Are we going through a national breakup? Whether you look at it as a nation being torn apart between Republicans and Democrats, or as a nation struggling to break away from the president that it placed in power, there are so many parallels between what is happening in the country right now and what happens in a marriage that is already on the rocks. Bill Stierle and Tom trade their insights about these parallels and discuss how the way things are going is going to affect Donald Trump’s bid for reelection. The upcoming elections are going to be a defining moment in American history. Will the people carry on in this toxic relationship with Trump or will they finally go through a divorce and pick the pieces up without him? If they do so, will it be for the better? Listen in and find out.
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Is The Trump Era Over? The Truth About Having A National Breakup
Bill, I think our nation is struggling. I know I’m struggling with everything happening in our national discourse and the daily events. We think the campaign, anything new going on. It occurs to me that we’ve had an October surprise that we wondered what would happen. The president got Coronavirus on October 1, 2020, so we can call it an October surprise. The whole world’s talking about that and we don’t need to rehash what everybody’s already hearing in the media, but it has brought some things into focus about what we’re going through here as a nation.
It’s like when you wanted the best out of a relationship and the relationship is not working anymore and you can’t listen to one more truth not being told and to a half statement like, “We first diagnosed it 72 hours ago.” “That’s Wednesday.” “It’s not 72 hours.” We can’t keep a relationship when you have given the person consideration and have it extended and give him another chance like, “My partner isn’t going to scream like that all the time, are they?” It just keeps getting worse. There is a little bit of a national breakup. It is the truth about a national breakup. It is what this day is about. We’re breaking up.
It feels like that. When you think about it, instead of pitting Republicans against Democrats, I know on its face, that’s what it appears to be. In many ways, in reality, there’s truth to that, but it’s more about the American people. If you think about the American people as being married to Donald Trump, and we are because he’s the president of all of us, whether we like it or not. This nation is struggling. A big part of us wants to believe in him and the relationship is healthy. There’s another big part of us that is exhausted, exacerbated, and needing to escape. This is the struggle. Bill, I think you have some ways that we can look at this. If you look at some of the factors of marriage and divorce in terms of how people think and react, you’re going to see a lot of parallels between what we’re going through now.
I’m glad you’re bringing up that piece regarding why marriages succeed and fail. It’s about what are the things, the attitudes and the language that is used because as a communication show, this is not a Democrat-Republican thing. This is a divorced straight out of a relationship between this voter that voted for this guy, Donald Trump, to come in and do the things he said he was going to do. Now, they’re stuck in a marriage they don’t know how to get out of, because they don’t want to go with mom. They don’t want to go with Nancy Pelosi. They don’t want to go with the Democratic Party. That’s too much because there was a lot of pain with mom. Mom should have stood up to the dad. Mom should’ve never left dad. Mom should have done this and this and then dad wouldn’t have been so angry. It’s mom’s fault that dad left.
When you think about it, if mom and dad had a healthy relationship and they worked together for the good of the children, us, the people, do you think that we would be having such an angry discourse and wanting to move away from him? There’s a big part of the nation that seems a growing part of the people that want to get away from Donald Trump. Even if you seriously dislike him or fundamentally are opposed to much that he does, if we had a healthier relationship, if we were less divided as a people, if the parents were working together for the good of the people to protect and help the people through this tough time, there would be much more support for keeping the family together.
There are some junky things that the president did that the other side didn’t like, but it was enough that we can still stay in the marriage and we’re going to give him four more years. That’s not what’s showing up now. What’s showing up is a group of angry children going like, “We’re pretty angry. Mom, you need to leave this guy.” I know that your oldest son is going to hate you for it because he is invested in the relationship with dad, “Mom, don’t make dad go.” The answer is, “Dad’s got to go because we can’t live in a nation or have leadership that doesn’t do honesty even about their own health and wellness.” The level of denial that has taken place regarding the virus has been as bad as the virus itself. It’s not as worse as death, but it’s pretty close to how truth and trust of one under the bus a little bit here and are struggling on life support because they’re potentially in a fatal accident about truth, trust, and respect.
Mom is at the point where she’s like, “I got to protect my children from this.” When you think about what happened with the October surprise, Donald Trump getting the virus, go into Walter Reed Hospital, his behavior while he’s there and getting back to the White House, he is doubling down on minimizing the threat of the virus. If you’re a mother needing to protect your children and the father is being abusive in some way, at some point, you’ve got to protect the children, even though maybe the one person or one or more children, the oldest son doesn’t want to leave.
He is loyal to dad because dad used to take him fishing once a year. Dad used to show up and bring presents. There was a lot of excitement about dad coming back. I loved my dad. My dad was a force of will. He had to go out and be out there in the environment and stuff. It’s tough. Donald Trump tried to demonstrate that he’s a force of will that he can be strong enough to overcome the virus and get back to work. Those images and optics that he’s creating are one that is looking to demonstrate strength, but meanwhile, what happens is the family members have had it. You would like to feel compassion but you’re not even giving us any room feeling compassionate for it. It’s a difficult thing that we’re all going through.
