Donald Trump has resurfaced in the public eye at the CPA Conference and rolls out his greatest hits of labeling and diagnosing everyone who he sees as a threat. In this episode, Bill Stierle and Tom dive deep into Donald Trump’s effective messaging and how people, particularly the Republican party, can act to take the flute out of the pied piper’s hands. They talk about counter-messaging and the struggles the Republican party faces while discussing Republicans Ted Cruz and Ben Sasse and how they interface with Trump’s attacking narrative. At the end of the day, what we need is for the country to heal and move forward. Listen in to this conversation for some great insights on how we can move beyond the Pied Piper, Donald Trump.
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Counter-Messaging to the Pied Piper: Donald Trump’s Effective Messaging and What to Do About It
Bill, there are a lot of things going on in our country. One of the most notable things is how Donald Trump resurfaced in the public eye for the CPA Conference. He rolled out his greatest hits of labeling and diagnosing everyone who he sees as a threat to him. He didn’t even have any new labels to bring out. Do you remember how in 2015, 2016 running against Marco Rubio was Little Marco? Now, it’s Little Ben Sasse. He couldn’t come up with a new one there. He did the same thing, labeling and diagnosing Liz Cheney. Any of the people that voted against him or that voted to impeach him in the house or to convict him in the Senate, he’s attacking them all.
Communication-wise, how do you protect yourself when the accusation is coming in the direction? How do we, as human beings, respond to somebody who is in the place of an attacking narrative, a name-calling narrative? It takes a bit to stare it down if somebody said, “Bill, you’re bald.” I can look at the person and say, “Are you feeling concerned about my aesthetics and my aesthetics aren’t appealing to you? How insensitive. You’re canceling me. Stop being a bully.” None of those sentences will work. It’s a gentle empathy sentence towards calling the person out about what they said. It diffuses the fight because then they look at you and say, “What did you say to me?” “I’m diffusing the label. I appreciate that you’re using that language but I am not jumping into the pit of scorpions with you. I’m going to empathize when you get stung.” Pick any line that you like, Tom. We can figure out how to stare it down. Let me do one of Donald Trump Jr.’s “Do you see what happened to Liz Cheney? All of her numbers are falling like a rock.” That’s what he said at CPAC. What do you say back to that?
I’m curious to hear.
The first thing I would have done is saying, “I noticed a film clip of Donald Trump Jr. It would be interesting to see what it would be like if he would have some ethics, morals and stood up to things instead of listening to the lies or the untruths that are being promoted by his father.” I wonder if he had an opinion that I had some integrity to it. The media would go like, “What did she say?” She did make the statement. I’ve been clear. I don’t see he’s the future of the Republican Party. That line has an energetic sticking. That is the piece of toilet paper he can’t get off his foot because it’s not the direction of the Republicans. If there are enough people that keep repeating that line, Donald Trump is not the direction of the Republican Party.
I feel doubtful that Donald Trump is going to be a long-term solution for the Republican Party immediately. He isn’t going to be a long-term solution because he’s starting to shrink. He can’t get the middle of the road folks to move over in his direction. Who wants to hold hands with that language and integrity? People are staying away. They still want the votes. They still want the 73 million voters. Those voters will not have a long-lasting loyalty because they’ll say, “I voted for him but once I found out what he was up to, then I’m with him.”
There’s something interesting going on here, Bill. On the one hand, the entire Republican Party, even though it’s fractured, should be seeing these clear signs. Donald Trump in office, they lost the House of Representatives in 2018. In 2020, Donald Trump lost the election and the Republicans lost the Senate. That’s not a good track record for victories under Donald Trump. Donald Trump came to CPAC. He’s singing the same song, running his playbook and trying to lead the people that voted for him, in a certain direction is back to him, isn’t it?Donald Trump's not the direction of the Republican Party. Click To Tweet
It is. They’ve got to face his narrative in a way that disables the emotion that goes along with it. We want to stare it down when he puts a reward for his listeners. That’s what the Pied Piper does. “Here’s the reward. Here’s the deal. Look what happened when Joe Biden put in. He’s changing all the good things I did back. Maybe I’ll run again and beat him for a third time.”
