Just six days into the new year, the entire United States was rocked when a huge mob stormed Capitol Hill to stop the certification of presidential votes. When we follow the breadcrumbs left by this disastrous event, we may discover them leading to President Trump and his allies, all calling on people to resort to violence. However, some of his most loyal followers are rather literal in determining and searching for the truth, and therefore dismiss the conclusion that Trump and his associates hold any responsibility. Bill Stierle and Tom discuss how a more in-depth analysis of evidence is needed to fully understand the vehement attack on one of the nation’s most important government institutions and how this event may result in a huge division within the Republican Party and the country as a whole.
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Following The Breadcrumbs That Lead To The Capitol Hill Storm
Bill, it’s interesting to see how a lot of people are talking about the events on January 6, 2021, of the mob storming the Capitol. I’ve been quite surprised at what some people are saying. How about you?
I am too. The first thing in communication is, what do you call them? What is the name? What is the label? What is the label that’s going to stick? What is the label that’s going to be accurate? How can that label then get established? Once that label is established, there is a counter label to who this group of people is. From a communication standpoint, there’s going to be eventually a continual trickling of calling them loyalists, patriots, impassioned, voters, truth seekers. Notice how quickly I started calling them things and I moved them into a positive category called truth seekers. They’re not true seekers, but they’re believing that I am looking to, “My leader told me that my vote didn’t count or was stolen or there were ballots.”
That leader has been doing it for years. He doesn’t apologize until the very end, until there’s as much as many eyeballs moving in his direction that he can get. That’s what an advanced marketer, brander, and salesperson do. “I am going to create as much takeaway as possible until I get as many people as I can following me. I’m going to keep after a consistent narrative.” It’s not a wrong thing for somebody to fight for something but when it’s at the expense of the nation, of the system, of the individual that’s voting for them, then that’s a little problematic. Now all of a sudden, you can’t play the game if you rip the game board up and thrown all the cards that you need to play the game on the ground.
That’s a little bit of the perspective I’d like people to get as we talk about this thing called Purchasing Truth and the Literalist. When somebody is taking things literally about things, it’s easy to see them language-wise, to get them to go in the direction that you would like them to. Even if it doesn’t make any logical sense, even if it’s at their own expense. That is unsettling that a person votes in a way that costs them something. They’re voting against their own interest. This is what the literalist mindset does, it says, “My people are right. They won’t do anything against me. It’s against those other people. It’s not against me.”Advance marketers and branders create as many takeaways as possible to get many people to follow them. Click To Tweet
There are many things that aren’t getting their attention that they are not voting in their own interests. I had this realization and what brought it into my consciousness is a Facebook post from the wife of a lifelong friend of mine. We’ve been friends for many years. I was surprised to see this post. I didn’t comment on it. I stayed way away from it because I was not going to cause trouble for my friend and mix it up with her. I’ve seen this as a theme with a lot of similar minded people.
I want to preface this by saying she is not a hardcore Donald Trump supporter. This is not someone that is spewing a lot of the rhetoric and trying to purchase truth herself but from others. She said something that surprised me. I’m paraphrasing here. She said, “Can somebody please point out to me some source information? Show me a Tweet or a video somewhere where the president incited violence? I am willing to believe he did, but I’m looking for the evidence. Can somebody please show it to me because I’m not seeing it so far?” What she’s looking for is literal evidence. This is the day after the mob storm the Capitol.
She is looking for direct evidence, the most obvious of smoking guns, where the president told these people, “Go storm the Capitol, break into the building, and arrest the vice president, the leaders of Congress and take your country back.” That’s what she’s looking for. My jaw was dropping like, “What? Do you want that? Otherwise, you’re not going to believe the president incited violence and everything he’s said over a long period of time didn’t rattle them up?” I was like, “She doesn’t see that the Earth is round because she is on the ground and it looks flat to her.”
If you look at one sentence as an isolated or if you’re looking for one piece of evidence, it’s like there was a crime that was committed in the house and you come into the kitchen. “I’m looking in this kitchen for where the crime is, where the piece of evidence is.” Meanwhile, there are breadcrumbs from room to room that you’re not looking at which is leading to where the crime was. It’s like, “There’s nothing in this kitchen.” Yet the person got more murdered outside, but there were all of these crumbs that you needed to see to follow in the house, out the back door in order to get there. That’s the way it was.
