Only a few weeks are left in the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections. As the rivalry between parties and candidates intensifies, so does the disinformation from the Republicans. Bill Stierle and Tom try to wrap their minds around the staggering volume of twisted information out there to see how truth is being purchased. From Donald Trump’s sowing of doubt and skepticism over the voting process to meet his own need for support, his continued underplaying of the impact of COVID-19, Republican efforts to revive the smear campaign against Hillary Clinton, to conspiracy theories around the attempted kidnapping of Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer. There is so much to unpack in this discussion. Brace yourself and join in.
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The Truth Behind Republican Disinformation
In the run up to the election, we’re now at the point where there are not months left, there are weeks left. There seems to be so much disinformation flying around. The volume of disinformation is getting higher and higher. There are many things to talk about around this and try to see how truth is getting purchased. The first one that’s shocking and it’s in the news is that the State of California has discovered that the California GOP, the California Republican Party has set up and installed their own unofficial ballot drop boxes. If you look at the images, it’s a pretty official looking drop box if you didn’t know what an official State of California drop box for ballots looked like. You might think, “This looks safe and secure. I’ll put my drop box there.”
The California Republican Party has taken upon themselves to put up these unofficial drop boxes at locations they deemed safe like churches and other locations. They’re collecting illegally people’s ballots. The state attorney general said these are unauthorized. They’re unlawful and ordered the Republican Party to remove them. Thus far, the California Republican Party has refused. They’re not willing to remove the unofficial drop boxes.
There are a lot of details about this that we don’t need to discuss and debate, but to me, the scary part of how this is purchasing truth is here. You have the President of the United States who’s been sewing doubt and skepticism around the ballots saying that if he loses, there was fraud in the system. The mail-in ballots are a disaster and people should vote in person. The Republican Party and the President know because it’s been proven time and time again that mail-in voting is safe but the Republican Party is trying to prove that there’s a problem with ballots by tampering with them.
This is very difficult. There’s a lot to unpack in this. In a live conversation, I wouldn’t have let you talk as much to set it up. In other words, if I’m going to use empathy and compassion right away, but for our reader, we needed to give them time to slow down and you giving us full of like, “Bill, here’s some construct. Here the foundation to stand on.” It helps us with the feeling of shock as we’re trying to get our need for understanding or clarity amount. What did they do? A lot of times our body is feeling doubtful about the need for truth not being met and we’re fighting that. I know when you initially told me the story, I was going like, “What?” Doubt skepticism showed up in my body, which takes my logical brain offline a little bit and say, “What is the real impact of this?”
All my problem-solving brain goes and says, “Isn’t there somebody that’s going to arrest these people for doing this unlawful thing?” It’s exasperating and another thing in our saturated information society that you can get one of that takes place and then you can make it global. The President did that during the debate. He said, “There’s this thing that happened in Pennsylvania. There’s this thing that happened over here in this Creek about ballots.” They happen to be Donald Trump’s ballots. He’s sowing the feeling of doubt and skepticism to meet and support his own need, to stay connected in the position of being reelected. “I want to stay in the position. I don’t want to go anywhere. This is a great job. I get all of these different things that I get being the president. I’ll do this job for four years. All I’ve got to do is tweet every night and watch the bugs scurry under my feet.”
It’s unsettling because when the need for truth and trust are run over and people start having two things that happen, they don’t go fully to the medical system. They don’t extend trust to the post office. They don’t trust the government fully anymore as if that hasn’t been chiseled away. A budge, law enforcement gets to have doubt and skepticism about it. That’s the need for militias and people have their own guns. It’s sewing a narrative that’s not a stable narrative. In the need for stability, we get scared, nervous and anxious. You and I were talking about that a little bit before we got on, nervous and anxious for the next three weeks, the need for stability and for trust not being met.Truth can be easily purchased once you know what somebody’s biases are. Click To Tweet
We don’t have much certainty about how peaceful or violent it’s going to be, what the transition is going to be like? We used to be able to call votes and get a sense of the idea within 24 or 48 hours after the election. Once you put doubt and skepticism into the system, what happens is we’ve got to make sure we’re counting every vote. That’s what we did last time. If you’re getting it within the margin of error, if you’re getting into the space of this state is going for because of early voting, it’s going to be difficult. Now we have to wait for all of the precincts to come in, but there are not enough people in that area. I’m ranting a little bit here because you can see how confusing it gets down the mental rabbit hole when doubt and skepticism get introduced with the information piece.
