Now that the US presidential election is over and Joe Biden finally takes the helm as chief, America shifts into its political detox phase. It may be a time to heal and unite: it is also a time of potential political amnesia. Bill Stierle and Tom discuss how Republicans might resort to simply pretending that the Trump era did not happen at all in an attempt to regain their reputation. They also talk about the implications of the gradual minimization of disinformation as a result of the former president’s indefinite ban from Twitter. Bill shares his experience watching Biden’s inauguration on Fox’s News coverage, noting how Karl Rove chose to focus on just one single statement from the new president’s lengthy address to emphasize the Biden administration’s possible weakness.
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Political Amnesia After The Elections
We are going to talk about something that may not be all that surprising to our readers out there, political detox. That sounds like we need some of that, doesn’t it Bill?
The detoxification of our political narrative, we’ve got to decide if we’re going to get off of it. Get off of the adversarial language towards each other, and it’s going to be hard. In the process of detox and as somebody that has contributed and worked with drug and alcohol rehab settings, and getting people to talk better to themselves, and to help themselves through the detox, there’s always the two pieces in detox. It’s the chemical detox from the substance that the person is taking, but it’s also the language detox or the things that they’re saying about themselves in the world that set up, “I might want to check out by drinking, smoking, or taking this substance.” There’s this relationship.
Even gambling has a detox element to it. There’s no chemical involved from the outside. It’s the experience of being in the casino, the ringing of the bells, the oxygenated rooms, the temperature, the endless drinking and whatever is all about the process of making the environment, one that you cannot leave and not get out of. Can you imagine that a 24-hour casino has no need to have a lock on the door? They don’t lock the doors on a 24/7 casino because why are you locking the door? There’s always someone here. The challenge though is getting the gambler out and getting them away from the environment. That’s the problem with detoxes. You’ve got to not watch the opinion shows because in the opinion shows, the person is already selling you on the point of view.
They’re trying to hit the buttons to get your adrenaline, cortisol, and get you engaged. They’re not interested in your well-being. Once in a while the gambler wins something, but it’s there for the house to win and the building to support their bills. It’s not there for the gambler to hit the winning thing. Tom, you’ve experienced and you’re telling me that you’ve had some things in regards to the detox experience. It’s a little bit of this delusion, or what is it like? You read an article from The Atlantic or something that you‘re sharing with me.
It’s talking about The Coming Republican Amnesia, that’s the title of the article in The Atlantic. They’re talking about how the GOP is going to recover from the Donald Trump era. What they’re saying is they’re going to say, “Pretend it never happened.” They’re going to have amnesia.
“I didn’t drink. I wasn’t at the bar. I wasn’t gambling.”
Another way they framed it that’s amusing is they said, “It’s going to be like that boyfriend you should have never dated. The mistake that shall not be mentioned.” It sounds a little bit Harry Potter to me. It’s like Voldemort, “He who shall not be named.”
It’s because this is a communication show, it’s that Republicans have their people not to talk about. If I want not to talk about somebody, that might be Strom Thurmond from the past or other people that have made and said, “This is my political viewpoint, and I’m going to start a brand–new party called the Dixiecrats. I’m going to head in this direction because there are enough people with me.” They’re not reading the signs of change there. All they’re doing is reconfirming or re–energizing their bias. It’s what Donald Trump did, when you wake up the sleeping bias of racism and entitlement by calling other people entitled, then you get to be entitled. That’s the reinforcing of entitlement that you and I have done a show on. The communication to engage and enroll has went over the line of what is healthy for a functional collaborative union. The United States of America went over the line. It’s very unsettling that we’re saying, “I don’t want to talk about so-and-so because that person did X, Y, Z.”
It’s interesting, Bill, you even saw it and I did a little bit too on Inauguration Day. I not only watched the inauguration, but you took it to another level impressively in my opinion to watch it on Fox News, to see how they were talking about it.
I was so interested in the communication pattern about, how are they going to language this? Is it going to be like that ten-volatility piece or that one peaceful supportive acceptance piece? What are they going to do? How are they going to handle it? Are they going to reinforce the messages that they’ve reinforced in the past? Are they going to look for some new bait to chew on? That’s what winds up happening is we’re looking for an angle that our audience will want us to amplify, to adjust the perception. Our languages are very frail here. As soon as Joe Biden says, “I am going to be the president for all Americans,” that gives Karl Rove a chance to say, “I’m not sure if he can do it for all Americans. I don’t think he’s going to do it for me because he’s going to tax me more. He’s going to take my money and spend it over there.” Immediately, that whole narrative is a twelve-year-old narrative. It’s not fair, and Tom, you and I know this would be true, in collaboration, you don’t get everything you want.
