Enlightened Conflict

Trump voters deserve some dignity too

February 9th, 2017

pew survey america

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Walt Whitman wouldn’t have forgotten them …

He knew that the fate of each one of us is inextricably linked to the fate of all.

 

The notion that the fate of each one of is tied to the fate of all is the essence of democracy.

 

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“Dignity is as essential to human life as water, food, and oxygen. The stubborn retention of it, even in the face of extreme physical hardship, can hold a man’s soul in his body long past the point at which the body should have surrendered it.”

 

Laura Hillenbrand

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“Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.”

 

Rick Bragg

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So.

 

american handsI have been unequivocal on this issue from day one … people who vote, and voted, for Trump are no more, and no less, than anyone who didn’t. They are not ‘more stupid’, ‘more ignorant’ or more anything other than more for Trump than many of the other people.

 

Yes.

Trump is an unequivocal asshat.

 

Yes.

Some, and I mean a small sliver, of those who support Trump are asshats <let’s call them Deplorables>.

 

Yes.

As we watch Trump supporters twist themselves into pretzels trying to defend immature lack of leadership and some misguided behavior <with scraps of good ideas being wasted within> some of us want to smirk and say “I told you so” … or say worse.

 

That said.

 

Yes.

Most people who took the time to vote, who took the time to look around and think about their world, the world around them and maybe the world in a bigger sense <be that just America or global> deserve some respect. And they absolutely deserve human dignity … which anyone, regardless of who you voted for, should protect and recognize as one of the things that unites people in a democracy <albeit it oddly divides us at exactly the same time>.

 

Yes.

 

While I think Donald Trump is a moron … I cringe every time I hear someone describe the people showing support for him as ‘uneducated’ or focus the dignity prouddescription on “no college education.”

 

This implies they are stupid.

 

And it also implies everyone with a college education is not stupid.

Trump voters, as with 99% of any country’s population, are not stupid <and, I would note, people with a college education may actually own the market of stupidity>.

 

His supporters are real people with real worries and real lives … and are not stupid.

 

I wrote this in ‘calling of the trumpets’ back in January 2016:

 

In the end he is selling a false ‘us versus them’ narrative and he is selling empty promises by offering past glory which he will somehow craft as a phoenix from the fire.

It all sounds good.

Well.

It sounds safe … and ‘safe’ always sounds good when you view the future and see … well … fog and not a clear horizon.

 

But the future never … let me repeat … never resides in the past.

 

And people, including Trump followers, know that in their heart of hearts but when no one but a bombastic blowhard is offering what appears to be a viable alternative … some people, some smart people, with anger of feeling marginalized and concern for their way of life will follow even an empty promise.

 

But, once again, that doesn’t make them stupid. In fact … as I read what I have written I am surprised more people haven’t flocked to this asshole. Because asshole or not … if someone thinks he can deliver on ‘winning so much you will get tired of it’ and ‘being great again’ being an asshole can be overlooked.

 

We need to recognize Trump followers not as the ‘unwashed uneducated’ but rather as people, listen to them, debate and disagree with respect. And maybe, just maybe, we can convince them that the best version of them resides in the future which most likely will not look an awful lot like the past but be just as good if not better.

 

Trump is a moron but the people who are currently following Trump are anything but morons. They are thirsty and he is offering water. I may personally not want his version of water but I think it is up to me, and us, to show why the water I would offer tastes better than the water he offers.

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Yes.

President Trump deserves the respect of the position … but he also deserves the criticism associated with how he assumes the responsibility of the position.

To date he has only earned the moniker of ‘moron.’

 

 

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“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.

On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

 

—–

H.L. Mencken

 

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But that does not make people who invited their hopes in him as morons. If we were to make such a link then … well … that would be a crowded room because how many of us have invested in some misguided hope at some point in our lives? <answer: 99% of us>

 

Now.

 

Google ‘why Trump won” and you will get about “160 million results in .6 seconds.”

The theories run from insightfully intellectually complex to scary simplistic drivel.

 

I would suggest that everyone take a second and go back to the “One Recession, Two Americas” study PewResearch offered us back in 2010. have have nots 2 americas

 

You would end up seeing that about 55% of America “lost ground”, encountering real difficulties & consequences, and the other 45% of the country “held their own” — the recession was largely free of major difficulties.

 

That 55% not only ‘lost ground’ but they feel marginalized economically, personally <as a citizen>, American-ly <they feel America is being marginalized> and politically.

And because they ‘lost ground’ they became increasingly concerned about their country, their economic state, their families, their jobs and their future as well as the future of their kids

 

For that 55% their world view looks better, and very different, than the world that currently exists.

 

Where you live also is associated with how well you fared during hard times: Easterners are significantly more likely than residents of the South, West or Midwest to have better weathered the economic storm.

I should also note that a college diploma is a strong shield against hard times: nearly six-in-ten college graduates count themselves among the 45% who experienced fewer difficulties during the recession, compared with 38% of those whose educational attainment was a high school diploma or less.

 

Suffice it to say that for about 55% of the country the recession either stopped your progress or ground it to a stuttering progress. And that was in 2010.

 

Which means for a good 6 years those who “lost ground” have had to look around and watch celebrated wins <of which most did not participate in>, watch America social progress happen <of which often didn’t look like the kind of meaningful progress they cared about> and watch a government continue to make promises that only seemed to come to Life for … well … not the Lost Grounds.

And all the while they kept hearing people say “the lost grounders” lives are improving <and they wondered ‘who the hell are those people talking’ and ‘who the hell are the people improving’>.

 

I don’t need to make any high falutin’ intellectually complex argument with regard to why someone voted for Trump … I can go back to this one piece of research and say “here is where the 40some million people who voted for Trump resides.” They are the “lost ground” 55% of America all the way back in 2010.

 

And you know what?