As we set up the top disinformation, the California Republican Party is trying to say, “These ballot drop boxes are very safe. It’s no different than you handing your ballot to somebody or a friend that you trust to take it in. Isn’t it more safe to put it into our drop box than to hand it to a stranger that you don’t know?” I thought that was such a false equivalence, because nobody is going to give their ballot to a stranger they don’t know and trust to take it in for them.
The validation of what Donald Trump has said, “This is my party. I’m going to be loyal. This is my identity. This is my guy. I’m going to support him. He is telling me this one thing. I am following this thing. I’m going to believe it to be true.” It’s unsettling because truth can be easily purchased once you know what somebody’s bias is. If you have their bias and their belief structure, you know what it is, what I’ll do is to tap it a couple of times and their brain is right there with you. It’s like, “If I would have done this, my wife wouldn’t have left. If I would have done this, my husband would be nicer to my kids. I must be the person that’s the problem.” We tell ourselves disinformation to create doubt and skepticism inside ourself, to validate a bad thing. We’ll make up an entire story against that. It’s hard.
This is not the only disinformation running around in the final weeks. Although this is a shocking one. I don’t know why this is happening now because sometimes the administration forgets that Hillary Clinton isn’t running for office again, but that Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, is now set to release a lot of Hillary Clinton’s emails. I’m like, “Why?” I don’t understand what that’s doing except being a distraction again or trying to throw more disinformation out there. The government did report an exhaustive study that they found that she did not intentionally disclose classified information and that was the end of it. They’re saying, “We don’t want that to be the end of it. We’d like people to still be unhappy with Hillary Clinton so we’re going to release her emails.”
The need for trust in public officials is where the damage is. You don’t trust these Democrats. I’m trying to get them all in the same bucket. Hillary Clinton is the biggest bucket I can use. It’s the only one I’ve got. They can’t go back to bill because there’s not enough traction there. They’ve got to go to, “Here’s where Hillary Clinton was and what she said and did in order to make her life wonderful by using emails in the way she did.” Why? It was easy to do her emails at home and she didn’t do the things that needed to be done to be compliant. It doesn’t matter a negative story so much time somebody throws a bunch of mud on you.
You’re trying so hard to clean the mud off and it is hard because the mud is already stuck to you. The person says, “There’s mud there. You still haven’t got that mud off of there. There’s mud on that shirt. Look at the mud on the shirt.” You’re going to like, “I washed it. The mud is off the shirt. I thought I cleared this up.” “No. We saw you when the mud was on the shirt.” That’s the thing that’s unsettling. There’s got to be a perspective that is put on these things because otherwise people stop trusting and stop leaning on truth, the way they’re doing it and they do things like take justice into their own hands because they can’t trust the government.
They can’t trust law enforcement so they say, “I’m a militia group. I believe this one thing and 20 or 30 of my other friends do believe the same thing. Our truth and our justice are good enough because the truth and the justice aren’t working, because I have the level of disinformation to take place.” Those are the buttons that get pushed and the doubt and skepticism show up, then they feel helpless and powerless about dealing with their own emotions. They don’t know how to process their own emotions and stuff. That makes it hard.
We saw that show up as well, with the conspiracy and attempted kidnapping of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and that’s another one that’s concerning. The incident itself is shocking and there are many things around it that are shocking. I’m happy that the FBI was all over this and knew it was happening. They had an informant and they were able to stop it before anybody got hurt. That’s the most important thing there but then to see how the President talked about Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the whole situation. Also, the way I’m seeing people that are in alignment with Donald Trump on social media trying to say that several of the people involved, of the thirteen people that were arrested or whatever were Joe Biden supporters and not Donald Trump supporters. All of the disinformation going around that is scary.
