at bias and what people believe with the identity of what an American is. If you’re a certain Republican, you’re listening to Donald Trump and go, “I want the America that used to be sold to me as a white, suburban landscape where I can have my own house, because that’s what my parents lived in. That’s what’s familiar to me and I don’t have that fully. I can’t afford that fully, but Donald Trump will bring that back. I want that back. That’s what America belongs to be is the way I grew up as a child.” It’s an unsettling communication narrative.
The people that are in realistic America will say, “We’re not that. We’re much more mixed, integrated and inclusive. We spend a lot of years being inclusive and welcoming to other countries and bring us tired, poor and huddled masses and America gives you the opportunity to move.” That’s not as the 1950s American fades into history as if it even existed other than about this interesting 15 to 20-year window tops. This other America has come up from that where his message still appeals to America that he grew up with and many of us, his kids grew up with. I grew up that as like the last of the Baby Boomers. I’m in that spot. The image is different. Kamala Harris as an educated, skilled American, was born here that her parents came here with the aspiration. Think about that. They came with the aspiration of, “Our kids are going to work hard and do something.” Kamala Harris said it in her speech, “My mom said, do something.”
Clearly, she’s done it.
What gets me inspired and moved is that’s the actual sentence my dad used to say to me, “Don’t stand there, do something.” In other words, he’d be starting to work. It’s like, “Figure out how to help me. Don’t do something or watch me do something you get in the game. You figure out how to help or support me to do something.” When she said that, I was like, “She’s got my vote because that’s familiar to me.” It’s so far so good. How are you inspired or moved by either Joe Biden’s narrative or intention about America or Kamala Harris’ intention? What inspires you?
I was inspired by both of their statements’ speeches if you will that this is the first image of them together on the campaign trail. It was a closed event because of COVID, but I thought they both spoke well and their vision for America is the restoration that I’ve been wanting to see. My bias and political leanings are such that I’ve been looking for this relief and escape from the turmoil that we’ve all been suffering in for 3.5-plus years. I was thinking that was well-spoken and well-said. I go into my Facebook feed and I’m friends with all people, not just those who think as I do.
I was shocked to see how much hate, criticism and build these two questions that you’ve posed to us from a Republican perspective, “What is an American?” From a Democrat perspective, “What America do we want to live in going forward?” I couldn’t believe the perspectives, the amount of real hate, bias and even racism that was coming out in a lot of these statements toward Kamala Harris that people are saying, “She’s not black. She’s not African-American.” There are lots of partial truths there, but one thing is for sure like you described she’s firstborn in America, from parents that came here trying to get more for their kids. She’s achieved a heck of a lot and risen to become the vice-presidential nominee for the democratic side. That’s an incredible achievement, but it’s scaring a lot of people at the same time that it is inspiring and exciting to a lot of other people. There are lots of discussions going on about identity.
There’s a lot of pain on the identity because as soon as a politic communication that has a division in it and a division narrative instead of an inclusive narrative, which Donald Trump has driven in and certain news media and networks have made a lot of money on his division. It’s us versus them. As soon as that shows up, then all of a sudden there’s not an acceptance of one side towards the other. You and I can have a wonderful conservative discussion, which would sound like, “Here’s what protection and safety look like for me. Here’s what protection safety looks like to you. Here’s what fiscal responsibility looks like to me and here’s what fiscal responsibility looks like to you. Here’s what progress looks like to me and here’s what progress looks like to you.” That is, are we going to go by the numbers or are we going to figure out how much value this person is bringing? For example, if an engineer gets paid $100,000 or $200,000, depending on where they are in their career a year, is that person bringing value to the economy versus a social worker that you pay $50,000 to $100,000 a year to our nation? The person makes $100,000 to $200,000 or the social worker that’s making $50,000 to $100,000, which ones are bringing more value to the economy?
The one that’s getting paid more because they put more back into it or not? I’m guessing.Kamala Harris’s candidacy inspires a lot of people, but also scares a lot of other people who see her as a threat to “American identity.” Click To Tweet
That’s an interesting thing. If this social worker lifts 50 people out of poverty, the answer is the social worker has more value than the engineer, but that is a perspective discussion that we don’t have time for in our current narrative. It’s, “I see the amount.”
It’s not easy to understand with a simple question because what is the total impact?
That one is a toughie. What winds up happening? If you look at your Facebook feed, you’re going to look at a person that may do a derogatory towards the liberal left, maybe calling them a robotic sheep or something. They’re looking to have a rational discussion, but it’s a perspective discussion that maybe the liberal left is striving for versus a rational discussion. A rational discussion has some limits to it like the engineer has some limits to their ability to contribute to the economy with, “I’m going to call it out by calling a measly $200,000 a year, putting back into the economy.” That $200,000 is measly compared to, “I lifted 50 people out of poverty over the last year.” That revenue is getting people from $15,000 a year or below to $30,000 a year and times that by 50.