They deserve dignity in Life and, it would seem to me, that ‘losing ground’ in any form or fashion … real or perceived … dents a person’s dignity <among other things> and that is just not that difficult for even my pea-like brain to understand.

 

In the end.

 

I want to be clear that simply because we may learn to understand and empathize with the issues other people, including Trump voters, may have that we shouldn’t maintain a constant vigil for HOW the issues are being addressed … to protect our rights, freedoms and … well soul.

And I mention the soul because debates between two people grounded in ‘here is what I think’ very often grinds its way down into a very practical and pragmatic argument … one in which important things like ‘soul’ get left out.

 

where no hope incumbent on us inventIt is incumbent upon us to maintain steadfast vigil over who and what we want to be “when we grow up” as we grind away over issues in the here & now.

 

It is incumbent upon us to take on divisiveness of ideas, minds and desires with respect.

 

But.

 

It is also incumbent upon us to remain vigilant with regard to the Trump administration and how it addresses ‘de-normalizing’ some of our American ideals that have remained steadfast for centuries.

 

It is incumbent upon us to recognize that the worst of Trump, & the administration, simply plays to the worst that is within some people … and it is incumbent upon us to state, simply & clearly & unequivocally, there is something better than the worst.

 

It is incumbent upon us, all of us, to recognize that Trump is an instrument of awareness.

Good bad, beautiful and ugly … his blunt childish simplistic rhetoric bares some of the truths we all have to deal with. But I would suggest it is incumbent upon all of us to not allow him to be judge & jury, nor should we be judge & jury for each other <Trump voters & non-Trump voters> … but instead we should encourage every individual, whether they voted for Trump or not, to look in the mirror for the judge & jury.

 

Look.

 

I don’t get it.

I struggle to find a real valid reason that anyone took a risk on a choice like Trump for America <present & future America> … regardless of how deep in a shithole you may think we are.

 

But.

As noted in my opening quote … the fate of each one of us is inextricably linked to the fate of all. I am they and they are me … and that is just the way it is. patriotism Trump voter freedom responsibility

 

I will listen and debate and treat them with the dignity they deserve … they are no more, or less, a patriot than I.

 

I cannot judge the Trump voter and I do believe they deserve the dignity of their opinion, their thoughts … and their issues that in some way made them believe  Trump offered some hope in resolving.

 

What I do know is that I can judge Trump, and I will, and I will do so vociferously to Trump voters as well as to the world at large … mostly because I know I don’t want someone like me to be president … I want someone better than me.

 

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meladoodle:

 

why do trump supporters say they like trump cause he ‘says whats on his mind’… like no shit man, i have people in my tumblr inbox who say whats on their mind all the time. i had a guy send me a message that said “vape on my dick”. thats whats on their mind and they said it. i’m not like “oh man… dude… lead us…”

 

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the ongoing Trump crap show (a diary)

January 5th, 2017

 bullshit type

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“Bullshit is a greater enemy to the truth than lies are.”

 

Harry Frankfurt

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Well.

 

If I got paid by the word with regard to everything I have received about

Trump and everything I have written in response about the ongoing Trump shit show <almost 18000 words in one week on the asshat himself> … well … suffice it to say I would most likely be lounging outside the Deux Magots with a funny looking beret on my head sipping on some French espresso living the large life.

 

 

That said.

 

 

I admit

 

When I share my thoughts I am not quite sure if my Trump frame of reference is “amateur trying to do a professional’s job” or sheer incompetence or bullshit languagedangerous naiveté <simplistic thinking applied to a complex issue> or lack of understanding of how to lead, purposeful ignorance or he is just a purposefully ignorant dumbass … regardless … all of it always through the filter that “strength is only conveyed through an obvious façade of unwavering thin skinned bombastic narcissism”.

 

In addition … I never really know if I am assessing lies or bullshit.

To lie assumes a presumption the person actually knows the truth <and I often seriously doubt he knows what the hell he is talking about> while bullshit, by contrast, does not know or care whether what s/he says is true or false. The liar possesses knowledge of the truth, while the bullshitter ignores it entirely.

 

What I do know <and I’m concerned> is that the other morning on tv I saw a panel of journalists/news anchors simply laugh out loud over a preposterous trump tweet lie … and move on. He has normalized lying to such an extent they don’t even bother to respond or comment … just snicker at the absurdity of it all.

 

And all the while, as they snicker and dismiss, it is only The Donald who can tell the truth while everyone else is automatically lying.

 

Black is white.

Up is down.

In is out.

 

In this alternative world Trump creates an alternate truth … and somehow we are actually letting it become real.

This cannot be normalized nor can it be deemed accepted. The Trump shit show has to be publicly reviewed as constant bullshit.

 

Regardless.

 

The people who ask me about Trump bring up valid points and express valid thoughts. Love Trump or hate Trump he has made people talk about what matters.

 

Here is a random sampling of thoughts shared with me  … and thoughts I have shared in return:

 

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  1.  Americans don’t think America is great.

The gap between rich and poor has grown wider.

As have black and white relations.

Hollywood thinks it’s great, because they’re in the stratosphere of pay.

Someone makes $2.5 million a month.  A month!

Good for him. Bad for middle class who can’t relate.

 

  1.   Most people don’t like the Clintons or the Bush’s.  They’re just slimy people.

 

  1.   Trumps vision is this:   Every deal must be great for America. Not even. Better. That’s winning.

We’ve been losing to the Chinese for years. Losing manufacturing jobs, losing companies to Mexico, etc. The fact that he wants those companies going to 3rd world companies to pay a tariff on their products coming back in to America, is genius. A fair penalty for not giving Americans here a job.

 

  1.   What’s nice about Tweets over Speeches is they’re his own words. Not rehearsed scripts written by others. It’s real. Raw. Right or wrong. It’s honest.

