Most Americans like to think of themselves as ideologically-free and treat “ideology” as a dirty word that they would never apply to themselves. But the fact that there are polarities in the country over this and that issue is the strongest indication that we live and breathe ideologies. There is a silent civil war going on – one that is fought in the realm of ideas and belief systems. It is a war where both sides hold on dearly to their biases as if their lives depended on it. We see this all over the place, from pro-Trump vs. anti-Trump, Republican vs. Democrat, socialist vs. capitalist – the list goes on. Listen in as Bill Stierle and Tom make the case for why we should learn how to live with these polarities and engage in healthy dialogue so that we can move together as a nation without the risk of descending into an actual civil war.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
America’s Silent Civil War: Our War Of Ideologies And Its Cost To Truth
There seems to be a lot of struggles going on in people’s minds and also in their rhetoric, what people are saying in our government. I also think among our citizens that feel like there are these very polar opposite struggles and people use inflammatory words like, “Are we going to end up in a civil war?” It sounds like there’s that kind of struggle that might boil over into civil wars. Maybe even within the Republican party, there is a civil war going on.
As close as this communication show gets to talking about how language is being used by both parties and each individual inside each party. The messaging and the way communication is translated because as we hear words and concepts, it’s playing off of our own words, beliefs and understandings of vocabulary. This is why a very simple message will translate whereas complex messages won’t translate. Even if the complex message is better than the simple message, the simple message translates and sticks better than the complex message does. Even though the complex message would serve both parties, it doesn’t stick. It bounces off the brain of the listener.
A lot of times in the past we’ve talked about things like $0.25 words, $0.05 words, $0.10 words, $3 words, $5 words and things like that. It’s because the word won’t stick. If I say the word propaganda, it doesn’t stick because a person doesn’t have enough practice at using this is a person using an adversarial message in order to meet the needs for themselves at the expense of the other person. The hard part about it is it’s getting used to that. Our language and understanding of language fails us a little bit. One of those words in our list is the word ideology. That’s one of the words in the list and it is very much a $2 and $0.25 word at least.
It is a sophisticated word. That’s maybe how I would label it, but let’s define that for our readers though. I think that’s important.When somebody is upset, telling them the facts will not change their mind. Click To Tweet
I appreciate that because as it being a set of beliefs or philosophies attributed to one person or a group of people. Here is this one person with a belief or a philosophy, then there is a group of people with a belief and a philosophy. They are following an ideology or a belief structure. To put this in a religious context, if we worship the golden calf, that is idolizing or we believe in it because the calf of gold is going to make it work for us. It sits into a pagan belief structure of calves. It gets a little weird because it’s like, “Bill, don’t certain religions worship cows?”
The answer is that’s a belief and philosophy that’s attributed to the individuals or the group of people in that religion following that belief structure. I’m not going to sit here to poke a stick at which belief is right or wrong, good or bad. Because the person is under the American mindset of the constitution, you get to worship whatever you like. The constitution doesn’t say, “Except when it’s at the expense of another person.” That’s where our law says, “You can do freedom of speech, but not in a theater and not yelling the word fire.”
It’s a classic example of free speech that is being made at the expense of others.
It’s at the expense of others because if you yelled fire and there is not one, then there’s a problem. Even if there is one, there’s a problem because people will trample each other to get out. Meanwhile, an orderly exiting of the theater would be fine to avoid the danger with fire. We don’t want to promote our belief if it’s at the expense of others. As soon as it crosses that line that it’s at the expense of others. Most certainly, if it’s at the expense of another person’s life, that’s a problem, or at the expense of another person’s physical wellbeing, that’s a problem. It gets wiggly when I said this thing and I didn’t hurt the person physically, but I hurt the person psychologically. Who’s going to weigh in on how the person should take it? That’s where it gets wiggly. The physical part of it is used to be non-negotiable. If you say something and someone else gets physically hurt, you are accountable for inciting that person to do that thing.
Let me try to make a comparison here because it might be helpful. It sounds similar to me where the law that exists where if you don’t commit murder but you are somehow a party to an action where someone is killed by someone else. You can be charged for that murder as well even though you didn’t do it. That is similar to taking action that might seem innocuous on the one hand like in a silo in and of itself. It causes harm to another. You were involved in it. You didn’t stop it. I know it’s not the exact same thing.