I felt confused about the situation, “Is this person responsible for this?” I heard this other counter thing and it validates my current belief bias in place. Those militia are feeling helpless about truth and trust because they’re not getting the truth and the trust from their guy. The movement back towards the center like, “You can run with your party and stay out there, but you better pivot back to do the center to run the rest of the country.” There is no pivoting back from not just the Donald Trump narrative, but the Republican narrative has been pulled over to the other side away from tolerance, acceptance and having a civil discussion about a different idea than I have than the other person has.
How do we approach that in an empathetic and compassionate way? The persons had pain because they’ve been worked up and they allowed themselves to get worked up and say, “That person is saying that because it’s a political thing.” Nope. It’s, “I better do something. I’m seventeen years old. I have my gun and I’m going to go to Wisconsin because those police officers need my help.” The mom is like, “I’ll be glad to drive you up there.” This is what the validation of what Donald Trump is saying when it sticks and it hits the person’s mind and they’re going like, “This was outside your training, approval, narrative. This is outside of what you should be doing in a civil society, not carrying your rifle up to Wisconsin to do that.” It’s unsettling. Disinformation is difficult because your brain has to fight all these different micro moments of information and you think you’re promoting truth, but not as much.
Think about the counter information that has been put in the medical field, trust us or don’t trust us? Which one are we going to do, trust you or don’t trust you? Trust yourself. No. That’s a bias. You trust what you can count. They might be measuring the wrong thing. Again, I introduced doubt and skepticism. It’s like, “They’re measuring the wrong thing?” They’re not counting this thing that happened way over here in this corner. They’re not counting it because it’s not statistically relevant. It might’ve worked over there for that one thing because that person had different genetics than this person did. Most of the time people die from this.The Republican narrative has been pulled so much over to the other side of tolerance and civil discussion. Click To Tweet
There’s a lot of that going. Take the President back out on the campaign trail, his doctor says it’s okay for him to do it. Apparently, he had a negative COVID test now. He put out this video saying he was cured, that there is a cure for this now. That’s a dangerous word that was used to purchasing truth. There are many problems with that because nobody else in the United States can get the level of care the President did with an experimental therapeutic drug, which is helpful. I’ll give you that. There’s hope for the future of treating this virus, but nobody else can get that treatment. There’s a lot of doubt and skepticism being thrown around the number of people that have died.
A lot of conservatives tend to say, “The number is inflated. There haven’t been 200,000 people that died because a lot of people died of heart attacks or they died of diabetes or something else. It wasn’t COVID.” There’s been a lot more in studies that have come out to suggest the number is probably even higher than they’ve reported. It’s more like 250,000. I’m not getting into the details of the data right now, but there’s definitely some evidence on the other side. Here’s the thing that’s scary that no matter whether you trust the death numbers as being from COVID or not, or you trust the number of people that have been tested to be infected, there’s cause to have doubt and skepticism as to where there all those numbers are.
There’s nothing wrong with the emotion of doubt and skepticism. It’s winning to being used to purchase truth away from what we need to focus on, which is the primary target of consideration and health for other fellow Americans. The number is 1 in 16 Americans are going to pass from this thing or have passed from this thing. The number is way too darn big to go, “When is it it’s going to get one-in-one? What are we going for here?” We’re going to see how many people have this experience of COVID and the long-term health problems that it causes. That’s not a good thing.
It’s not, and what we’re seeing now happening as we are in the last few weeks before the election, is that the number of cases in the United States, the daily cases identified are going up. You can doubt and challenge that number, but here’s the one thing that is hard to challenge. I was reading that the number of people being admitted to the hospital is going up fast. That is not something that is easy to doubt. The stress on the medical system, the number of people in the hospital, that’s not fuzzy math. That’s a reality. The hospitals are filling up with people that need critical care in order to survive this virus. It’s hard to fudge those numbers. You either have people in the hospital or you don’t.