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The thoughts are valid … if slightly misguided. But I answer every email I get and try and address each thought one by one.

 

Why?

 

The discussion is all that matters. The moment we stop talking with each other and debating with each other is the moment we stop listening and … well … we stop. Period.

And that is not good.

 

 

Trump’s message, dumbed down for America, is simple:

Make America great again.

 

*** uhm. This only works if enough people believe America is in enough of a shithole that it isn’t great now.

 

And he is a master at creating shithole perceptions:

election choices dimensions self interest

-Create more U.S. jobs <by implying unemployment is horrible levels … and it is not>

 

-Re-negotiate bad trade deals <by implying globalization is bad … and it is not>

 

-Make friends again with Israel & Russia <uhm … we are supportive of Israel with unwavering security support … oh … implying we should be friends with Russia … who by the way needs us … and we do not need them>

 

-Why?  Because the enemy of my enemy (ISIS) is my friend <oh … if it were only that simple … it is easier to just say islam is bad>. Oh … also … by implying ISIS is an actual existential danger to us AND by implying it is a bigger issue than it is <that’s called ‘selling through fear’>.

 

-Stop illegal immigration (somehow-most likely a fence and more border patrol) <if it were actually a big problem … I would agree … he implies it is a big problem>

 

-Eliminate the bad parts of ObamaCare. Most of which, “only works, if you don’t.” <which, oddly, Clinton & Obama wanted to do and Republicans did not>

*** I would note on Obamacare … imagine where we would be if everyone had done what Kasich had done on day one … rather than fight it … he moved forward to see how it could benefit his people. If it had been embraced on day one it would be fine and have less fixes needed.

 

Other issues discussed?

 

Tariffs.

 

They weren’t good then and they are not good now.

All they do is raise the costs to us, the working people, as the company passes them along back to us. His tariff only on US company importing back in to US is almost as non-genius as his “tariffs on China.”

 

Its simplistic drivel that suggests you can penalize companies for competing in a free market.

  1. The issue isn’t cheap labor … it is varying cost of living nation to nation. In a global economy unless everyone has the same cost of living <and standard of living> there will always be other places cheaper to create the shit you want to create. Tariffs only exacerbate the issue.
  2. 90% of jobs outside of USA will never come back. We need to get over that. Those jobs are cheaper through automation in US if we demand they bring them back.
  3. Tariffs kill many small businesses who can only compete with cheaper goods outside of USA.

 

You cannot bring back jobs. And, practically, he doesn’t really care about the overseas jobs <and he shouldn’t> … everything he is talking about is about bringing back money. Which he is gonna need with his budget plan <that part is actually ok>.compete Authentic Self

 

Authentic.

 

Sigh.

 

What a sad state of affairs if we are using ‘like Trump because he is authentic.’

Authenticity has never hit such a low.

Especially if it is combined with ‘raw & honest.’ I will give him raw … but honest? He is not just a liar … he creates an alternative universe. And, please, please don’t say ‘all politicians lie.’ The majority use selective truths and facts. At least their ‘lies’ are mostly a distortion of the entire story. Trump authentically creates an entirely new story <lie>. He is singlehandedly destroying the concept of authentic.

 

Twitter & tweeting.

 

…. by the way, saying “he should make speeches not tweets,” is like me saying, “we should do television ads  not social media!”   The world has changed. Forever.

 

*** wrong. Leader’s words matter. And how and when you use words matter. If he tweeted his vision, if he tweeted words that led ?? sure. Maybe. But he has quotes using navigatedivided so much thru his rhetoric he needs, as a leader, to establish a construct for what he plans. His tweets appeal to his rabid base who say ‘do whatever you want.”

But most people want a leader to lead.

He needs more than 140 characters to explain. And, no, the world has not changed forever in this case. Twitter is a supplemental communication tool. It does not live in a vacuum. It cannot. It supplements, or compliments, events and stories and content. He needs to offer content.

 

China.

 

Well. They have a significantly lower cost of living and standard of living for their workforce. Their government subsidizes their private businesses. They are US economy from maybe 100 years ago.  TPP was our best way of curbing China … anything you may think is bad tradewise with China now … will get worse without TPP.

Unless we demand everyone to stop wanting to own a home and to need $70,000 a year to live … competing with China will always be difficult <and the same with any of the developing countries>.

The other thing people seem to forget is … if you are a global company the closer you can put your manufacturing to the sale … the lower the distribution costs.

I am not suggesting trade deals do not always need to be tweaked <not trashed or even renegotiated>. Market dynamics demand shifts in deals to maintain balance. But the overall goal should always be win win. Especially for USA. Because we have the largest economy … and we have the largest buying capability … we win if the tide rises higher.

 

Great.

 

The majority of people actually do think America is great <numbers show that>. And even middle class America does <albeit if you look at just the Republican numbers they think we are in a complete shithole>.

What many people have been convinced is that someone has it better than they people forget own greatnessdo … and they get grumpy about that.

Heck. We barrage people with so much negative crap even if they are happy they have been convinced they should be unhappy.

 

This may be the greatest example of the gap between perception and reality I have seen in my lifetime.

Small groups of people are desperately in worse shape, some people are in good shape but have not improved, most people are doing fine but hearing all the talk about the top 1% and feel entitled to some of what they got. That is reality. we have a higher standard of living than any country of any size in world. We live longer, are, other than fat, in good health, best and largest economy in the world, low unemployment, low overall violence <with isolated pockets which people distort to a larger view>.

 

That is Trump’s most egregious flaw. He distorts “the one” into “the many.” He implies an isolated situation is indicative of the greater whole. And he does it with such hyperbole <and lies> even if most people do not believe it … it elevates whatever perception you may already have a little higher <therefore … he drags more people closer to believing we are in a shithole … not great>.

 

Winning & trade deals.