It’s the same thing because there are people in jail sitting that planned the murder but did not do the murder. Charles Manson is the first person that comes to my mind. He did all the planning and got everybody all motivated to do it. His family went out and killed some people. That was horrific. Why is that not the same? It’s not the same in the horrificness of the way it showed up at that time in the world. In the same way, if we are a nation of laws, then the things that were said on January 6 at the rally outside of those, it fits into that category of you said something not to foster a peaceful transition but to cause a physical and violent action.
That’s exactly the word at the tip of my brain. It was the same as you. It was action. It motivated people to take action. Once they are all hyped up and they get down there, and they’re at the bicycle rack type barricade at first because there was no big fence that day. The police were on the other side of it. They are rowdy, angry and riled up. The police were trying to keep them back. They felt, “We need to push back on the police. We’re trying to get into the Capitol.” It makes perfect sense that the words that were spoken at that rally as well as a lot of words spoken in the weeks and couple of months leading up to that rally.
That one is very upsetting because that’s called seeding a belief or an ideology to move the person’s belief and philosophy to be more in agreement. You’re not pulling the trigger but you’re buying the gun, putting the bullets in. You’re setting and putting the person in the place when the thing can take place. If you want to have your rally, you don’t have it the day of, you have it the day before. They had it the day of. If you want it, have it the day before. If you want to be heard about election fraud and you want your people to still stay loyal, have your thing the day before. Do not have it the day of. If you have it the day of, you don’t know what they’re going to do with that message.
It was very intentional to have it because that’s the day that the certification of the electoral votes was happening. I don’t know what the people want but it was clear from what the President had said among others. They wanted Mike Pence not to certify those votes. They wanted the people’s voice to be heard to influence our elected officials.
The thing is that there would be no impeachment trial if it was the day before. There would not be an impeachment trial because that would be a party in complaint, in a situation to be protesting something they didn’t like that they believed that was true. With that truth, they are being in the discussion of how to find the truth and not looking at facts. As you and I were talking about, facts don’t matter when it comes to emotion and empathy. Somebody is upset. Telling them the fact will not help them.
Do I personally understand and believe that certainly from experience? I’m able to empathize with those people in my mind and have compassion for them because I firmly understand many of those people believed or still believed the election was stolen. Because President Donald Trump was saying to them all year long leading up to the election, “If I lose, then we’ll know the election was rigged. If I lose, it could only happen if there was a fraud, if it was rigged.” He teed the ball up for people. As soon as Joe Biden was declared the winner, all these people were like, “There it is. This election was stolen from us.” To them, that was a marker that said, “We’re losing our country.”
That was also another thing that was seeded along the way. They took all the talking points intently in the last few months but more in 2020. Even if you go back a few years ago, that took one of the talking points there and said, “We’re going to have a rally,” and put all the talking points together, “Rudy Giuliani, you take this talking point. Donald Trump, Jr., you take this talking point.” Each one of them reinforce the talking point, the belief and the philosophy of Donald Trump and the people that are following and voting for him. It’s causing not only the concept of civil war but it’s a language war between truth and non-truth. Is this a Democratic message or is this a Republican message? It’s setting up the polarity and the news media makes out great because viewership will stay high. You get the news media there. If you’re not working as a government, you’re not working on the issue, you’re working on the imprint. You’re not trying to write policy as a government, you’re trying to manage communications.
Here’s the unsettling thing. There are some senators and congressmen that have taken half of their staff that used to work on policy, and they moved them all over to work on communications. They are not even working on policy. They are working on, “How do I manage the message from this office to get me reelected? How am I managing the communication?” For those who are reading, Tom’s got this exasperated, aggravated hand on the head, hand on the mouth experience of going like, “We can’t keep going down the path of not working on policy.”
To me, it’s troubling on two different levels. The most important level is they are not working on policy. That’s the other level to me, but the reality is these people are working on communication and these elected representatives are still doing a crappy job of communication. It’s like you put more people on it, but they’re still not doing a good job. That’s easy for you and me to say because we have a higher-level understanding of communication. Clearly, the rally on January 6th, you mentioned Donald Trump, Jr., Rudy Giuliani, all these different people speaking. Donald Trump speaks as well. This fire was started when each of them speaks. It’s like they are fanning the flames. They are giving it more oxygen and everybody’s getting more heated, upset and angry. The President says, “We’re going to walk down that street to the Capitol and I’m going to be with you.”