The economic impact is significant, I agree.
When we take a look at having a healthy discussion about communication, all of a sudden, I’m listening to Joe Biden or Kamala Harris. I’m going to look for a rational way that I don’t agree with them. I’m going to look for what can I chisel away? Here’s the first chisel I would take, “Were the two of them fighting on a stage together and now they’re in agreement?” That looks like hypocrisy.
It’s the first one they go after. It’s easy to pick up.
Aren’t they hypocrites because they were fighting and now they’re not? If you think about one of the things that Republicans do well is loyalty. We are not going to hide our fighting and disagreements. In fact, we’re not going to show that we do anything wrong. I want to be the party that doesn’t show mistakes. I don’t want to be the party that pretends that they never made a mistake. I want to be with that party because my identity is I’m feeling pretty good about my party.
How is that any different than the differences of opinion between Donald Trump and Little Marco and Lyin’ Ted in the 2016 election? They didn’t all agree either. They were arguing on different sides and now each of those guys, Marco Rubio and, line up with Donald Trump, most of the time and support him even though they had differences like you’re saying Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had during the earlier campaign. These are facts.
They’re loyal. You’re making the point. They’re loyal because they’re voting with him. The thing is that Americans also don’t like conflict in-house. We’ll do conflict by creating a war in a foreign country where we’re killing somebody that is not of our color or a projected belief thing. We don’t want to, especially in our party, look like that we’re at odds with each other. We don’t want the messiness.
That’s my point. They were at odds before Donald Trump was the nominee and became president. The same way that Kamala Harris’ button was at odds during the campaign and now they’re aligned, how has that been any different? I’m a little confused on that one.
You’re going to be confused because when the loyalty war has been won, the disagreement that one has with another person, cannot be amplified. In other words, the bully one and the follower is following the person that is, “I’m going to let my morals and ethics drop off.” Police have similar challenges. I’m not going to argue against my partner because my partner has to support me. If this person’s bad cop, I’m not going to do that in VICE TV did a wonderful job of interviewing the silent police people go like, “You don’t know what it’s like in there.” They all have to depend upon each other loyalty-wise and therefore, they can’t point out those people. There’s no mechanism for that reporting to be safe.
They give each other loyalty at the expense of justice internally.
Justice, integrity, service protection, they’re protecting their own. They’re not protecting the public because they have to protect their own. There is an expense to themselves and their family if I protect others. There’s nobody to hold anybody accountable in that system because this system is protecting itself. The thing that’s exasperating is that if I empathize with the Donald Trump viewer of Kamala Harris it’s, “I’m guessing you’re feeling mad and angry and scared because you don’t like the version of America that she’s talking about. You don’t like women who are being direct. You don’t like it when women speak up and you would like women to stay in their place to be at home.”
I’d love to see how they would have to disagree with you because they don’t want that to be the reason.
They don’t want to be seen as that.
They have to try to come up with other legitimate things that they don’t like. They’re going to walk themselves further out the plank, trying to figure out what that is. At the heart of it, it’s less that than it is. The reality of what type of American she is, not the substance of her character, education and experience, and all that or her decisions.
They’ll click to the next weakest argument. “When she was a prosecutor, she put black people in jail too. It sounds like that you want to make sure that there’s integrity in who she’s prosecuting, is that correct?” “Yes.” “You would like her to not talk about Black Lives Matter and also the rule of law. You want those things to be separate because to you, those look like hypocrisy?” “Yes.” If Black Lives Matter, she’s then going to make these people free. She’s going to hold them accountable for the crime that they did. There’s footage of her doing that going like, “We’re holding you accountable because my parents brought me up to hold people accountable.”
The only problem is our biases are going crazy in America. All of those things we used to be able to push aside, going like, “I can live with that bias. I’m good with that.” It’s like, “No, you can’t.” You can’t live with the bias of saying, “It’s more congruent with our values of respect for every person.” Therefore, we cannot call the Washington Redskins anymore. We can’t do that. We’ve got to change it. They stepped into it and people are pissed because the loyalty towards the Redskin is exasperating. My personal belief structure is going like, “That’s got to go. It’s got to go on the rubble top pile of racism because it’s got to go on the same rubble pile as Confederate generals.” They’ve got to go too. Part of me used to think of being a person that was born in Florida, just saying.We can’t push our biases aside anymore. We need to have a society that's more congruent with our values of respect for every person. Click To Tweet
Isn’t it charming that there is the rebel flag being flown in certain places, but there’s nothing like driving up the Florida Turnpike and going into a restroom and saying, “There’s a men’s restroom over here and there’s a men’s restroom over here, what’s the difference?” The answer was, “Those were the colored restrooms and then these are the white restrooms.” I’ve got to reconcile that in my head going like, “They used to in Florida and they’re still in those places, two kinds of restrooms.” One of them is what used to be for colored and one of them used to be for whites and we don’t do that anymore, but the visual representation is still there.
