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Say Anything

Spiritual Stew

Say Anything


I just read an account of how Trump is constantly on the phone to congresspeople and loyalists, much more than his predecessors. He is cajoling, gently intimidating, trying to bargain, demanding loyalty, or just plain gossiping. This, combined with his regular shotgun of tweets, shows a man with prodigious communicative output. On the other side of the equation, he rarely listens and never reads, but let's give the devil his due, his output is fabulous.

The "shoot from the hip" say anything model of presentation has earned him points for authenticity even when his communication turns out to be incorrect, mean, or just plain prideful lying. This may be a token of a basic breakdown in modern political discourse in which everyone is presumed to be self-centered and corrupt and anyone who presents anything else must be posing and untrustworthy.

The effect of the constant communication on his political foes and for much of the public is a constant angry outrage that produces rhetoric that simply reinforces the presumptions of the right by sounding even more pietistic and hypocritical.

The 'high road' didn't seem to help any of his opponents in the 2016 primaries and somehow just seems weak to those who champion strength because of their fear and prejudice. It's not just sticking to moral values anymore, it's capturing the news cycles of the press and the processing cycles of the listening humans.

The lessons for the left from his style suggest that they too need to learn how to constantly communicate. Granted, they don't have the bully pulpit(!) that Trump has, but they can still put out press releases to news outlets that are weary of schoolyard trumpeting. This may mean a small sacrifice in the complexity and depth of the notions propagated, but they have plenty of that to go around already.

I sometimes counsel new ministers not to propose just one new thing to a congregation. If you propose three or four at once, it will be harder for any person to oppose all of them and you are bound to have one gather momentum and flourish. If not, it still looks like you are really trying. The additional lesson of the current administration is that we still need to market the ideas more than we imagined because there are no 'self-evident' truths anymore.