Cooperation, negotiation or compromise, that very nature of that means, “We’re going to see what you want, what I want, and see if we can meet somewhere in the middle. You may not get everything you want. I may not get everything I want, but let’s see what we can agree on.” Sure, but it’s interesting how Karl Rove astutely or maybe I should say intentionally, he picked on the one word, all, that’s an absolute. He picked that off and made a partial truth out of it. It’s probably easy for his viewers or the people watching him that day who are maybe less than big fans of Joe Biden’s to believe for him to be a president for all of America, “Look how many there are.” It’s easy for them to believe, to understand, “How could he possibly be a president for all of us? He can’t make all of us happy.”
The word happy has been one of the most problematic words in our constitution.
The pursuit of happiness?
Thank you very much. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s not that the government is supposed to make me happy. It’s just the government is providing me a safe place to pursue happiness. They flipped it. It has been flipped in a narrative that, “I’m not happy, it’s the government’s fault.” The pursuit of happiness is different than they can deliver The government is not there to make you happy. If it were so and if I am a peace-loving person and think many conflicts that we use military things, I would say, “Our military butts can at least take a 1/3 cut,” but that’s just me being peaceful.You don't get everything you want in collaboration. Click To Tweet
I’m going to say, “I’m not going to pay my taxes because of that.” There are people that think I don’t want to pay my taxes because of this one thing that’s against my value. That’s not what the government’s job is. The government’s job is to provide the foundation and to make some choices through your elected official to make life more wonderful, have more opportunities, foster and fund that entrepreneurial business that employs 25 people in your city. Figure out how to make a Midwestern town unique and special. There’s some rebuilding that needs to be done, as somebody that traveled through Kansas before the pandemic. The reason why is because you’ve got other world forces affecting the agricultural industry, as well as other problems. The pursuit of happiness, the government is not supposed to make us happy.
That makes sense to me that the government is there to provide some guardrails, a structure or some support to keep things from going off the rails. I’m not surprised, but it is a little disheartening to see the narrative on Fox News that Colorado is saying, “He’s not going to be for all the people.” I’m curious if Joe Biden had made more of a statement of fact in his speech and said, “I am the president for all Americans,” and make it a matter of fact, “I am” because that’s hard to dispute. He is the president.
“I am the president of all Americans.”
“I am going to pursue this or strive for this.” Would that have been harder for Karl Rove to pick off?
Yes, he could not pick it off. He says, “I’m striving for this. Some people are not going to like this. That’s fine. I am interested in listening to that through your representatives that we have elected through a fair election, we will restore the process of a democratic process.” He could have gone into the next sentences and I want to put this sentence in his speech easy. It would have sounded like this, “There were 74 million people that didn’t vote for me. I am very clear that those people don’t think that I am a leader for them, that I am an advocate for what they would like. Their values may differ from mine and that’s why they voted for former President Donald Trump. I am here to restore and look to create common ground between our common values and our common needs. That’s what it takes to build unity.”
Now unity has been defined by something. It has been engaged this, instead of a dangling up here, which they pick off very easily, “No, I don’t think he’s into unity. He’s going to cave into the left-wing,” and that’s what happened throughout the inaugural. What winds up happening was that Karl Rove came on, found the weak part of the language, came on another 20 or 40 minutes, “Let’s go back to Karl Rove.” He had another message that reinforced the weakness of that one sentence. He went back the third time, another 20 minutes, 40 minutes later, he comes out, “Let’s go back to Karl Rove.” Karl Rove goes, “This thing, there were 73 million people. I don’t think he could be a president to all those people.”
I’ve gone like, “That was a long way to walk us,” I appreciate the financial security, the money that’s invested in the Republican Party, and the value set that they have at the same time. It’s not to say that Democrats don’t have their version of it because we’re a language show here. They have their ways to say, “I think we need to clean up the homeless by this, this and this,” “How much money do you want to spend on that?” That’s what a Republican would say, “Are you going to spend $3 million on that? I don’t think you want to spend $3 million on that. It doesn’t seem like good money,” but there are other things they considered as a humanitarian thing. Is it a financial thing? This is why we need to return and get back to the possibility, and start on the path of political detox with our language. We’ve got to start detoxing our language.
I appreciate that, Bill. There’s another important example that we need to mention here. I’m going to make two different observations. One of them has been written in the days since former President Donald Trump was suspended from Twitter. They have been evaluating the content being shared on Twitter among other social media platforms. The propagation of the spreading of disinformation has gone down 74% since Donald Trump was suspended from Twitter. That is shocking and illuminating, to say the least, but when you think about it, it makes some sense because he has 85 million or so followers on Twitter. If he’s not retweeting this fringe conspiracy theory and that message with a questionable truth, it’s not getting propagated as much. There are not as many people receiving it.