Let’s talk about the communication qualities that are going on. I think this is going to sound familiar to our readers, a marriage that is on the rocks.
These are four things that a marriage on the rocks has that you’re going to hear. Number one, messaging about criticism. There’s going to be a criticism of the media and the Democrats. The doctors are put in the defensive place as well as anybody that goes out to the news media to talk. They’re going to have the position of being defensive. The doctor said, “It is 72 hours.” “No, it’s not 72 hours.” “Did he have oxygen?” “No. He never had oxygen. He had oxygen yesterday, but not today.” The question to him was, “Was he ever on oxygen?” All the doctors said, “Yes for about three hours. He needed some oxygen. The protocol is to put him on oxygen. He seemed to respond well and it got his breath back.” All he’s got to do is do honesty.
The president doesn’t want to mention that he was on oxygen and the answer was, “Yes, that’s what people do when they get sick.” The doctor is trying to say, “Keep the positive spin open. Keep the positive and being motive by oxygen.” It’s a great defensiveness but look what shows up next is number three in the list, contempt. I’m having contempt for the doctor and the patient for President Donald Trump. I’m having contempt for them and the people have been cultivating contempt at such a rate that we don’t want to listen to them. There are people that got a third away through the debate and go, “The energy and the vibration of these are too much. I got a tap out.”
That’s a great point, Bill. I know we have more of the qualities of marriage situation to go through, but you’re right. They get to the point where they need to tap out because they are emotionally exhausted and cannot take the abuse anymore.
Language could be used and falls into that abuse category. People start withdrawing or start stonewalling. That’s the fourth element of the four horsemen of a marriage apocalypses criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and this stonewalling or withdraw tactic that takes place. The president has been using stonewalling from the beginning. He’s been using defensiveness, criticism from the beginning and now it is forced contempt to show up in a large population of the people. He and others have had contempt towards the Democrats from time to time. You would have seen messages like that. That is, “We have the moral superiority over those other people.” The phrase is called owning the libs. We’ll get into contempt on another episode, but contempt as a definition, which is unsettling is it’s broken into two parts.
The last part tempt is to despise or to cut. The first part is con is expressing intensive force to despise or cut. I am going to look down upon you because clearly, the Democrats are in the wrong here. If Donald Trump would have not got out of that hospital, there would have been conspiracy theories of the liberal doctors that choose not to save his life or any other conspiracy shows up. I’m almost glad he came out. If he gets sick again, it’s like, “He’s the one who came out of the hospital and then he’s got to go back in?” It has a strong possibility because if anybody saw him do the salute, he was mustering any form of last energy. He had to climb up the stairs to the balcony. That poor man was struggling.If you're not working and speaking for all the people in an inclusive way, you are an authoritarian. Click To Tweet
He’s got a strong will, you got to give him that.
He’s got a point of view and he’s running it. It’s hard to say if he’s met his match here.
The thing that’s clear is he’s been downplaying the virus so much for months and he can’t change course now. That’s clear. He has no choice but to continue to downplay it despite 210,000 people have died. If he changed course, it would be an admission that he was wrong about what’s become the defining issue of his presidency. The Coronavirus is going to forever define him. That’s why he’s continuing to put out these messages. He put out the video saying, “Don’t let the Coronavirus dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it. Don’t let it take over your lives.” That’s a surprising message, especially coming from somebody that gets a standard of medical care far above anything. Us, the regular people out here in the country can ever get experimental drugs and allowed him to make that journey back to the White House and climb those stairs and have those optics.
Here’s the interesting contrast with this that I think it’s maybe a good time to bring in the contrast of messaging from the White House and the campaign, which is disarray with the October surprise. They’re struggling with how to message it. It’s not been coordinated and clean, even their press secretary Kayleigh McEnany got COVID, and she is not going to be out there bringing the messages. Meanwhile, all this is going on at Walter Reed and all the drama, the press conferences and the doctors.
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden, Democratic presidential nominee held a town hall in Miami, Florida, where he gave detailed answers to questions about police reform, more money, banning chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and socialism. He’s saying, “I’ve taken on Castro’s of the world. I didn’t cozy up to them.” Projecting this and trying to address people’s fears and criticism that Joe Biden presidency somehow brings us more towards socialism. About the mask mandate, he was upfront. People are worried electing Joe Biden means he’s going to have a national mask mandate. Even if he did, he talked about how that would only be effective on federal property, but he would call on governors to do the same and reopen schools with more PPE, small classes, better ventilation. I’m not trying to give a stump speech for Joe Biden.