 

Oh. If it were only as simple as you suggest. Trade deals are not just trade deals … they encompass foreign policy as well as alliance issues. Regardless. Even if they were only trade … in a global world a ‘deal’ wins when it is balanced … you call it ‘even’ … one side does not win. If you do try and negotiate something like that you create imbalance in the relationship <which creates anger & frustration> and creates the kind of ‘why America is hated’ feeling which seeps into the population which … well … creates terrorists.

We seek mutually beneficial deals in which American companies benefit. The issue isn’t trade deals … it is deciding what we want the American economy to be and how we can insure the American worker benefits. Companies, in general, do not care about the labor force unless they need them. It is, frankly, not in their interest to care.  Their interest is to be competitive in the marketplace and make money.

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job i am the greatest confidence trumpMy own guess is that Theresa, having sussed in advance that her interlocutor is a blithering saddo, will put him at his ease with an extravagant compliment about his non-existent personal magnetism. “That thing on your head is divine,” she will be already saying during the soup course. “So elegant, yet so masculine.

How do you keep it in place? Surely only the strongest industrial adhesive can contain something so powerfully virile?”

By that time, she will be breathing in his ear and he eating out of her hand. Cue violins.

 

—-

Clive James

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  • So as an Independent who loathes politicians and lawyers in general, I, like so many others are willing to give him enough rope to hang himself.  Which, he may do.  But my goodness, give it a chance.  Because as even Obama says;  “We want good things to happen. Because if he fails, we fail.”

 

*** I have never suggested I want him to fail. All I have ever done is demand he lead. I don’t want to give him rope to fail because if he fails … we all hang.

 

 

  • I LOVE that he’s pissing off Republicans, Democrats, Bush’s, Clintons, and everything in the political establishment. So do a ton of Americans.  No more politics as usual, and all these cozy-wink-wink jobs are going away. No wonder they’re all freaked out.  I say, throw them out!

 

Well.

 

No one of any consequence is hysterical <although I would suggest if I saw any of my employees hysterical I wouldn’t laugh or shrug it off as silly … I would sit back and wonder what I had done to create it>.

They are freaking out not because it is affecting status quo … but rather because <a> he shows no sign of being a leader and <b> he shows little sign he knows what he is getting into to.

 

No one is pissed off. These are people who take their jobs seriously and have serious jobs to do.

They are all concerned he is not qualified and not doing anything to insure he can meet the bare minimum to fulfill his obligations as a president.

 

If I wanted to hire a change agent I could have hired him as a consultant. He got hired to be a president.

People absolutely fear what they do not know.

 

Ultimately, that is my point. A good leader abhors uncertainty in their organization. It creates dysfunction and inefficiencies.

 

  • It’s amazing to me how many people criticize him, before he’s even been in office one day. What happened to Liberals wanting everyone to have a fair chance to prove themselves?…

 

This has nothing to do with liberals. People I know say the republicans are mortified by his behavior and uncomfortable with his lack of leadership skills to date.trump-money-winning-god-we-trust-captalism

 

And that is why you shouldn’t be amazed. Being president isn’t about ‘getting a chance.’

This is a country and not a business. And it is certainly not a real estate business with no culture and just “Trump personality” as a guiding compass.

 

But even if I do view this as a business leader … he has done nothing to show leadership, explain his vision <except in tweets>, explain that he understands the depth & breadth of what is demanded of his position <diplomacy>, or even made an effort to explain to the significant majority of the country who did not vote for him <democrats + independents + nonvoters> how he plans on uniting everyone after he was so divisive in the campaign <and continues to use words that divide>.

 

He sees uncertainty as a plus. And maybe in his little world of real estate it is … but in the bigger world where his words drive company value up & down, his tweets create diplomacy issues and his silence permits everyone to guess what he will do … there has to be some undergirding of certainty to hold it all together.

Any business leader will tell you that. He looks like, and acts like, a rookie in a leadership position. He is making the type of leader mistakes we make in our first big promotion.

 

On top of that … I wrote about this days before the economic piece I wrote … he acts like a president now but acts like his actions have no repercussions until inauguration. He is the president elect and not a citizen sitting at the corner of the bar bitching about ‘those damn politicians.’

 

And if you think everyone else globally is sitting around waiting to see what he really is gonna do … well … you are nuts.

 

While I criticize him incessantly for his words and his lack of understanding that words matter. I criticize him mostly for his lack of leadership. He has never run a company with an organizational culture. He has only run a transactional company. He would not know how to run a real company if you … well … tried to teach him.

 

As I wrote in my piece … I would have him work for me and I would direct him to do things because he is transactional. He would be great at sales and duking shit out on a transaction by transaction basis. But I would never, ever, permit him to run an entire business organization. our only hope is, just as I wrote, the cabinet people can see beyond the simple transactions and weld together a new global economy without costing us too much with regard to our overall role in the world beyond simple economics.

 

I criticize him because he deserves criticism. He is not a thin skinned brat. He is not a tweeter in chief. He is responsible for 320 million people. He is responsible for a country that currently resides at the hub of the global wheel.

 

 

In addition I often find in this discussion we end up confusing two issues:

 

Accepting responsibility and Implementing responsibility.

 

responsibility does not matter but it doesI have no doubt this administration will implement some things that will be good <I am just not sure at what expense … as I have written several times>

 

But as any leader worth a shit will tell you … in order to most effectively implement, particularly change, you need to accept responsibility, earn the trust in the responsibility and ultimately align people in a direction. Then you will be judged fairly in the ‘first year in office.’ He is showing he has never run a real organization before.

 

In business terms … he just got promoted to a fragmented organization in which one department adores him. This is exactly what happens when a sales EVP gets promoted to CEO of a service driven organization. Sales is known for saying whatever they need to say to make the sale … and the rest of the organization gets stuck fixing it or making it work. A good leader in that position stands up and lays out his guiding principles, his vision for what he wants to do and asks <yes, ASKS> everyone to contribute and give it a chance. A good leader says “if we all move forward, point out what needs to be fixed as we move forward, we can do this.”