That may be is super critical.
That’s an uncertainty sentence. That creates doubt and skepticism inside the minds of other voters and inside the minds of Congress and senators that want to break with him but don’t know how. He is handcuffing them loyalty by creating doubt and skepticism. They could counter back. Even Mitch McConnell can counter back and say, “A part of me would vote for him and another part of me feels doubtful and skeptical that he’s the direction of my party and split the narrative.”
Can you imagine if Mitch McConnell did that? The biggest soundbite from Mitch McConnell ahead of CPAC was he was asked, “If Donald Trump wins the nomination, would you vote for him?” He clarified it. He said, “The nominee of the party? Absolutely.” He was showing loyalty to the party but also make it definitive that if Donald Trump is the nominee, he’d vote for him. What could Mitch McConnell have done to try to have it both ways?
His best sentence is saying, “I appreciate the question. It sounds like you’re asking me to have loyalty between Donald Trump and the Republican Party. My loyalty is to the Republican Party. If he happens to be the nominee, my loyalty is to the Republican Party. We will see how it will show up then.” Instead of giving the yes and no answer, he gave the yes answer. All of a sudden, it’s like you’re going to support an insurrectionist. What it does is it riles up the left to go, “What are you doing to our nation?” As well as what Mitch McConnell does not know what he’s doing is the people that are in the middle, that are center, center right, they’re going like, “I can’t.” Having those people come online, “I voted for Donald Trump but I’m over here. I voted for Donald Trump. I was loyal to him but I’m over here. Now I’m going to not vote for Donald Trump. I will feel uncomfortable with voting for a Democrat. I’d rather not vote for Donald Trump.”
That’s the way the voting went in the election. There were many people that voted down the Rs, Republican-wise and left the president blank or voted for someone else other than Joe Biden because of their issues. They’re going like, “I don’t want him in there but I also don’t want Joe Biden. I’m not going to give him a vote but I’m going to vote for my other Republican values, ideals and things like that.” It is interesting that people have multiple needs as we’ve talked about in the past. Our needs keep pulling at each other. “Am I going to go for loyalty? Am I going to keep my identity in place? I voted for Republicans for years. Am I going to switch parties? If I do switch parties, my identity changes but I don’t want to be an independent because that is the catch-all of all these other folks and the stray ideas that we can’t legislate on.”
It’s hard for a human being to decide on which needs they want to pick. I tended to go for people who speak in a voice of collaboration and cooperation. That’s where my vote tends to go. If I have a good Republican that votes in the voice of collaboration, cooperation and then backs that up, I’ll consider them, but if they do not or if they promote themselves as going to do that and then don’t do it. There’s a great example of this one where you have seen this in the news. Amazon has one of their factories in Alabama or one of their distribution centers is going to form a union.
That is a big possibility there.
Tom, one of the big things that’s in the news is that there is an Amazon distribution center in Alabama, and the workers have the idea that they want to do some collective bargaining. They want to become a union. Amazon has hired consultants. I heard the number was $32,000 a day about how to break unions. They don’t want the unions. How about that as a gig, $32,000 a day? These consultants come in and say, “Here’s the messaging that most works to keep the people to vote no on the union.” They say you’re going to get paid less. If you are going to X, Y, you’re going to have to pay dues on top of getting paid less. These are the problems with unions, with collective bargaining. What does that do? It’s out of scaring people away from speaking up and have a collaborative experience in wage suppression. What’s wage suppression? I want to keep my wages low with my entry-level people so that I can keep the margins moving up to the investors and the 1% or the 0.1%.
Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley during CPAC were for the working people. Ted Cruz, “We, Republicans, are for the people who have calluses on their hands.” He said that sentence. If that were true, then why is it that Ted Cruz, if he wants to be a national figure, which he is, shows up in Alabama and says, “Come on. Let’s march together for a union?” He’s not going to show up for that. Josh Hawley was going to fall silent when it comes to the worker. Part of their party, especially the one that’s on the Donald Trump side of fence, is like, “No, we want to keep the wages as low as possible. We’re going to talk nice to the people. We’re going to take it out on the immigrants,” which are going to be on the low part of the equation. They’re trying to and they’re looking to earn, work, participate in the American experience at the entry-level. The duality, even though you and I could take a half step back and go, “They’re full of it a little bit,” that’s not what’s important. What’s important is they’re creating the soundbite.