The point here is what observers noted with this town hall is a stark contrast to the messaging from the father that were maybe considering leaving here, as the people and getting divorced from and that Joe Biden was expressing. What people observed is that it was a treat, a real change of pace to see both a normal conversation about issues and to hear detailed informed answers. The Joe Biden campaign, Joe Biden’s decided to do something here, which is pretty smart from a communication perspective in the last weeks of this campaign. He is going to stay in touch with voters. He already began on Monday, October 5th, a daily newsletter called Notes from Joe, whereas Donald Trump is a frantic and frequent Twitter. Joe Biden is going to what appears to be a calming force trying to unite and bring people together and communicate messages in a more civil, thoughtful, detailed, informed way that is what people are hoping. The children, the people of the United States were hoping this is what the first debate was going to be like, was a civil discourse and exchange of ideas and positions when it became nothing of the sort. It was a bully fight, screaming and yelling match.
The divorcing of the relationship between the Donald Trump voter and the leader, they’re left with having to deal with the voices of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and withdraw that have been left over by the messaging. It’s like pausing a divorce. Many people experience 1 to 3 years of detox and it’s upsetting to think that the first year of the next term is either going to be this detox experience that Joe Biden is going to be dealing with or where the voters are going to rise up and say, “We want more of Donald Trump because he’s this strong authoritarian person.” I know that if I drop the label of authoritarian, people would say, “No, he’s not authoritarian.” The answer is, “If you’re not working and speaking for all the people in a way that is inclusive, that’s what authoritarians do.” That’s what a person causes to separate different people in the nation so he can manage his leadership in a distinct style.
Leaders don’t get everything they want, but it’s how they approach or how they unite the people that can make the difference in whether their leadership is going to have lasting respect or lasting experience of this president. We’ll see what history does because there’s the history that happened and then there are people that have to spend time trying to rewrite history even as it’s happening. In communication, it’s always about the messaging that sticks, it’s not about the messaging that’s true.
After Donald Trump is no longer the occupant of the White House, assuming he lives for a period of years after he’s out, he’s still going to be that marketer and brander that get messages to stick. It’d be interesting to see how that shapes history from a post rationalized place.
Also, who covers it. The biggest thing that Barack Obama did over the 1st to 3rd year out was not to sway in on anything. I can’t even imagine even the first day after the inaugural he’s going to say, “That inaugural wasn’t as good as my inaugural.”
You can have as many people attending it if it didn’t have the ratings. Can you imagine he’s still going to be the moth that can’t stay away from the light?
When the voices of criticism, defensiveness, contempt and withdraw get a hold of us, you can’t stay away from it because it’s always this, yeah-but energy because the horsemen all fight between themselves and never fight about the issue. The thing that I’d like the readers to take away is that criticism, when it starts fighting, contempt. When defensiveness starts fighting, withdraw. When they start fighting each other, the issue is never discussed. The horsemen started fighting with each other. You should have done this. That’s not true. I didn’t even have a subject and I started fighting. “You shouldn’t have done this,” criticism. “That’s not true,” defensiveness. Tom, my body’s adrenaline starts going up. Meanwhile, we’re not even talking about a topic. We just put one of the horseman’s phrases into the show the conflicts going up without even having a subject to talk about.
Isn’t it interesting the analogy of the people potentially being in a marriage with the president and struggling with whether to stay or leave this president in the divorce type of situation? When you look at it that way, all of a sudden, all these people that are critical of, “Why Joe Biden? Is he the best that the Democrats can come up with?” I hear this a lot. I had a couple of hour conversation at my home with a family, friend, and acquaintance in my local community who is ideologically different from me. He is much of a Republican. They voted for Donald type thing. We had a civil conversation over a couple of hours and we were able to talk, have a civil discourse and agree on certain things, have a difference of opinion on other things.
It was a healthy discussion and that’s not happening enough because of all of these things, criticism, defensiveness, contempt, withdrawal all these things that get so heated and in discourse in social media, or even in certain conversations. It was refreshing to me to have a conversation like that. What I’m seeing, and this person too was saying, “If it wasn’t Joe Biden, I might feel differently.” I was like, “I took issue with that.” America is feeling abused in general by Donald Trump that I believe it appears that way from the polls that America’s looking for a way out.How a leader unites the people makes the difference in whether their leadership is going to have lasting respect or not. Click To Tweet
If Joe Biden may not be ideal, even for the Democrats, why did he win the nomination? Why did it happen? It’s because he’s an off-ramp in reality. You and I talk about off-ramps a lot. He may not be the best destination long-term. We all want to drive down the road and get to San Diego, somewhere sunny and warm. Maybe in Miami, but you want to come out of the cold harsh winter of things and get into some warmth, light and relief. Joe Biden is not that, but he’s the first exit off of this that people can take. If you’re running from a bad relationship, you’re escaping and finding the divorce, do you care which vehicles can get you there or you just want a way?