 

A good leader knows if you do not prime the pump attitudinally … accept the responsibility … you are destined for a dysfunctional bitchy organization.

 

He should give three speeches. Not taped. Not tweeted. Speeches.

 

  • Explain his campaign rhetoric. “I may not say the right thing every time but apply this filter with everything because my intent always remains “x” …” <note: albeit I tend to believe he has no idea what he is saying in some incomprehensible word salad>

 

  • Explain his vision. <and I really do not care if it is economic at the expense of other shit … just state it>.

 

  • Explain change management. Any leader worth a shit will warn people of what is coming. If he plans on doing a lot in 100 days … warn everyone. If he wants to set some expectations for year one. Tell everyone. Any good leader knows you purposefully set the ‘judge me by’ goalpost … because if you do not everyone will judge you differently.

 

In addition … if he does this he calms global parties who are now scrambling to do their own thing. He doesn’t just need a ‘year to judge’ internally, domestically, he needs to calm global partners now.

 

He can do all of his now and stop the ‘fear’ and divisiveness <but he has not people response to changechosen to do so>.

 

And he needs to do it NOW because Obama is so well respected by the majority of USA and the world … and he is acting so differently from Obama … he needs to show people the bridge. Any good leader knows, if you are significantly different from the leader you are replacing, you need to calm some employees … and manage the excitement of others.

 

I don’t ‘give’ a leader anything.

I expect a good leader to lead.

 

And maybe the worst? He doesn’t even seem to understand the repercussion of his style. He assumes he has been crowned and everyone will automatically respect & trust <despite the fact he had a crappy reputation running his own department in the business> and he is oblivious to how his words divide and not unite.

 

He may be an excellent transaction dealer. And I hope he is.

Because he absolutely sucks as a leader.

 

Anyway.

 

I will continue to try and watch all the news stations and read shit online when I can <usually when I am sitting on an exercise bike in the gym and can watch CNN, MSNBC & Fox at the same time> … but Fox is a little tough to swallow most of the time.

 

I think much of the conversation is all stupid.

 

I think conservatives laughing at liberals is stupid.

I think liberals laughing at conservatives is stupid.

 

It’s all stupid because we all want the same thing … some just like different tactics than others. And getting angry over tactics is … well … stupid.

trump-welcome-to-the-circus-debate

But I think Trump is the stupidest because a good leader would have resolved all of this already … and he has done nothing.

 

And I am too tired of talking about how twitter is not a main communication tool <especially for a leader>, that Trump does not know how to lead, that his main go-to tactic is to appeal to people’s fears & doubts, and that I worry his personal opinions are more important than trying to appeal, and benefit, 320 million people.

 

But I will keep talking to whomever will listen about this until we make good progress and get what we should expect from our leaders.

communications, advertising & the battle for truth

December 6th, 2016

 

everybody needs what i am selling deserve life

————————–

 

“Forget words like ‘hard sell’ and ‘soft sell.’

That will only confuse you.

 

Just be sure your advertising is saying something with substance, something that will inform and serve the consumer, and be sure you’re saying it like it’s never been said before.”

 

=

David Ogilvy

 

———————

 

“If you try to comprehend air before breathing it, you will die.”

 

=

Mark Nepo

 

—————

 

“Seeking truth is a full time job.

Communicating truth is a purpose in Life.

Embrace that truth and your Life will be significantly more complicated, but significantly more rewarding.”

 

=

Bruce McTague

 

——————–

 

Well.

 

Communicating has always been a tough gig but in today’s world it has taken on liaran increased challenge.

 

I scan headlines in magazines and online and I cannot see one topic being discussed, one industry or any one group of influential type people that isn’t under attack by ‘lack of trust’ or, in other words, ‘liars.’

 

What that means is anything you are communicating isn’t starting from a commodity standpoint <all facts and truths are created equal> but rather you are already in a hole trying to climb out of ‘prove to me this is not a lie.’

 

Truth has never had a more difficult challenge than today. This may sound odd because common sense suggests truth is truth and, unvarnished, stands clear of any and all clutter as … well … truth.

Unfortunately that is not … well … true.

Truth, more often than not, is a wallflower and not the one breakdancing in the middle of the room. The schlub doing the crazy dance alone, being watched by everyone, is more likely a lie or a semi/partial truth. You have to coax truth to the dance floor. Someone has to bring it out into the audience and permit it to be seen.

 

Truth telling is hard work. It is not for the faint of heart. Seeking truth is a full time job <which most people, frankly, just do not have the time to do as they do their paid full time job>.

And communicating truth has to be a purpose in one’s life in order to meet the onslaught of untruths, purposeful ignorance, unintended ignorance, semi-truths and … well … cynicism.

 

To be clear.

 

I do not believe we are in some ‘post truth world.’

Nor do I believe what someone said “there are no facts anymore.”

 

Facts are facts and truth is truth.

There may be some confusion around this but … of all industries … advertising and marketing communications people had sure as shit better be fucking clear on this … or they are in deep shit.

 

Anyone in the professional communications business had better be absolutely fucking clear that communicating today ain’t like communicating yesterday … or they are in deep shit.

 

While I believe business, in general, benefits if they start on day one embracing the thought they are in the decommoditization business <rather than in the ‘uniqueness business’> I believe communications would benefit by embracing the thought they are in the ‘establishing truths’ business.

 

Look <part 1>.

 

Advertising, marketing and all of professional communications is in a challenging position. Challenging in that businesses spend money on marketing & advertising most typically to sell shit. Therefore its main goal is to … well … sell nothing in boxes business selling stuff capitalismshit.