If you would have been with them and if he would have gone there, then he is that next level a part of the insurrection.
He would have been directly involved. He wouldn’t even have been charged with inciting it. He would have been charged as an insurrectionist.People don’t hold themselves accountable to the definition of 'hypocrisy' when it comes to their team. Click To Tweet
Now all of a sudden, he’s one thing removed back. It’s like somebody selling you something, and then the thing that they sold you was terrible. They promised that they were going to be there, but then they weren’t. At the end and it’s like, “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be there. I’m not going to fix that thing.” The thing is that people can say whatever they like. The responsibility and accountability that the person says are one of the things that the rule of law tries to deal with. What’s the cost of that thing? What is the punishment for that thing? Our country would rather throw somebody in jail over stealing a candy bar on a third strikes felony charge than to have somebody in Wall Street who steals millions of dollars from multiple people because it’s obscure.
Remember when we talked about that poor family in Phoenix, Arizona and the daughter was suspected of taking a $1 item from a dollar store. Do you remember that, a little dollar or something, and then the police respond? I don’t mean to get us off on that tangent, but fast forward a little bit and stay with our civil war theme here. The result of what happened on January 6th and the stand that representatives in Congress made that wee hours of the morning to speak out in favor of voting to certify the electoral vote. Beyond that fast forward to the impeachment vote in the house where Liz Cheney and ten other Republicans voted to impeach President Trump for inciting that insurrection. In the days since then, there is some serious infighting and struggle within the Republican party of those historic Republicans and the newer wave of Trump Republicans, if you want to call them that. They are struggling for party control.
That starts us down the polarities. The polarities are one ideology versus another ideology. The different forms of how does economics work, political theory and policy, all of those things, those ideology pieces come down to, are you going to vote for the group that is following the QAnon group? Are you going to follow the traditional conservative Republicans? Are you going to follow the person that is the Trump person based on, “I believe in President Trump’s philosophies,” which he has many of them that he spreads out over the field of time and doesn’t follow through or deliver those things? You’re idolizing and following an idolatry of an audio log. How many times can I put the damn thing together that way? That’s where that whole family of words sits.
This is what we set up in the beginning. These are different ideologies within different groups of the Republican caucus or the Republican-labeled representatives in our House of Representatives and our Senate, our government in total. Certainly, that’s what’s got the most focus is on the House and the Senate, especially the House with these votes stripping Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments because of some of the ideology she espouses.
There are certain individuals in both parties that are willing to say, “Yes, that person said something, we’re going to give them a pass.” One party is a little bit better about, “That person said something or did something, they’ve got to go.” Democrats are a little bit better of getting rid of or saying, “Sorry, you have this picture and I know that you were in the past. I know it was your committee. We don’t want to hear that we don’t take care of our own.” On the other side, they’re not taking care of their own. They’re not holding to the ideological standard of conservative. They’re holding to an ideological standard and whatever belief that we can put in front of somebody that they’ll vote for. That’s the standard. We’re then back to Newt Gingrich saying that, “It doesn’t matter what the person’s truth is just so they vote for you. It doesn’t matter what their value is. It’s, did you get them to vote for you?”
This is very troubling. It’s clear that there are at least two different standards going on. The Republican party having a much more lax standard because they’re doing what is politically convenient for them to try to hang on to power. Honestly, at this point, it may not even be hanging out to power as much as it is wanting to win or not lose. I’m thinking back to the contributor on CNN Van Jones. He served in the Obama administration and was fired about a year and a half. What he was doing was important for the nation and what he was doing within the administration. He in a fit of frustration called some Republican person an asshole, and there were a couple of other minor reasons. The biggest reason he was fired from the White House because he did that. Can you imagine that standard being upheld now? There’s no way that someone like Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t get expelled from the House of Representatives for the things that she’s espousing in her ideology.
I hear you have the thought that no way, but there are a lot of people that voted for her and you’re going for the vote and you’re not going to take away the person’s vote. The thing is that you’re not fighting for America anymore. You’re fighting for a voting position to get your agenda to move forward at all costs. It’s like a football game that is out of hand where one team is completely penalized for breaking one rule. The other team gets to do with the other rule and gets the mistake. It’s like, “That’s okay. They need help.” That narrative of separation and the $0.75 word or it’s more like $2.50 is the word hypocrisy. The word hypocrisy doesn’t translate to the masses.