Talk about detox, it’s lowering the temperature on social media. The other thing that goes hand in hand with this that is very interesting is in January 20th, 2021, the day of the inauguration, President Joe Biden’s new Press Secretary held the first White House press briefing under the new administration, and it was decidedly boring. It was so normal, just trying to be communicating some transparency, what’s happening, and that it was civil and not controversial to the point where there was a yawn. That’s probably why somebody like Karl Rove is going to continue to be on media outlets like Fox News and trying to make a lot of noise about something that was truly a message of reaching out to the other side. Doing what Joe Biden has said that he’s going to try and do is, “Be bipartisan, work across, consider everybody’s needs, desires, and all that.” Karl Rove just took it and peed on it, if I could label it.Political Amnesia After The Elections Click To Tweet
The language used is very incremental. There’s a step-by-step process. I’m acknowledging what’s happening, “Yeah, it’s good. Joe Biden is here. He won, super.” His language is very reasonable at the beginning, then as time goes by, because our language is frail here, that as soon as they look for a globalized statement that’s not backed up with something specific. It’s okay to make a global sentence, just so that you’re specific about what it is. Let me do something simple here. It’s like your kid brings you a drawing. He just drew this and you look at it. You said, “That’s wonderful. You’re one of the best artists ever.” The kid smiles and then walks away. The reason why the kid is smiling is it wasn’t specific. If you say, “This is a wonderful drawing. I like how your combination of the use of yellow and red here because it reminds me of sunset. That’s showing some good skill there.” The kid is not walking away going, “I think that was just a praise and somebody gaslighting me.” They can see that there’s a specific thing.
When we look at the seventeen things that Joe Biden signed, the executive orders, those things, this is the way the messaging goes. The message that’s sent is that he is undoing what the good Make America Great Again things, and he’s replacing it with Barack Obama era things. Remember how we used to talk and hate Obama for eight years? We’re bringing all that and we’re going to tack it on to Joe Biden. Why? How could they not? He was the Vice-President so he’s an easy pin to go like, “We hated that guy because he was a Muslim and he was born in a foreign country.”
That’s all going to come back. I’m sure.
It’s all going to swirl as an opportunity. It gives an opportunity to take these small messages, these former branding points that we’re able to stick to and get traction in the past. Now, if we take a look at the seventeen, as soon as he said he’s going to rescind the XL Pipeline.
I saw that too, rescind the approval of the XL Pipeline permit.
I went, “Huh?” I don’t know enough about that to see if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Something I’m in agreement with or not in agreement, but the other one is more in alignment with my beliefs, my biases, or my experience of the things that I’ve read and researched. Those are going to be some of those things that are on the good side of the fence. The biggest takeaway that we can take away from the Donald Trump Presidency, again, to remember for all of you business people out there, for all of you people in the political things, is how essential it is to create a brand, a market strategy, and a sales narrative in order to get engagement to take place. That’s got to be associated with something that is good for America, not necessarily good for an American, one individual. “This is good for America. This is not good for an American because you might have to pay more taxes. You might have to do this. You might have to do some regulation you don’t like.”
“You might lose a job in the oil industry, but we’re going to create a new job for you over here in renewable energy type of things.” You can acknowledge the individual pain.
Even when we get to the medical stuff in the future, because the medical stuff is going to come back like a firetruck. The medical stuff got to come back because we’ve got to stop the pandemic. You’ve got millions of people with pre-existing conditions that the insurance companies don’t want to pay and quite frankly, it’s going to cream the rest of the system, unless we have some way that, “If you’ve got COVID-19, the government plan is going to cover you.” That lives up to the first sentence, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. “Those things didn’t work so well because we didn’t protect you. We didn’t protect your life. We didn’t present you the opportunity of liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is up to you in your current condition, however you are.”
It’s going to be interesting, there’s a certain amount of natural political detox that is starting to take place and will take place, but how some people are going to try to forget the past. They’re going to have self-inflicted amnesia.
“My son isn’t drinking. My daughter never drank before. My husband doesn’t drink anymore. It could have been him. I know I divorced him and it doesn’t matter all that much to me.” We’ve got to watch this detox process. Tom, it is not fun to watch when a person is shaking like this and their body is going through detox. That’s what’s happening in the nation.
We read about a lot of serious followers of QAnon that were disillusioned when the big revolution didn’t happen like, “What happened? There’s supposed to be this huge thing?” There are a lot of stories written about this. Even some longer-term detox, you and I saw there was an interesting interview with CNN with Shepard Smith, who was the long time Fox News journalist. This guy was interesting.
Let’s come back to that one because that one has a couple of good communication nuggets for all of us to realize how easily we can be hijacked by language.
He talks about why he left Fox News and there are good lessons in that in eliminating the difference between opinion and news.
We’re going to get better at it moving forward. It’s important to get those clarity lines. I can go to a comedy store and laugh it up, and somebody says something foul, walk home, and go like, “I’d never say that in public. I am just glad to watch the comedian do it because I can’t.” Tom, more to come. Thanks to everybody for reading. We appreciate it.
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