 

This means that if I represent a product and its main buying audience is white, male & blue collar <or pick any demographically based segment> … I am going to use imagery and words that will appeal to them <sometimes to the detriment to other audiences who are less likely to buy your shit>.

 

Now.

 

Of course you want to do it with style and substance and some sense of responsibility <not be stupid>. So any advertising person with any chops <any good> will figure out a way of not doing the stupid shit to sell shit.

Even then … your audience is your audience and while we would like to suggest everything is made to be created with a larger purpose of ‘bettering the world’ … to a business who only has maybe $1000 to market something <or some finite budget amount> that $1000 is spent on selling shit and not ‘bettering the world.’

 

Simplistically … you sell to the people who will buy or have bought.

 

Simplistically … you sell to those people who will buy in the most effective way so that they will actually buy.

 

I say hat because someone on the outside looking in can take apart imagery & words and make some very valid points with regard to the kinds of messages they send … but marketing people & advertising people are under a lot of pressure to sell shit. And, remember, they are in the service business … they ultimately do not do anything but ‘strategically create persuasive creations’… and a business makes the decision on whether what they create will actually be produced and put in front of people.

 

And here is where the communications folk can get a little sideways. They focus on imagery & words & ‘attention’ with the intent to gain interest … not specifically sell shit. And they ignore truth as … well … too complicated & too complex. And it is quite possible we communications folk may have gotten away with that in the past, but in today’s world, sure as shit, you better be grounded in hard, clear truth or you are gonna get screwed.

 

Look <part 2>.

 

In the good ole days … truth was appreciated, but aspirational sold.

 

sell hope i canWell.

 

That was before we all got a good dose of cynicism and started drinking from the fountain of untruths.

Messages are everywhere and simply suggesting you were offering truth because “you’re too clever to fall for manipulation” gave people permission to at least think you were offering truth.

No more my friends.

While aspirational drives value, lack of truth suffocates value into nothingness.

This doesn’t mean there will not be a boatload of products and services who make a sale standing on the superficial surface of irrelevant, but appealing, value. But that will be the geography populated by the hacks.

This truth thing may not be a battle which some people want to fight. And that is okay. But someone has to or the entire industry will become … well … irrelevant. If no one tells the truth then why would I listen to anyone.

I, personally, am not suggesting ditching aspirational but I am suggesting that truth, communicating the truth in a away that people actually believe it is true, is the key to future success.

 

Look <part 3>

 

I have worked in and out of the marketing and advertising business for <yikes> over 30 years so I feel like I have some qualifications to comment on the industry.

 

Everyone on the outside of the advertising business looking in thinks those creating the advertising think about shit that … well … truthfully … advertising people actually never waste their time thinking about.

 

And everyone inside the advertising business thinks about more shit than people outside the advertising could ever imagine they think about.we all scream for the truth

 

Suffice it to say I could gather up examples of advertising using material over 20 years and make pretty much any point I want to make – good, bad, absurd, true, untrue, semitruthful, smart, insightful or blatantly uninsightful.

 

Anyway.

 

Here is a communications truth — perception is not reality.

 

The perception is that advertising makes shit up, makes stupid vapid shit and says nothing <as much as possible> and if they do say something it is a lie and, ultimately, they try and make people feel something <to sell>.

 

Nothing could be further from the truth <with the non hacks>.

 

The problem in advertising typically arises when the ad creators struggle to articulate the benefit <or convince themselves that it is ‘non differentiating’ and then seek to ‘differentiate’ in some form or fashion>.

 

It then can unravel from there because the ‘go-to’ phrase at this point in time is ‘do something brave’ … or ‘entertaining’ or ‘edgy’ <notice nowhere in there is “smart, insightful, thoughtful, truth”>.

 

Sure.

 

Great advertising messaging always is, and will be, imbued with some sense of courage.

 

Why?

 

Because if you want to be distinct you will not please everyone.

Because if you want to tell the truth you will not please everyone.

 

on-top-of-the-worldThe hack advertising people use the ‘do something brave’ phrase indiscriminately to justify bad advertising.

 

The good advertising people use this phrase to do something smart in order to not be different but stand ABOVE everyone else.

 

Yup.

 

Huge difference.

 

Hacks say ‘stand apart.’

 

Non hacks say ‘stand above.’

 

And this is where I imagine articles about advertising should focus their attention on.

 

Why doesn’t the advertising stand above <and not be below what is good & right & untrue>.

 

Advertising should be smart and not talk down to people but actually enable them to rise up to the occasion … and FEEL like they are rising up to engage with that brand or company.

 

Communications should be truthful, regardless whether it is simple or complex, and enable people to be able to FEEL truth in such a way that doubts about that brand or company are swept away.

few thinking and feeling

And it all has to be done with an eye toward ‘decommoditizing’ or being distinct in some meaningful way <because truth, in and of itself, is not a differentiator>.

 

Advertising cannot be dull and uninspired … and you cannot use a small budget as an excuse.

 

In fact … the truth is that a limited budget is typically what drives innovative advertising.

Yup.

Inspired smart creativity tends to make each dollar be more effective <hence you can live with a smaller budget>.

 

In other words … a smart, insightful, relevant, entertaining ad will be more memorable than a typical ‘category using sacred cow imagery’ ad therefore it needs to be seen less for the same effect.

 

Oh.

And if you add in ‘truth’ <in a way in which you aren’t just communicating it but people actually BELIEVE it>, your communications is more memorable, more believable, can be seen less for the same effect … and is, of course, of higher value.

 

By the way … smart means not any obvious photoshopping or any exaggerated ridiculous claims or just plain inaccurate information or anything fluffed up or untrue.

 

By the way … smart means avoiding stereotypes, typecasting and idiotic generalizations and lies.

 

Note to advertising people:

We can see through those slimy tactics. Realize consumers are people … people who are smart and informed.

Make me aware of a product.

Educate me.

Relate to me.

Tell me the Truth.

 

Regardless.

 

 ===

 

“A dull truth will not be looked at.

An exciting lie will.

 

That is what good, sincere people must understand. They must make their truth exciting and new, or their good works will be born dead.”

 

==

Bill Bernbach

 

——-

 

Truth is truth.

 

Lies are lies.

 

Responsibility is responsibility.

 

And if you do not accept your responsibility to tell the truth as excitingly and politics lies and truth and repeatingconvincingly as you possibly can … lies will win.

 

If you choose to vulgarize the society or brutalize it … or even ignore it <all under the guise of ‘understanding what the consumer wants’> … society will lose.

 

I honestly do not despair when I look at business in today’s world … or even marketing & advertising behavior.

 

I get aggravated.

 

No.

 

I get angry.

I get angry that we are not accepting the responsibility.

I get angry that we are not strong enough to accept the burden.

I get angry that many do not even presume the responsibility is within their purview.

 

Business, whether you like it or not, shapes society. Business, whether you like it or not, shapes truth.

 

What we do matters.

 

Selling stuff doesn’t matter.

It only matters as a means to an end.

 

What really matters is the shaping of attitudes <which ultimately shapes behavior>.

 

Far too often by simply focusing on ‘selling stuff’ the byproduct of our ignoring the larger responsibility is that we brutalizing society in some form or fashion – in this case and in this time and place … it would be truth we are brutalizing.

 

Am I suggesting that selling stuff or being profitable isn’t important? Of course not.

 

All I am suggesting is that HOW you sell stuff and be profitable matters.

And that you have a responsibility in HOW you do what you do.

 

Because HOW you do things impacts society.

It shapes society. It can vulgarize or brutalize … or invigorate or instill good.

 

HOW you do things has a power way beyond simply you or what you do in that moment.

 

HOW you do things is a pebble dropping into a pond.

 

In the end.

 

I will not argue that all advertising is good.

I will not argue that all professional communications is good.

A lot of it is shit.

 

But I will argue that good communications & advertising people, not hacks, are smart and tend to create smart insightful educating communication pieces that avoid the trite and stereotyping imagery and focus on telling the truth, if not A real truth, rather than lie or some semi truth.

 

I would also argue that good communications & advertising people, not hacks, have the opportunity to save truth in today’s society.

telling-truth-piss-you-off

I think many of the world’s institutions are embattled but the one that concerns me the most is Truth.

The institution of truth is under siege.

I can honestly say I don’t think most who are attacking truth are trying to facilitate its downfall … most are simply unclear what is truth and what is not. I believe anyone in any position of influence should be proactively assuming the burdensome responsibility of telling and protecting truth <that will come at an expense> but today … I think the professional communications industry should be at the forefront of the battle.

 

Why?

 

They get paid to communicate. If they cannot figure out how to effectively communicate truth, who can?

 

They must … must make their truth exciting and new, or their good works will be born dead. Uhm. And lies will win.

seek_truth

===

About the author:

I am a 50something who believes my generation hollowed out Truth by simplistically suggesting truth was best told through simplicity.

Truth is neither simple nor hollow.

I have had one framed picture in my office since maybe 2000: Seek Truth.

 

the death of the mall and a divided america

November 28th, 2016

  just-came-from-the-mall

=====

 

The impression left after watching the motions of birds is that of extreme mobility – a life of perpetual impulse checked only by fear.

 

—-

Richard Jefferies

 

======

 

“My fundamental philosophy is that you owe it to society to transfer to them any knowledge you have that might be useful.”

 

—-

Leroy Hood

 

=====

 

Well.

 

Because USA just faced is heinous tradition called ‘black Friday’ <a made up sales day to encourage people to buy things they most likely don’t need under the guise of ‘early start for Christmas shopping’ — this is a made up day beliefs divide people doubt unitescreated by retail sellers solely to sell more shit early> I started thinking about how the ‘death of malls’ was a reflection of the American rural/urban divide.

 

Ok.

 

Maybe the death of malls is a metaphor.

 

Regardless.

 

A long time ago I wrote about the convenience economy. Malls were most likely the first step into the larger convenience economy <it had actually existed with the general store – one stop for everything – but malls took it to a new level>. Under the guise of ‘saving time’ convenience and consumption are inextricably linked.

This meant that as malls crept out of suburbia and into rural America it warped the existing attitudes & behaviors affecting the soul of what made rural America <and I could argue what actually made America> what it was – in terms of time, convenience, consumption and , unfortunately, economy.

 

Joan Didion wrote in 1979: “malls became cities in which no one lives but everyone consumes.”

 

Now?

 

Malls are almost like ancient ruins … and yet the population still lives in the ruins.

That is what happens when no one consumes but they still have to live.mall-dead-rising

 

Sprawling malls were a natural product of the post world war 2 as Americans with cars and money spread to the suburbs.

They were thrown up at a furious pace as shoppers fled cities, peaking at a few hundred per year at one point in the 1980s <Paco Underhill author of Call of the Mall: The Geography of Shopping>.

 

From there they naturally expanded their reach farther into rural America spreading their ‘urban wares’ to a population who could only have seen those things on tv up until that point.

 

This all came at a cost.

 

Yeah.

 

Rural America paid a price for large retail … the mom and pop small business and down town general stores lost the battle … and a part of the soul & heart of rural America was also lost to malls and large retail. Yeah. In the short term it appeared like jobs were created, tax revenue increased and the local economy improved.

 

And, yet, in gaining short term economic reasons … culture was lost, some values were lost and … well … local ideas were lost.

 

This has left us in a farther divided America as malls crashed and burned not only leaving a mall overstock in their wake but as they left <because economics writing-on-the-walls-of-the-mallsuggested they should step back from rural America> they left a ‘less grounded’ landscape behind.