Bill, how do you think that Republicans saw Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have little debut? How do you think that the people that are not in alignment with their ways of thinking?
“How can I create messages of disrespect? It’s how they saw it. I already didn’t respect the Democrats. I’ve got to figure out a way to disrespect Kamala Harris.” That was evident on Fox News and Tucker Carlson, “I am going to disrespect her by minimizing her. I’m going to call her whatever.” If you look at Facebook, whatever’s turning out, “Here’s hoping we see a huge wave of nasty women at the polls and voting for Kamala Harris.” It’s a meme or a message in going like, “You want to call her that? Do you want to try to disrespect her? You’re disrespecting all women.” That’s a mobilization narrative, going like, “Do you want to try to disrespect us? You have no idea what cat you have by the tail because we’re coming around to scratch you.” There are women going like, “Women are to be seen and not heard just like children.” There’s a group of people that are in that space going like, “This is how I get to treat women, and women better not stand up or you’re going to be called one of those nasty women.” Instead of, “Look at that vocal mother over there.”
“Look at that mom who’s standing up for her children,” or something like that instead of, “No, I know.” The interesting meme I saw that was on account to that had all these women of integrity that Donald Trump has called nasty women on it. They’re in three boxes. In the fourth box was the one that was Jeffrey Epstein’s, who’s been arrested. Her name is Ghislaine Maxwell. Donald Trump’s quote for her was, “I wish her well, frankly.” It’s only women that he doesn’t like who are nasty women and then women, he likes no matter how flawed they are. Is there any message maybe to close the loop on this debut of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden as the Democratic ticket that anything you think they could have said a little better?
I appreciate your question because there are three things that they could have said better. They could have leaned their elbow on what fairness looks like, what equality looks like, what equanimity might play out to be between men and women, where she could have worked on, “This is what the quality of my character looks like. It’s not going to be easy to hear the quality of my character.” I would have loved her to say that, “It’s not going to be easy to hear the quality of my character through the pushback that we’re all going to get.”
That would be almost like Martin Luther King Jr. speaking from the grave. She is that generation that was born during those years when he was having all those speeches and freedom marches. He wishes his children will be judged by the continent or the characters that she could without plagiarizing him, could then take that message.
This is what a quality character looks like. The quality of character looks like me arguing with not agreeing with Joe Biden, arguing with him, giving my point of view about what the best direction is, and being an inspired advocate for women, not a person she could have completely differentiated. Not be a quiet bystander, sitting in a chair and being silent and letting the president speak to engage the public and not having a voice in the background. That would be a better vice president. He or she immediately differentiates with Mike Pence. s
I used to get pissed. Here’s Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the room. Mike Pence was sitting there like a statue and Donald Trump was having a vibrant argument with the two of them. I wanted Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi said, “Mike Pence, what do you think about this? How can we better work together and hang them out on the fence right there?” He couldn’t open his mouth then and if he did, Donald Trump would leer at him and everybody would see it. Loyalty means shutting up and following this person. It does not mean what’s best for America or what collaboration that’s working out would look like because that’s what a democracy is.
Regrettably, they didn’t have the skill of engagement about how to do inclusive dialogue. They’re looking to each one of them and looking to score points and messaging that they needed, which neither a few of them did. They’re trying to argue facts. You can’t argue facts with a marketer and a brander. You can’t say why Tide is better than Cascade. You can’t do that argument in a political setting. It’s like, “No, Tide is better.” “No, Cascade is better because the dishes look like this.” “Tide pods are way better than that.” You don’t want to be in that marketing dialogue. My recommendation is to step back, realize that a part of American politics is now marketing and branding. Pick messages that are going to stick. It will give our readers something to think about moving on. I appreciate this dialogue and it’s helpful to see how this is going to play out communication-wise.
We’re going to be talking a lot about communication messages that stick or don’t. We’re going to talk more about how the facts don’t matter. Somebody like Kamala Harris might generally lean more towards the fact seeing as she’s a former federal prosecutor and facts are where you’d probably run back to more often.
We’ll talk about scaling perspective next time too.
That sounds good, Bill. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Thanks, Tom. Bye.
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