They don’t seem to care.
It’s worse than that. They don’t understand or apply the definition and hold themselves accountable to that definition because it’s my team. It’s my ideology. I voted for this. I have my self-worth here. I have my identity over here. I have the hat and the t-shirt. I’ve already bought in here. I can’t call myself being a hypocrite because they can’t even see it in real-time. It’s their team, their ideology, and the thing they’re idolizing. It says like wait a minute, we don’t do idols. America is not supposed to do that. We’re not doing that. We have it written in the separation of church and state. We don’t want those two things together. We don’t want this to be ideological. Other countries that have religion and the state together have all kinds of problems regarding equality, inclusion, cooperation, collaboration, respect, mutual respect. It gets messy quickly because they’re not looking at the human condition on a field of time and, can we get our needs met here? They’re not even on that ballpark.
It seems so sad how low the bar has come. Can you imagine even in Paul Ryan’s House of Representatives would he give cover to the kinds of things that this representative from Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, is saying? I don’t think he would. There was a time when the party would have shunned someone, at least censored them formally in a vote to be able to hold some moral high ground and say, “This is not what the Republican party stands for.”
They did it with Steve King in Iowa, but they’re not doing it now. They’ve crossed that line. They’re not doing that now because otherwise, this gal has presented herself as a perfect lightning rod for them to turn the corner and they’re not.
That’s the shocking and disheartening part.
They are looking at the 73 million votes and they’re thinking, “We won’t be back in power forever.”
What they’re saying is we’re going to allow this speech to happen at the expense of other things because they are fearful of upsetting that voter that they believe Donald Trump still has tremendous influence over and he probably does.
What winds up happening is speech over speech. It’s going to be a polarity speech Democrat versus Republican, Wall Street versus Main Street, urban America versus rural America, rich America versus poor America. One religious group pitted against another religious group or a non-religious group, immigrants versus fourth-generation immigrants. Not against natives, the natives are their group of polarity. “All of you guys are immigrants. Get off our land,” is what a native American would say. Capitalism versus socialism, there are problems with both systems.
That’s why we have both. We have some of our things that are socialist and some of the things that we do are capitalist. We’d got to have both. If we have a healthy relationship with both, it goes better. If you don’t have a healthy relationship with both, then one side starts to gobble up the other side. Socialism can gobble up capitalism. Take a look at the problems in Russia. That’s a great example. You don’t want that. You want the balance of those things. Taxes as something I’m proud to pay because it supports the collective good.
That’s not the mindset of most people in the United States.
That is not the mindset they’re having. I want to be in a tax bracket that’s high enough so I can hire the person, so you don’t have to pay taxes because I don’t believe in the socialist elements of our country. I don’t want to pay for roads. I don’t want to pay for the police. I don’t want to pay for firemen because it rains in Alabama and I don’t want to pay for California’s fires. I don’t want to do that because there’s no fire here. They’re not doing the greater good.
If we didn’t do that, then every time there’s a hurricane in Florida or Louisiana or whatever, the rest of the country say, “Sorry, pump out your own basement or rebuild your house.”
We’re not going to act as a collective. We’re not supporting you, even though you’re part of the United States. I know that you’ve got a representative. Your representative doesn’t fight hard enough and they don’t have enough power, so we’re not going to do anything. That’s what winds up happening. You can create an entire political career on polarities. There’s no doubt that there are many representatives that stayed in that 6, 12, 18, 30 years. I’m thinking of Strom Thurmond and some of these other folks that stayed in it. They kept getting voted in by their constituents because they had had enough messaging there, and there are enough generations that go, “I believe in that thing. I’m not voting in a different direction.”
If you think about it, especially as Americans and trying to work as a collective. When Mitch McConnell was in charge of the Senate, we have a person from the State of Kentucky with that belief and the ideology leading the nation and preventing the decision-making process to take place, even the discussion to take place. His ideology and the ideology he was fighting to hold on to is one that he values for the nation instead of the nation is moving, the world is moving. We’re not competitive in multiple areas, and you’re saying no to a discussion and a vote.
