Nancy Pelosi tore up a copy of Trump’s State of the Union Speech in a night of high drama, which began with Trump refusing to shake the Speaker’s hand. Who won the battle of persuasion?
First some principles of memory and persuasion:
- Recency wins the memory wars.
- Conflict is attention.
- Attention is influence.
- People need a “fake because” to resolve cognitive dissonance.
Overlooked in persuasion is memory. What people remember is what they find most persuasive. Read Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions by Carmen Simon.
By ripping the pages up in at the end of the speech, Pelosi won the memory battle. This was a huge win for her.
Conflict is attention. Let Dana White explain this maxim of persuasion:
- “If you take four street corners, and on one they are playing baseball, on another they are playing basketball and on the other, street hockey, on the fourth corner, a fight breaks out. Where does the crowd go? They all go to the fight.”
Everyone will stop whatever they are doing to watch a fight. Pelosi started a fight. We are watching. Which brings us to one of the most well-studied principles of persuasion.
Attention is influence. Whatever you pay attention to is what you consider to be important. Focus on a health problem and you’ll imagine you’re going to die.
Who you pay the most attention to is who you consider to be important. Read Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert B. Cialdini.
Pelosi won the attention war.
Re: Nancy’s tantrum, I think it’s an error for those of us in the America First movement to focus there.
Pres Trump delivered a soaring, inspiring, tour de force tutorial on American exceptionalism.
Let’s focus on this command performance, a triumph of both substance & optics.
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) February 5, 2020
People need a “fake because” to resolve cognitive dissonance. Imagine you hate Trump. He’s vulgar. He’s selfish. He puts himself above the grand old institutions of this nation. You can’t bring yourself to vote for him.
And then you look at your 401k, you see the economy is booming, you see terrorists being destroyed.
You want to vote for him, but you can’t bring yourself to do it. Your image of yourself as a good person (and good people don’t vote for Trump) conflicts with the objectively good results Trump has obtained.
What do you do?
During the State of the Union Speech, a time to bring the country together for respect for the House, Senate, Court, and Presidency, Pelosi makes mean nasty faces. She refuses to stand to honor great African American war heroes, and current war heroes.
And then, and then….
And then Pelosi rips up the State of the Union Speech, shredding any legitimacy she has.
Pelosi's act dishonored the institution and destroyed even the pretense of civility and decorum in the House. If this is the Speaker's "drop the mike" moment, it is a disgrace that should never be celebrated or repeated. In a single act, she obliterated decades of tradition.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) February 5, 2020
You now have what Scott Adams calls your fake because. (Read Loserthink by Scott Adams.)
There are no democratic norms! There is no decency! Everyone is bad!
Pelosi gave you and millions of people a reason to vote for Trump.