Ted Cruz is good at creating soundbites. He’s trying to appear like a Pied Piper, saying, “I’m for the working person.” The real Pied Piper is the former president at CPAC. He was running his playbook, playing his fiddle, getting everyone in there hanging on his every word. Because of that anticipation, reward and uncertainty, he is keeping people hanging on following him, even though he hasn’t committed to what he’s going to do in his political future. If you’re a Ben Sasse from Nebraska, you’re a Liz Cheney of Wyoming or any of the other people out there who have not been in lockstep with Donald Trump, he’s got you in your sights. He’s leading all the sheep, the children, if you will, out of the town following him. How do you combat that, Bill? I think it takes something different than what they’re all skilled to do.
They do not have the skill, the unique approach to step in it, cast doubt and skepticism in his direction. That’s the counter for him. Liz Cheney could go on any news place. MSNBC and Fox will have her on with no problem, saying, “I feel doubtful and skeptical because the president struggled in his leadership to get elected this last time around. Even though he did get the 73 million votes and I appreciate those folks voting for him, I feel doubtful and skeptical. It’s the future for the support that the Republican Party needs to move forward and to re-secure things. I think the things that I’m standing for with integrity, respect and trust are going to work a little bit better than the loyalty, connection and/or the messaging that he uses about promising things that he can’t deliver. I feel doubtful and skeptical that he can promise things that he delivered.”It's hard for human beings to decide on which needs they want to pick. Click To Tweet
He promised a lot of things. If we take a look at it, he wasn’t able to deliver it. He was convincing that he could deliver but he wasn’t able to deliver. He found some magic sentences that are wonderful from a branding and marketing place. He is an excellent brander. He’s one of the best marketers out there. I’m clear that he’s not the construction worker building his hotels. I’m clear that he hires those positions out. His job is to market and sell. He has marketed and sold 73 million Americans to vote. The only problem is that 81 million voted for the Democrats this time. We want to move forward as a party because a lot of those folks did not like voting for the Republican ticket.
I felt doubtful that he’s the path forward. Doubtful, skeptical, hesitant, nervous, anxious on Donald Trump’s name. I feel doubtful that it’s long run. It seems like he’s a good short-term promiser. He promises things in the short run but it doesn’t seem like he’s getting the things that we would like him to. He stopped things that we didn’t like for his constituents. He was a wonderful advocate for the oil industry. There are a lot of people that I like in the oil industry too, but regrettably, he’s provided more momentum for the solar and the things. It’s not a balanced approach the way I would like it to be. All of a sudden, all the chips are on her side.
What about Ben Sasse? He gave a speech that he was talking about how he says, “Our party can’t continue to worship,” the something of one dude. He was talking about how they were worshiping this one guy and abandoning the vibe.
We’ll put the word personality. It’s the cult of personality. You’ve got the word cult in there. Nobody wants to be a part of a cult, even though they’re following the Pied Piper completely out of the party and they’re taking the party and the stuff with them. The story of the Pied Piper is so valuable. Here is this messenger that says, “I will get rid of your rats. Give me this amount of money.” They say, “Here’s the money to get rid of the rats.” The Pied Piper plays the rat tune, all the rats follow him out of town, comes back in town versus us, “We weren’t going to pay you,” “I got rid of your rats.” “That was easy for you. We’re going to pay you half. We’ll pay you a third. We’ll give you $100.” “I’ll give you $100 after the vote is cast.” This is the thing that the certain voters are coming back. They’re trying to double down on their first vote and their second vote for him. They’re going to stay in there because they think the bet is going to work. Meanwhile, the music is still the same.