It’s unsettling and it’s nonpartisan to even talk about it that way. That’s the strategy of a win-lose ideology, a polarity view of situations and circumstances about, how do you get growth and prosperity to take place in Kentucky? How about growth and prosperity? What are you doing for your entrepreneurs in Kentucky? We’re not doing anything. What are you doing? We’re not fostering it. What is happening to our entrepreneurs? They’re moving to Silicon Valley. They’re now in California. How’s that helping Kentucky’s economy? Not too much.
This is a worldwide problem too. People want to come to America because there are more freedoms here than in their country. Their talent gets pulled and comes in our direction, but not if they’re not welcomed on our shore, it won’t be. They’ll find another country that’s more friendly. We’ve got some big challenges and it’s going to be interesting as we move forward. I feel curious about, how do you think this ideological civil war is going to turn out? It has turned physical in some instances. What do you think is going to play? It’s unsettling.We have to live and deal with our polarities as a nation. We can’t let it get to an actual civil war. Click To Tweet
I’m not sure how it’s going to play out. I don’t know that it helps to try to predict it. I do have great concerns, but here’s what I’m seeing. There are not a lot of things I hope for, especially in business but in life. I always say hope is not a strategy. If we’re going to wait and hope for things to happen, good luck. I’m more of a belief in taking action and trying to make things happen. I’ve been with an awful lot of people in the last few days that have very different ideologies and beliefs than I do. I heard them talking a lot about things that they think are ridiculous or that they’re not happy with.
What I’ve found is if I let that roll off my back like water on a duck’s back, just let it roll off. When we talk about the values and the things we all care about, there’s an awful lot more we all agree on than disagree on. My hope is that the temperature is lowering. Although I know news and things happening in our government is not helping that. The impeachment trial is not helping that, I completely agree there. The temperature seems to be lowering and I hope it continues to, and then we all can focus on health, safety, employment, education, other values that people care about. When we talk about values and prosperity and some of these things, there is a lot more we agree on. That doesn’t leave as much oxygen in the room for the polarity speech. That’s what I’m hoping.
The polarity speech, there needs to be a new language to address it. One of the common values that we could start moving into if anyone had the courage is what fairness would look like. What does fairness look like? Child development-wise, it’s a pretty young need to get the need for fairness met. Does it meet the need for fairness? What does fairness look like between Wall Street and Main Street? The two of those two things are not connected. Those economies have grown to a place where they are separate from each other. That is not a healthy capitalism strategy because then you got a bunch of gamblers over here watching numbers, and winning and losing money on a daily basis.
All the people that have wealth are in that space. Most of the people that are not in that space, they’re slugging it out in Main Street. The nurturing of Main Street economy is the thing that’s going to bring it back. The stuff that happens with hedge funds and things like that doesn’t dominate the news space. It’s like, “Look at those gamblers.” It’s like going to Vegas and somebody pulled the slot machine because they happened to be at the right place at the right time. They we’re smart enough to get a group of people to come in because that’s the way a casino gets busted. You get a person to let you know how this might work. You take twenty people agreeing to play one slot machine until it pays off. Every one of those twenty people gets paid. That’s unsettling but that’s the way it works.
It’s analogous to what was happening with that Robinhood trading app with GameStop. That’s very interesting.
Is that how you get back at capitalism? I don’t know. That’s a socialist strategy to bust a casino. You got a group of twenty people, they take their money, divide it up and they play one slot machine. When that slot machine plays off, all of them divide the money. That’s a socialist strategy. My request is we think about how to and keep imagining what it would be like to talk directly at the polarities with a value. You talk directly at the polarity. What does the need for spirituality look like in religion? What’s a common thread of that?
There are several of them, turn the other cheek, eye for an eye. Both of those things can live together but people have them as the opposite. They’re common. I’m looking forward to seeing if you can imagine what it’ll be like when we can get a healthy dialogue about how to speak towards polarities. We’ve got to be healthy in how we speak towards it because otherwise, this style of civil war will not take us very long because we got to live with each other in this nation. That’s where we got to stick the landing is that we got to live with each other.
We can’t let it get to actual civil war.
We can’t let that narrative escalate inside people.
Bill, I think that’s a great place to leave it. Thank you so much.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Purchasing Truth Community today: