I was working a holiday job at Woodbury Commons in Central Valley, NY on January 6, 2021. Fresh off the train of being a long-time caregiver to my mother who died last September from end stage Parkinson’s Disease, I was still grieving and trying to figure out what my next move in life would be. The store was slow, and I checked my Facebook feed. There was a live video of insurrectionists storming the capitol in real time. I was glad there was little to no traffic in the store that day because I spent my entire shift glued to my phone watching the unbelievable unfold before my eyes, live on social media.
What appears to be the end of America can, in fact, be an opportunity for a new beginning. A liberal world order focused on political correctness, mindfulness, and tiptoeing around the valid feelings of anyone who may be offended on any given day has been challenged and shaken up by a frustrated population that is crying out for the opportunity for their truth to be heard, seen, and validated no matter how ugly, disturbing, or disruptive it may be. I wrote an article on LinkedIn in 2017 explaining why former President Donald Trump’s crass and uncouth persona was appealing to a large portion of the American populous – and still is.
The main takeaway? Trumpism is so infectious because he shamelessly gambles with his truth, even if it means showing the world that he is a crooked businessman and liar. He takes the big risk of knowing who he is, rolls the dice, and wins out every time because in a world where we are expected to perpetually mask who we truly are, it is refreshing to find a safe place to let go and be exactly who we are, even if that safety is an illusion. Trump’s rhetoric and branding give alternative lifestyles of all kinds, from eccentric spiritualists to hard core Anglo-Saxon Christian fundamentalists, a place to be heard, seen, and acknowledged. The frustration with a world that has forced people to hide who they really are under the guise of political correctness has taken center stage, and there is no turning back from that.
The opportunity before America is the opportunity to gamble with her truth. Instead of putting an idealistic and out of touch positive spin on everything, denying the ugly reality that is in front of the populous at any given time, acknowledge the problem head on and take positive action to devise and realize practical solutions. This is the basis of good policy analysis and should be the basis of any messaging strategy.
Where the mainstream media and political industry gets it wrong is covering up seeds of truth with feel-good lies and spin in support of a leftist political agenda run amok. Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are facing abysmal approval numbers (38% and 28% respectively) for Anti-Trump policies that have done more harm than good, such as the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan under the naïve assumption a country that harbors and nurtures international terrorist organizations will keep its hands to itself and within its own borders. The Department of Homeland Security has increased the terror threat level to compensate for any potential danger America faces due to restitution from Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Strategic messaging is like policy analysis: articulate and analyze the problem and then provide a meaningful and useful solution or spin that leans toward positive impact. I had an encounter with a prospective client who appeared to express genetic dwarfism. She was appalled that I suggested that she use this to her advantage, as she felt that my goal was to humiliate her. This was understandable reactivity, but my intent was misunderstood. The goal was to get ahead of the ugly side of human nature that would seek to humiliate her and use her journey as a healthcare professional to encourage and empower those in society who are marginalized and attacked for simply being. It is not helpful to act as if the elephant is not in the room. To solve the big problems of the human condition and the rise of cognitive warfare, the best strategy is to gamble with the truth and use it to fight for good.
The American narrative focuses too heavily on blanket solutions without carefully and thoroughly pushing a narrative the acknowledges the problem – the white supremacist past of America’s founding that continues to pervade American consciousness to this day. Instead of painting the Republican party as the party of white supremacy and extremism, acknowledge that the white supremacist mindset that Trump astutely exploits always has been and continues to be a foundational aspect of the American psyche.
Call the problem what it is. Accept that this reality is present in the divide in the Biden-Harris White House. Acknowledge that this is part of why Vice President Harris was not acknowledged or properly addressed during her time to speak at the signing of Biden’s historic $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Admit that January 6 was painfully American.
Broken clocks are right at least twice a day. Acknowledge when even the most extreme and broken clock is right, and then change course. Taliban leaders have previously called out that the West has the watches, but they [the Taliban] have the time. While the elites spar over who has the most expensive Rolex, the average people have nothing but time to plan, plot, organize, protest, spread misinformation, and rally around a common cause of yearning for freedom, dignity, and choice.
America still has time to recover, but her politicians, publicists, journalists, and influencers must put their watches down long enough to catch up and redirect the narrative before it’s too late.