As soon as he’s elected, he stops playing the flute. He’ll have a phone call with the senator from Maine, Susan Collins. She’ll go on media and say, “He learned his lesson.” He turned, “I didn’t learn my lesson. I won. I’m not going to change.” She’s left there holding the bag and going, “He and other people in his office said that he wasn’t going to do this anymore. He cut on me. I’m carrying the water.” Even though the good people of Maine voted for her again because of his messaging and the fear that they create on that side of the fence. It’s not something that is one that’s built around entrepreneurialism, progress, growth, cooperation, collaboration. It’s a bad company that makes a bad product and jacks up the price to make it look more valuable. The market promotes the crap out of it. You’re going like, “This thing doesn’t work.” It looks good in packaging but it doesn’t work. It’s a difficult time that we’re having as a nation.
It’s painful to watch these Republican candidates. The Liz Cheney’s, Ben Sasse’s, the people, someone from Illinois, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski. She’s the other one that all voted to convict Donald Trump or to impeach Donald Trump. He’s trying to hang them out to dry. He’s using the labels. He’s like, “Little Ben Sasse.” What do these people do to keep Donald Trump from hijacking the party to get that flute out of his hands?
Celebrate what he is saying to them. It’s straight-out celebration. “I feel appreciative President Donald Trump is mentioning me in his speech. It seems like he is honoring the integrity and respect that I was talking about. He’s name-calling. I appreciate it because it points out that I have an opposite opinion than he does about what peaceful transitions look like. It seems like he doesn’t know how to language a peaceful transition. All he knows how to do is stir conflict.”
Donald Trump would not know what to do with that. The journalists covering them are going to be like, “What?” This shouldn’t be that difficult for them to do, Bill. They just need a little awareness.
It’s awareness, coaching, practice about how to language compassion and empathy for Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s voters. Notice how I’m going after compassion and empathy for Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s voters. If anybody’s reading this, they’re rolling their eyes, going like, “How do you do that?” In my world of mediation and communication, the guy has a need for respect, recognition, acknowledgment and self-worth. Why not feed those needs? I have those needs. Tom, you have those needs for respect, recognition and acknowledgment. Your worth as a person is important because you’re a human being too. The only thing is that you’ve got to have the courage to step in and through the experience not to defend, criticize and have contempt for or withdraw from. You’ve got to get your voice in it early. As soon as someone mentioned something, you’ve got to step in and step in hard.
It appears like if you do that, Donald Trump is going to end up continuing to do the same things he’s always done. The only things he knows how to do is going to walk himself further out on a plank, so to speak, and look like the petulant child.
When you bring empathy in there, what winds up happening is that the person then gets the little experience of empathy that you’re giving them. They don’t fully know it, but then they go for the next step or the next rung of the ladder. They don’t know that they’re walking the plank of the pirate ship. They don’t know that they’re walking out to the edge. I can appreciate Josh Hawley getting his need for connection and respect meant by doing a fist pump to a crowd of insurrectionists outside the White House in order to get his need for being seen met. He has his poster for the next run that he has. He has a poster of him doing a fist pump.
“Are you going to stay with people who fight for the beliefs that I have? I have a Republican R next to my name. Nobody on my party is going to challenge that. They don’t know what to do with me. They’re all withdrawing, putting their head under the desk. They have contempt for me. Mitt Romney is sitting behind me, having contempt for me doing that thing that I was doing with the vote.” In Mitt Romney’s face, you saw how much contempt and bitterness he had in his face. Look at it. He’s thinking, “How am I going to deal with these people?” Mitt Romney doesn’t know what to say or do. It’s hard. They don’t know how to apply empathy and compassion for people doing tragic things.Your worth as a person is important because you're a human being too. Click To Tweet
That would be a valuable skill for them to learn, I’ll tell you.
Tom, you know that you love your children. You know that when they throw a tantrum, throwing a bigger tantrum will not work or cause damage in the relationship between you and them. There are many parents that go and do a tantrum, do the damage and wonder why their kid is doing drugs at age 13, 14 and 15. If you try to wipe a kid out early, the Republican Party is going down that railroad track and they don’t know how to get an off-ramp. They don’t know how to switch over to where they need to be. They keep driving the train out there and the bitterness and the messaging. Let’s do this one. This one is an easy one. In communication, if a comedian wants to use profanity from stage, they will get laughs. If they want to tell dirty jokes that are bad in graphics, profanity-laden and things like that.
As a veteran comedian will say, “You will win the battle but you’ll lose the war. The battle that you win is that onstage, you will get those laughs. The war is that corporate sponsors will not give you money to fund to have you be their spokesperson. They will not do that because of your potty mouth on stage. They will not sign up. Is Eddie Murphy going to get a Coca-Cola ad? Does he care that much?” The answer is no. He’s walking down that brand identity as edgy and stuff, let alone his talented acting skills on top of his early comedic pieces. The individual now has a lot more room because of Donald Trump to be confrontational and not get burned in the political space the way they used to.
Is Andrew Cuomo going to hang on? Is he going to be able to make it with the things that Democrats seem like they keep holding on to integrity regarding ethics violations and things like that? It gives the Republicans more room in order to do things like that. Are you going to give them the pass or not? On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s like, “We don’t want that energy in this space. Sorry, you can’t be a part of our party. You can be a part of our party but you can’t be a voter. You can vote for us but you cannot lead us.” That’s something that Donald Trump has done a wonderful job as the marketing and sales Pied Piper, present a reward, create anticipation about getting the thing that he promises and then create the uncertainty too. “I don’t know if I’m going to run. I’m not sure if it’s going to happen.”
Some people always say. Some people even say it’s the biggest thing ever. American vaccines are going to be all throughout the world. The answer is they’re way ahead of us. Are they going to buy it? Eventually, because we’re good producers, some of these other countries will pay for the vaccines that we’ve developed but not the way we could have collected. If you were ahead of it, you would have been reelected the way you handled the pandemic, but he was not in that space. The product identity differentiation is so prominent that President Joe Biden visits Texas and sees what they need, brings some open checks, masks are off. I’m going to differentiate. You could see how unsettling that is. You’re taking the federal check and you’re not supporting the person that gave you the check. That does not meet the need for collaboration and cooperation and it doesn’t fit the title of the United States of America.
Do you want borders around Texas? Do you want to keep it separate? The Lone Star State, do you want to keep that identity? It’s fantastic but still, be a part of the collaborative. All of a sudden it’s like, “Why do I want to work with you?” Tom, you and I have had experiences of businesses that we don’t want to work with anymore. It’s not fun. It’s not healthy. It’s not worth our time and energy. I’ve turned down a lot of money because of that. I’m not doing that product. I’m not going to promote it. It’s not in alignment with that. That’s the difference between short-term. There is more long-term collaboration between the oil industry and the solar industry, the natural things. It’s collaboration. It would work.
To me as a business owner, that’s business 101. Every business goes through a process of growth, peaking, flattening out and declining. Every product or service, it happens. Apple has to keep finding out new things to bring out because each new iPhone doesn’t keep selling as much as the older ones did. How much are you going to change this rectangular device we use and put in our pockets? There are some technological advances here or there. Every product has a life cycle to it. The reality is you’ve got to keep coming up with something new. I’ve done this in my own business. I see an opportunity, start it while this other one is still generating revenue, start building this one up. That’s what happened to my business. Eventually, this other one starts taking off and gets going so strong. It eclipses the other original business that you used to be able to justify building this other one. You’ve got to recognize that and do it. You can’t just do one thing at a time here.
I think when we look at getting the Pied Piper as the person that keeps selling the same message. The message it’s sticking in people’s brain is immigrants bad. What winds up happening is that that non-acceptance shows up. What the business owner doesn’t get or what the American doesn’t get that’s doing that place, immigrant bad, all the immigrants then start moving into their own neighborhoods and then they create their own economies inside that space. You’re not creating the collaboration and cooperation you want for a healthy city that it has an integrated population. All kinds of stuff show up. This is the language of separation, the language of, “You’re different and better. You’re worse.” All of those things are short-term, self-worth inflation thoughts and beliefs. It’s not a healthy collaborative nation as we like. It’s hard to do that as an adult moving forward for the field of time versus somebody that creates a war in order to create unity, which is a way that America has come together. We’ve came together through conflict.
I would have expected Americans to come together through a crisis like COVID.
This would be a great way to come together but they’ve picked a narrative that is not a healthy narrative. It’s poisonous. The poison is language. It’s toxic. It’s toxic to the health of the Republic. With the antidote and the vaccine to the Donald Trump, Pied Piper is the message of doubt and skepticism about not just the short-term direction but the long-term direction for the Republican Party. They’re wondering what to do. They’ve got a bunch of broken boards over here. They don’t know how to assemble it into a ship over here to go anywhere. It’s like, “I’ve got these broken boards over here. I don’t know what to do with the broken boards.” “How about these other boards?”
Those ones you can’t even get off the nation. You can’t even have respect internationally if you pick those ones. There’s no international community that is going to embrace a second Donald Trump term. There’s nobody that’s going to want to do a treaty with the guy. They’ll sit and go like, “I don’t know. We’ll wait four years until a better guy comes along.” About 1 or 2 years of his campaign, they were going like, “We’ll wait. Maybe we’ll have to deal with him but we’ll see what those Americans are going to do. We don’t trust them.”
I think the Republicans in there and the broken political system that exists is struggling. They have to figure it out. I think that if certain people are trying to stand for principles and values, their messages are getting drowned out by the Pied Piper. They need to get some skills and come up with a different approach to bring in their message out.Messaging on a value wins over messaging on a result. Click To Tweet
All of the folks that voted against Donald Trump have got to unite on their new message and their new direction. If somebody picks on Mitt Romney, Susan Collins needs to stand up for Mitt Romney right then or Lisa Murkowski or Adam Kinzinger. They’ve got to step up for each other and go like, “I heard that Former President Donald Trump said this thing about Mitt Romney.” It’s interesting how he is going to get connection, build loyalty through conflict, and try to take it out on Mitt Romney. “I’d rather stand with Mitt Romney than I would with President Donald Trump because that’s more of the future of the party.” All of a sudden, it’s cooperation and collaboration between a united message on integrity. He likes to stir up. He doesn’t have any shame about it. Isn’t that interesting how Donald Trump is able to sell from a shaming position? The media will go like, “What did you say?” He’s selling from shame and guilt. He’s building loyalty over that value set. I’m not sure if that’s how America wants to move forward. I’m not sure if that’s a good path for us.
Republican leaders out there, you need to not only read this episode but seek out Bill Stierle and see how you could get some help. That’s so needed. The country needs it to heal and move forward beyond Donald Trump. Stop worshiping this one guy who over-promises and under-delivers.
We’ve got to have a healthy two-party system, conservative values and need for order, stability and strength. Fiscal responsibility has got to come back into the middle where it belongs. It’s not to say that some of the things that the Democrats are spending on is fiscally responsible. A healthy capitalism thing is a fiscal responsibility thing to pay for. If it’s $1,400, $1,000 or $2,000 check, pay attention to what your message is. It’s fiscally responsible to keep the mainstream open with them. “I’m into the value of fiscal responsibility for a healthy capitalism at the same time as doing my job as a public servant, as a Republican.” See how weird that is. Doing my job as a public servant, it looks like stability for the mainstream.
You don’t hear this kind of messaging coming out of them. If you did, all of a sudden, that person would be riding a wave of attention. When Donald Trump does anything to try to steer that attention back in his direction, it’s going to look petty. It’s going to look like he’s a whiner and a complainer.
You’re picking on that. I’ll say that toe-to-toe. What’s missing is they believe that popularity wins. That’s not wins. Value wins. Messaging on a value wins over messaging on a result. He keeps messaging on a result. There are caravans forming again. It’s going to start all over again. It’s stopped while I was in there. It didn’t fully stop because people still flew in and are still squatting after they got here. He barely stopped 15% of immigration. Congratulations. You cause damage with respect. That’s a head shaker. It’s hard. Tom, we can go but at least we can get integrity back into the middle of the mix, Republican Party, which would be healthy.
It’s so refreshing. I hope for that day.
Tom, have a good one. Thanks, everybody, for reading. We’ll see you next time.
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