 

Malls tore out the soul of middle America and never replaced it with anything worthwhile while there … and never placed anything behind when it left.

 

I have driven across the United States several times. I have seen small businesses in places I could never imagine and seen dying, or dead, shopping malls dotting the landscape most often in locations where there are severe socioeconomic shifts. I don’t know the exact numbers but the last ones I saw suggested that closings of existing malls will number somewhere between 15 to 50%.

 

It is fairly easy for me to suggest that while artificially bloating the financial economy when there  … their actual success was dependent upon the slicing, dicing and stripping away what was built up over generations.

I would suggest, on a side, note, we have been doing this to rural America for years <not just with malls>.

 

And I don’t have to suggest because it is fact … that the departure of malls from rural areas has simply exposed the obscenity of their existence. The holes they leave behind  showcase the years of neglect, exploitation, abuse, poor local government decisions, and short-sighted policy which transformed a thriving rural landscape into a hollowed out long list of small towns and cities.

 

In many of these areas their existence had masked a steady decline <which they had actually contributed to> and their departure put a spotlight on a way of Life shutting down <albeit leaving a population which doesn’t want to shut down yet>.

 

I would also say, sadly I may add, that spotlight forced a local population to face a pervasive sense of fear and loss.

terror lose meaningful

Having done it … I can say that just driving through town after town of dead malls, closed factories, shuttered stores, abandoned mines, empty schools, roads in need of repair and empty homes … and you can feel their loss.

 

If you want to get a sense of divided America explore the decline of malls.

 

Simplistically, Malls are a reflection of eating our own. Just as online shopping is making brick & mortar increasingly irrelevant the malls made the once thriving local business communities less relevant.

 

But their cost is even deeper than that.

 

The economy has fundamentally shifted because technology has decreased the costs of entry and performance by businesses. This means business models are quickly shifting because of changes coming faster than ever before.

 

For example.

 

Would you invest in a factory that made anything but it took 3 years to build the factory? …..I’m guessing no, because how would you know the thing would still be in demand?

 

Or that your method of manufacturing would still be the most cost effective way?

Or that your raw materials would be affordable to make the product at a certain price?

Or that your labor costs would allow you to hit certain price points?

 

 

What this means is that even a rural economy seeking to refind it’s ‘American mojo’ is faced with an uncertain business landscape which makes it more difficult for a rural community to rebuild a successful local economy based on what they knew, and know, is successful.

american hands

And, yeah, this is more than about money.

 

Because, yeah, rebuilding a thriving rural economy is not just about money & profits & jobs. It is also about heart & soul & the intangibles.

 

We urban/suburban folk forget that.

 

Let me be unequivocally clear <and I hope some politician reads this> … rural American prosperity is not just found in the wallet but in the soul.

 

In other words … I can place a general store in a small community and the owner doesn’t dream of wealth beyond anything he/she can dream of but rather comfortable earnings and a gathering place so that the community thrives.

 

Our ‘urban objectives’ are often different than ‘rural objective.’

 

And maybe that is part of my point on the divide in America.

 

Equality comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

 

An urban idea, malls, stripped parts of America of its soul. And what that meant is while rural America could always stand tall with unequal, as in better, values & soul versus the high falutin’ intellectual urban/suburban folk … malls stripped them of the main portion of what permitted them to remain ‘equal’ even though incomes may not have been equal.

 

Look.

 

I disagree with some experts who suggest that retail often mirrors the natural life cycle of the surrounding community and it is about demographics.

I believe retail is an organism in and of itself driven by profit not by humanism.

 

And I believe retail, at its heart, is driven by an urban ‘heartbeat’ which is constantly trying to reapply it to rural America <it is fairly rare to have a rural idea expand to dominate urban>.

 

I say that because we don’t talk about it often but ‘progress’, which is most often associated with a healthy economic metabolism, is mostly visible in urban/suburban America and not rural America.

 

Which is … well … kind of nuts.

 

Why? Because I could easily argue that, in a stark judgement, that America’s achievements were built upon rural America … and, yet, the rising levels of material well-being, education and health actually reside in urban/suburban America.

 

Add in some fairly shocking statistics on life expectancy and social mobility and the crumbling mall retail structure in Middle America becomes symbolic for many of their woes.

 

We all know that while the economy may not be robust that wealth is certainly being generated, and often displayed in some gaudy ostentatious ways <see Trump tower as an example> and amazing technological innovations have become common in households and certainly prosperity exists, though almost exclusively in a sliver of America, all of which suggests that the economic infrastructure is visibly changing even while it is semi-working.

 

And by ‘semi-working’ I go back to malls as an example … it is mostly a system of cannibalism. It is a system and society that is devouring its own.

Urban America has been picking prosperity from the slowly decaying carcass of rural America. This carcass is symbolic of the hollowing out of rural America.

 

For some long time now, the economy has been driven by investment banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, real estate developers, insurance goliaths and a whole range of companies and industries that make nothing but rather make money off of money.

 

In the end.

 

I purposefully used ‘stripping’ and ‘cannibalism’ and ‘eating our own’ because that is what we have done to a significant portion of America … and, more significantly, a portion of America who believes they created America AND believes if anyone would ask them … they could help rebuild America.

 

I use malls, and their death, as an example of what we ‘innovators of progress’ have done. And while many of us may have acted with real best intentions … it america one heartbeatwas a failure. And, worse, we have failed a significant portion of America.

 

We don’t owe portions of America because we have taken away their malls … we owe them the assistance to let them rebuild the America they know should be built.

 

And am I suggesting going ‘back’? Only partially.

The general stores will most likely never return. The mines will never reopen. Some schools are shuttered forever. But to rebuild a community you give them their soul back first & foremost. Anything built with soul will make America great and will last for generations.

Enlightened Conflict