The believer was led in that direction because this is the way their world works. This is the way the world looks to them and should look. One of the biggest challenges of having President Donald Trump’s narrative, the different senators and congressmen weighing in, and then Fox News weighing in, those are all, “This is the way the world works, this is the way the world should look and this is what you should do to make the world look the way we would like you to look, to make it look.” People are sensitive to the language.
They listen and then they react not from their need, but from how their emotion gets activated by their belief. I’ve had many client sessions, many training, Zoom virtual training which is a part of my business model now. “Group of executives, this is how we need to talk about this. This is what we need to do to step into it. This is the way the world looks, this is the way the world works, and this is the way the world should work.” They’re breadcrumbing their way through that experience. They’re following their bread and they’re not questioning because if they did, they would have to adjust their belief.
It may seem obvious to us that there were breadcrumbs that were leading Donald Trump followers, or even they could not even have to be Donald Trump followers, average citizens to start to see things in a certain way, or to get to the point where they’re like, “What are you talking about? The President didn’t say that he wanted people to commit acts of violence on the government.” They’re looking for that direct quote, but they don’t realize the timeline of this. The President has been planting seeds for this for a long time. There are several different timelines you can look at. I’ve seen some that go all the way back to 2015 when candidate Donald Trump then announces that he’s running for president.People are sensitive to language. They listen not from their need, but from how their emotion gets activated by their belief. Click To Tweet
Even if you look at 2020, and you look within the lens of Tweets, speeches, and video statements, put out over 2020, you’ll see that he’s been laying the groundwork for this. To the point where he didn’t have to light a literal match to a fuse in Washington on January 6, 2021, in order for a bomb to go off. That fuse has been slowly burning for a long time. All he’s got to do is blow a little air on that fuse and get it to catch more fire. He doesn’t have to make the literal order or appeal. He didn’t have to literally say, “Go fight for me.” If people are interested, “Where are the bread crumbs? Where’s the evidence? Show me the evidence.” The title of this article is Incitement Timeline: Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol. It’s on a site called JustSecurity.org. It does lay it out, all the different samples, not just by Donald Trump, but his closest supporters, allies, and friends in government.
They appreciate that timeline because that is going to capture a thing called messaging boost. It’s, “I gave a message and all these other people are boosting the message.” When a message is boosted, it’s gently getting the elephant brain, the long-term memory to believe, water the seed, weed seed, inside the person’s brain to believe that there’s something going on. A person trying to do the people’s work, that’s what they call the work for senators and congressmen. “This is their work. They’re working for the people.”
You might not like that. You might not like that your city or area or state voted for somebody that you don’t agree with, but it doesn’t mean you get to go in there and say, “It’s not my beliefs. Everybody knows that my beliefs are right and your beliefs are wrong.” You’ve got to fight, convince, and have people stand for your ideas, not use force or violence to say, “My way is right. Your way is not.” That’s part of the magic of the constitution and the ability to express yourself. We want to lead ourselves. We fought Tyranny of the King and the Nobles of England. We want to have Kings and Nobles now again that we advocate too, that we worshiped? I don’t think so.
It’s something else that came to mind to me about this and about not only the statements that ratchet up the rhetoric and lead people to turn to violence. There are plenty of them. There’s another side to this too though because it’s not all done by the President. All these statements were not by him. That’s by his allies, his surrogates, and other people that are supporters of his. I’ll give a couple of examples. If you go back to December 1, 2020, Lin Wood on Parler says, “Our country is headed to civil war. President Donald Trump must follow the President, Abraham Lincoln and declare Martial Law.”
All these things were happening. December 6, 2020, armed protesters are at the home of Michigan, Secretary of State threatening violence after the results of the election in Michigan. The official Twitter account of the Arizona GOP on December 8, 2020, talks about in response to stop the steal Tweet saying, “I’m willing to give my life for this fight. He is. Are you?” The GOP account also Tweets a clip of the 2008 movie Rambo as the character proclaims, “This is what we do, who we are, live for nothing or die for something.”
Lin Wood on December 9, 2020, says, “I believe there will be violence in our streets soon.” You’ve got all this ratcheting up of talk of violence, “Stop the steal. You have to be willing to fight for what you want.” The President fans, some of these flames in what he says, but what occurs to me here is that a lot of people might say, “The President didn’t say to do that, that’s Lin Wood and the Arizona GOP, and that’s other people.” In a literal sense, that’s true. We’re talking about this as Purchasing Truth and the Literalist. What is also, I believe disheartening, and it’s worse than that. Negligent is that the President did not come out and denounce the statements.When anybody's trying to brand, market, or sell something, they're trying to cultivate a place in the listener's brain. Click To Tweet
He did not say, “Please do not resort to violence. Please only protest peacefully.” What we saw that was dramatic on December 1, 2020. Gabriel Sterling is a civil servant in the State of Georgia. He’s a Republican election official. He’s Republican, but he’s an official in Georgia. He implored Donald Trump and this is his quote, “Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get shot. Someone is going to get killed and it’s not right.” That’s December 1, 2020, more than a month before the Capitol riot. The President, with what he said and what he did not say, did incite violence and leading up on January 6, 2021, that in the speech he is saying, “We’re going to march down to the Capitol and I’m going to be with you.” He doesn’t say, “Break down the doors,” but he said, “You’ve got to show strength in order to take your country back. You have to be strong.” What did he expect these people to do at that point?
“I’m not responsible for those people. They’re responsible for themselves. They should know better not to break the law. They’re breaking the law based on this cause. They’re fighting and they’re passionate people.” Notice I jumped over to the rational place that I’m going to rationalize the behavior to communication-wise minimalize the experience of this ramp-up. Those things were to get, “My people are passionate and I want to speak to their passion.” That’s what is happening. You’re engaging the dopamine for loyalty and literal followership. You’re enticing and cultivating. The word cult is for cultivating a mindset. I’m bringing a cult mindset too and it’s a language piece. When anybody is trying to brand, market or sell something, they’re trying to cultivate a place in the listener’s brain.
Try to get Coca-Cola and Pepsi out of your brain. You can’t. Two brands are burned in your brain. You know what it is, you know what the drink is, whether you drink it or not, or buy it or not. You might be past the point where you drink it or buy it anymore, but the thing is that the branders and marketers have been burning it into the brain. That’s the whole thing. Even look at our own Purchasing Truth branding piece and things like that. It’s a burn brain thing. It’s like, “I remember how good that thing was and how there were colors and there’s a USA thing. The intro sounded like this and the outro sounds like this.” That’s all about how communication and messaging is. Are you going to do that to mutually meet the needs of your listener? Are you doing it at the listener’s expense?
That’s where the rabbit is, is that when somebody is looking for eyeballs, they’re not interested in whether or not it’s at the expense of the listener. They are not interested in, is their message at the expense of truth? They don’t care at the expense of truth. Newt Gingrich said this many times, “I’m not responsible to correct the fallacy that is in the voter’s brain. My job is to get them to vote for me. I’m going to say anything I’m going to say, even it’s not truthful.” He didn’t put all these words in. I’m now adding the last verse. “I’m responsible to get their vote. I am not responsible to broke facts and truth with them.” That’s not a public servant. That’s a party loyalist.
That’s what I was thinking as you’re making that statement of what Newt Gingrich said. I’m thinking, “Is it your job to get them to vote for you? I thought it was your job to represent the people in their interests? Clearly, that’s more of a self-interest statement.”
I am not interested in a person that’s an advocate against abortion to go through the problems, that the truth about what it’s like to have an abortion or many things illegal, and the wreckage that causes. I’m not going to fix that. They’re advocating that they don’t want abortion to take place in the United States or what money pays. Not only that, they don’t want anybody to have it at all. They want to take the rights away from another person, or they don’t want to make that a right, because it’s morally wrong. Now it’s legally wrong or right. “I want to change the laws so that my moral belief.” Who wants to be in the middle of that decision? That’s a hard decision.
It’s challenging when we take a look at the literalist because they aren’t moving in until they get the empathy and the compassion that they need. They haven’t been heard about how painful it is to deal with the duality of what they’re experiencing. Here’s a great example about my cousin. There is a duality that comes in. Are you going to pick the duality of, let’s say, a Bible passage where there’s an eye for an eye over here, and there’s turning the other cheek over here? Old Testament, New Testament. “Eye for an eye or turn the other cheek.” Which one do you pick?When somebody is just looking for eyeballs, they're not interested in whether or not it's at the listener's expense. Click To Tweet
Do you pick compassion, empathy, and care for another person or do you pick fairness, justice, integrity, and equanimity? I put the values underneath each one because if you read it literally, it will mess you up. If you read it, “Which one are you going to pick, justice, fairness, and integrity with my belief?” Then you’re going, “Eye for an eye all day.” It’s like, “I’m going to stump on your neck and make you believe what I believe. It’s fair and this is my version of fairness.”
Turn the other cheek, be compassionate, caring, collaborative, cooperative, and work with different people with different points of view. That’s the other side offense. I want all of our readers to notice, that’s literally what is happening with the Republicans. “We incited this. It’s not fair that the elections are this way but we need to work together now that we’ve got this whole fairness thing out of our system,” and now it’s like, “Quit getting people to yank between the two different things.” It is very painful for us as a nation.
What it’s doing is creating a different kind of team loyalty. Are you on the team of fairness or are you on the team of, “We’ve got to work together if we’re going to achieve anything?” People having to choose a camp. This is what I’ve been telling some people that I talk with, “I think we’re going to end up with a fractured Republican Party. We’re going to end up with the Republican Party and the Donald Trump party going forward here.”
If Donald Trump is still exerting influence on a large number of voters in this country after the inauguration going forward, you’re going to have different factions of the Republican Party. One led by maybe, Ben Sasse, and maybe the Mitt Romney’s of the world and other people that have accepted the truth of the election and those that have not because they’re signed up with Donald Trump and what he says. I may be wrong, but we’ll see what happens. I feel like in 2022 or 2024, we may end up seeing a situation more as we did in 1992 with Ross Perot in a new party.
I’m not trying to put Ross Perot in the same camp as Donald Trump. I want to make that very clear. They’re different, but in terms of different beliefs and a party that’s not united, we’re going to see that again. Before, when you were talking about, they’re justifying and rationalizing, “Where is the evidence now? Where are the statements from the President that said to go and do this?” They’re looking for it. They’re looking for the facts, which is funny, but though, it seems to me that this is selective rationalization.
It does our beliefs narrowest. That’s selective rationalization. We do get pinned here. Our brain and our thinking get pinned and it’s hard to spend an entire life studying an entire world with all the different belief structures that people live by and then pick the best. We don’t tend to do that. What we tend to do is hold onto the beliefs that we develop and the beliefs that we decide, and then don’t move off of them too much. We can be hijacked in our truth that can be purchased by a skilled narrator that is pulling us from one direction to the next, like this incitement that took place over the last few years. It’s sad and disheartened because all you’ve got to do is get a person that’s entitled.
That entitled person is fed messages to reinforce that entitlement, and then they can put their foot up on the desk of Nancy Pelosi because, “This is my desk. I’m entitled to this. I’m an American, just like she’s an American.” All of a sudden, there’s this flattening out of, “I don’t have to work for things. I am entitled to things as an America and I’m entitled to free speech. I’m entitled to come into the White House, the Capitol Building at any time I want.” Try doing that in the White House. Are you going to call that you and say, “No. I’m going to break off the visitor. I’m going to go my own way here. I want to explore the White House because it’s mine?”
It’s like, “No, that’s not it because there are things that you’ve not had been elected or haven’t worked or studied for to be in charge of because you don’t know this place and what to do in here.” That’s the hard part of that. You and I can do an episode and what I call the reverse entitlement that has taken place. A reverse entitlement is, “I am thinking I am entitled to things that are beyond the scope.” It’s all because they’ve got this other thing, fairness. I get this thing fairness and it’s very much a 9 to the 12-year-old version of fairness, which is a form of entitlement.
I’m interested to have that discussion. There’s a lot to be explored there on Purchasing Truth and Reverse Entitlement. Let’s do that next time. That sounds great.
More to come, Tom. Thanks.
- Incitement Timeline: Year of Trump’s Actions Leading to the Attack on the Capitol – article
- Arizona GOP – Tweet on Twitter
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