You want to be somebody comfortable that we went away out to get there. “This car’s going to work. It’s not the newest, shiniest car. It’s not as flashy as Barack Obama, but this is a good enough car to get us here.”
I know this isn’t the most well thought out or clean metaphor, but the reality is that’s what Joe Biden is. He is the parent in the room that is calming and soothing. Look at what happened at the town hall and the reaction from it in Miami. It was refreshing to have someone talk about us, the people, and our needs and having an adult conversation about issues, maybe we don’t agree on everything. What is he doing that there isn’t enough of?
He’s setting the vision and that’s what his missing. We’ve talked on the show about, “The Democrats have got to stop getting stuck in the mud and set the vision.” Set the vision about where they want to go and make it a need a base vision. Don’t make it a policy-based vision. It’s, “Here’s what fairness looks like with taxes. Here’s what caring for people look like healthcare. Here’s what these different features look like to get the nation to move forward in a positive vision.” This is what we need to rally behind. That’s what setting the vision looks like. You could imagine what it would be like as Joe Biden starts to get his footing and trying to set the vision. It’s like, “Here’s what we’re going for. We’ve been through something as a nation now, and we need the soothing guy to take us there a little bit more. I’m a little bit hesitant and anxious to see how the behaviors of the Republicans are going to be after this.” My belief is they can’t keep doing/burn politics because they went all the way out to the right the way they just did it and there’s no growth out there. There’s no growth to appeal to various fringe groups to get the vote that they need.
Even the staunchest conservatives, do you think any other Republican from a debate stage would not have answered Chris Wallace’s question directly and denounced white supremacy? That would not have done that the way Donald Trump didn’t do it. He didn’t answer the question. In fact, he stoked division at that debate saying, “Stand back and stand by.” I don’t think there’s any other political figure in our federal government on the Republican or Democratic side that would be so brazen and do that. Is anybody other than Donald Trump bold, daring, and reckless enough? I don’t know.
I think a lot of them have taken the hits. A lot of them have tried to step out there into that space. Is it Chris Wallace that did it back in or Barry Goldwater that didn’t back then? The division and the isolation. Both of those people stood out there in that place, but are we dealing with a throwback? The answer is yes, we’re dealing with a throwback. It’s like his dad’s values are inside his son and we get to see what his dad was like as if we would have let the real estate agent developer like that take over and do things. He’s a wrecking ball guy. That’s the thing that’s been difficult here. The next thing that we need to take a look at, as we look at these elements of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and withdraw strategies as a nation who deals with a president who stonewalls on things he doesn’t want to talk about.
These are things that a divorcing parent does and says to their kids. They will say the sentence, “I’ll be there this weekend,” and not show. They will say, “There’s a good reason why I got divorced from your mother,” and make it about them. In contempt, it’s like, “Your mother was in it for the money. Your dad is pompous.” They’ll use sentences of criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and withdraw in the divorce. Tom, we could sit here after the election and watched the tweets and every one of the tweets will be one of these four things. There’ll be a defensive sentence, “Look where America’s going.” What are you doing other than being a divorced parent that’s bitter? You got thrown out and you can’t see your kids because your kids can’t adore you anymore the way you used to like them to adore you. You can’t get out of ration for them because there’s a restraining order for you. The restraining order is the one that Donald Trump doesn’t know that’s coming as much media will apply for the restraining order because they can’t take it anymore. You’re not topical anymore because we don’t have to listen to you because you’re a past president.
He should have taken the off-ramp, but going to work for Fox News and maybe he’s still will.
He’s got to take his next best job. “What does a retired president do?” “I’m a retired president.” Are you going to do the same thing you do with a president? Golf is what you’re going to do. It’s not going to be a surprise. You could see the contempt showing up on both of our voices. We just slipped into it easily. It’s not a liberal thing. This is not a conservative thing. This is a language that triggers other languaging responses because, for me, the need for truth isn’t been met with President Donald Trump. He doesn’t promote respect in the way he communicates with other nations. He promotes strength by having power over language. That’s the form of strength he does, but that’s not long-term strength. It’s only a short-term deal. It’s like, “I bullied the inspector and he gave me permission to use concrete that wasn’t certified.” You won the battle, but you lost the war. That’s the thing to throw our arms around a little bit.
Bill, thank you. I appreciate your perspective and talking about these four qualities because they’re showing up an awful lot. It does make sense that we, the people as a whole are struggling with whether we’re going to stay with this parent or not.
There’s more to come. Thanks a lot, Tom. This has been fun. We’ll get into this more next time and you can imagine looking at the messaging through these four filters it gives us a way to depersonalize it and not make it political. It makes it as this is the strategy of language and this is what it causes. It makes it easier to communicate moving forward.
We’ll keep an eye out, Bill. Thanks.
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