There are 30,000 people in hospitals throughout the nation that has COVID. That’s close to capacity because we are not built for crisis.
Where they’re seeing it going up a lot is of the more rural, middle America states that don’t have the hospital capacity. They don’t have as many ICU beds and it’s getting to be a serious problem. I’m waiting for it to be Florida again because this is interesting. The Florida governor opened up the entire state. He said, “There are no more restrictions. You don’t have to wear masks anywhere. Restaurants can be fully open, have people indoors.” Here’s the one that surprised me. He said, “To our three NFL teams, go ahead and fill your stadiums. Sell all those tickets to your football games. There’s no reason not to do that.” The NFL is putting a different standard and saying, “We’re not ready to do that. We’re not going to be filling our stadiums to capacity.” The NFL controls its own body of teams and it’s not just a state thing. I am waiting for the Florida numbers to go up.
There’s a wonderful data thing from the researcher Steve McConnell.
Not to be confused with Mitch McConnell. I want to make sure we’re clear for our readers. He’s a different person.
Steve, the researcher, does a data from state-to-state. If you want to download the state, he has a nice, simple scale from 1 to 10. One means the state is having a severe infection problem and death problem. The scale is from 1 to 10. If it has a ten, it’s off. There’s only one state that has a nine, and there are sixteen states that have a one that are in the worst case based on the data. You have to click around to the data thing to find your state. California on a scale of 1 to 10 is a five, Florida is a three. They said, “We’re going to open back up.” Arkansas is one and then a lot of the red states now, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, they’re all pulling terrible numbers. North Dakota, North Carolina is the two, they’re pulling terrible numbers. Tennessee is a one, like I said, South Dakota.
Is the lower number worse in this scenario?
Yeah. They’re all ones. They’re all top of the list. They are number one. They are in the list. Maine is the lowest with a nine. There’s only 1 other 8 in the list too, I think or maybe it’s seven. New York is a seven and that’s the next closest. Jersey is six. A few sixes, but not much and a few more fives, but most of the people are 1, 2 and 3 in the virus. We’re not getting out of this until there are 500,000 people dead by March or April of 2021.The stress on the medical system is not fuzzy math; it’s a reality. Click To Tweet
If it takes that long, honestly.
The prediction right now is close to 400,000 by February 2021. At least, by my simple estimation, it will be at 500,000 by May or June 2021 easy. The mask wearing works. I’m repeating it because a scientist repeated. It’s like, “The numbers go down.” California went from 1 worse to 5. We’re in the middle now. Some parts of the state are going, “Let’s see if we can at least relax a little bit.” People are relaxing and getting out a little bit. It’s a big thing. The place to land here with our truth in disinformation and people looks at the researcher that does the work. Look at the scientist that spent twenty years studying that and could they be wrong or could they have a small variation not true because they discovered something new? That’s the way science works is you have a truth.
We’ve got to then say, “This is what we know at this time.” What we knew at one time is Christopher Columbus was this Italian person that came across the ocean and discovered America, where it was named after a different guy. It’s still a head shaker what people believe is true. Christopher Columbus was not a nice guy and now we’re changes day to indigenous cultures day. We’re making a change because you discover things and that’s what the adult mind does is say, “Change can take place.” We can do a change thing.
Did you see though how the President was doubling down on Columbus? He’s creating this culture of not wanting to rewrite our history and he was elevating Christopher Columbus in many ways, trying to reinforce original political beliefs and myths about him instead of accepting that, “We can learn more about somebody and that our culture changes.” We can realize, “Maybe he wasn’t a great guy and can rewrite our history and change it to Indigenous People’s Day.” He’s trying to recreate his 1950s version of America that he wants it to be.
It’s unsettling when a belief bias gets put into place that way. More to come on this, Tom. I appreciate us going down this rabbit hole. We need to take a look at information and we do need to double-check things as we put things up and it can make a big difference.
Thanks for your help, Bill. I appreciate it.
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