You – Making America Great Together

The last marathon I ran was in Sacramento, and the last mile felt harder, slower, and longer than the first 25.1.  It reminds me of this never-ending race.  Wednesday, when it’s over, the question will be:  How will Trump or Clinton help us heal?

Since it’s a democracy, I’d ask:  How will each of us help the country heal?

I have three simple suggestions for me and you, if we don’t want to do this again in 4 years:

  1. Ask serious questions about inclusion. Many Trump followers feel left behind. Many Clinton followers feel marginalized.  This has been a campaign that has spoken — however inelegantly — to those who feel they are not being heard.  Whether the marginalized are “non-college educated white men” or belong to racial, religious or other tribes, they are our citizens.  They are our co-workers, our customers, our service providers. Forget Trump and Clinton for a minute:  Do you and I hear and include them as legitimate members of this country, with legitimate economic and political concerns?
  2. Generate civility as part of the center. As long as we tolerate — and ourselves create – incivility, it will be inflicted upon us.  How’s your dialogue? Is it fair?  When “they go down do you go up?” Tomorrow’s your last day of this campaign.  Will you close on a positive, civil note?
  3. Become more fact-based. My friends Kent and Carol don’t argue facts any more. They bet a dollar and turn to Google to resolve it.  Isn’t it crazy that in this time when facts are more available than ever, ignorance (I’m very much including myself in this) runs so high.  One candidate has had their “fact checking” show falsehoods approximately 15-20% of the time; the other has had approximately 70% of their claims tested as false.  We have the resources to learn – whether about partial birth abortion or global warming, about health care costs or crimes by undocumented people. If politicians of whatever stripe can get away with deception . . . shame on us.  That means turn off Fox and MSNBC “experts” who promise to think for you.  Google to the rescue. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that the two presidential candidates have dumbed things down, but the real question is:  Have we gotten smarter?

There are certainly major systemic issues for us, like too much money in politics, the role of social media, and the disappearance of a trusted media (media: Latin: middle). No Walter Cronkite. No one reading Time magazine. Etc.  Yet, there are a few key things we can all do so that in our democracy, we

Lead with our best selves.

  • You have “hit the nail on the head” with this column.
    I met you many years ago now when you came to Adrian, Michigan for a Big Brothers Big Sisters event. Thanks for your articulate vision on Leadership..although at age 79, I know my best days of leadership are behind me.

  • Thank you, Dan, for taking -and leading us to -the high road in the after election. I’m praying for civility and peace.

  • Thanks Dan! Can I suggest that we also make use of a still important resource, the public library? When you don’t know how to ask your question, or can’t find any answers online, the reference staff at your local library are trained professionals who will hunt down the answers for you. We work hard to remain neutral in our work, whatever our personal opinions may be.
    Despite some talk to the contrary, libraries are still very relevant – and smarter than Siri at finding out what exactly it is you need.

  • Thank you so much, Dan, for such a well-balanced, civil article on what’s been going on for almost a year now.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if our new President and Congress could get together and do what many other countries do, i.e., not let primaries start more than 6 months before a presidential election, and then have the presidential candidates be heard and seen for only 2-3 months…

    Since we’re basically down to sound bites and rhetoric now, rather than good reporting as you said, that should be more than enough time.

  • Civility is something I look for in substance, since it is generally assumed that well behaved, well groomed people are civil. Civility is not something of appearances, but how a person conducts their activities and what they say, or write.

    I have known people who are on the surface, civil, but who are experts are provoking others to act uncivil. They lie, and play mind games. In the news media, what passes as journalism civility is more often loss in recent years. I keep hearing people tell me they cancel their newspaper subscription based on personal knowledge of events, and that they know the newspaper favored one side, usually by only printing what benefits one side, and leaving out what would help the other side. This can look civil when it is read, if a person is otherwise not informed. A terrible ting of the last few decades has been that journalism has lost much of its authority. Facts are weapons, to be used of hidden, or obfuscated.

    I recall one industry spokesperson who said, we have decided to use science a different way. Science, education, journalism and been reduced in their authority. Persons like Glen Beck, and certain captains of industry like the Koch brothers have lead the propaganda effort to discredit what have been our sources of knowledge of centuries. This is a tragedy.

  • At my son’s middle school they actually had the kids voting for Hillary or Trump. I think that is wrong because of Trump’s behavior. No child should be any part of this election because of Trump; what he says, how he acts. Unfortunately-my son voted for Trump.

  • Dan, Thanks for the wonderful post-election suggestions. I just read your RFL this morning (Election Day). As luck would have it, did so 10 minutes after several texts back and forth with my daughter. She is 19 years old, away at college and just voted in her first presidential election. In one of her texts, she talked about the need to be “gracious and civilized” regardless of the outcome; in another she let me know she’s come up with a new slogan: “Let’s make America PEACEFUL again”. Naturally, I just forwarded your RFL message to her. Will do my best to implement your 3 strategies; and encourage all others to do the same. Take care.

  • Concerning your question, “have we gotten smarter?”, no I do not believe we have grown smarter as a country, I think we have become more divisive and credulous throughout this election. Both parties attract people who, like you said, feel marginalized and ignored. Feeling ignored in a country where the individual is supposed to be revered and heard, is unnerving. Our intelligence and reasoning has been replaced by motivated reasoning, i.e emotion-based reasoning that allows us to justify our faulty decision-making. I catch myself projecting negative and absolute comments towards Trump supporters, but this election is not based upon rationality or tradition, it’s based upon the dormant emotions of the “forgotten” individuals finally being surfaced. Unfortunately, Trump has become the voice of these individuals.

    Thank you for a thought provoking afternoon.

  • No, of course, the first question is NOT how will Clinton or Trump help us heal. Was that the question, when Obama won? No, and it isn’t now. We only hear this when republicans win. If Clinton had won, as was ordained, we’d not be talking a bit of “healing.” Amercans aren’t such namby-pambies as you make them out to be, Dan. A few tissues for the liberal losers and we’ll be just fine. The question for President Trump is how quickly and effectively can we assemble the best team possible to implement exactly what he won his mandate on. Then, to construct the policy detail plans – repeal Obamacare, build the Wall, implement huge tax cuts, destroy ISIS, stop the muslim refugee immigration program and making America GREAT again in every way that Obama has made it not great in 8 years.

    • Jon,
      1. Losing the popular vote gives no one a mandate. That is the most foolish thing I have heard today. Reagan had a mandate by the way he trounced Dukakis. Obama had a mandate by the way he beat McCain. Trump has no mandate.
      2. If you want to make “America great again,” you might start — as he has said he will, and I applaud him for it — by bringing people together. (Had he lost he would have likely, by his own suggestion, whined and sued. Hilary — like McCain and Bush and Romney – in defeat spoke to America’s true greatness.)
      3. Gloating is only a way of further dividing. Obama was a pillar of including, cf., Republican FBI director Comey, appointed and vocally supported by the President, even while the latter campaigned like a madman for Hillary Clinton.
      4. If we (Dems) don’t listen, and you (R’s) don’t attempt to include, you will see a worsening of what Trump has created. I predict you will see people harboring “aliens.” You will see thousands arrested at the wall. It’s a time for civility and inclusion, Jon. Be big. Show the way for our President. He needs role models not sycophants.

  • Dan, I’m sorry for your loss but it’s a UUUUGE mandate. 309 electoral votes and victories in Penn, Mich, Ohio and Wisconsin? Held both Houses of Congress, added to governorships and state controlled houses. A clean sweep and historic. Stick a fork in democrats, they’re done for 8 years. Clearly, Americans repudiated liberal policy and Obama’s 8 years and the institutionalized corruption of the Clinton democrat party. Bernie Sanders supporters were the real losers here, don’t you think? They were a casualty of the rigged democrat system that Bernie Sanders tapped into. President Trump rode this sentiment to an historic victory and ultimately to the White House. I think Bernie had a much better chance for victory than Hillary. She was obviously a hopelessly flawed candidate. The reality of this will be hard to sink in. I sympathize with that. But I’m here to lead substantive change to fix the mess liberals have made of America. Lead with your right self and aspire to be a good loser.

    • Jon,
      Thanks for your comments. I disagree about the mandate, but respect your basis for asserting it.
      One of the things I am trying to understand from Trump supporters is what appears to me to be a double standard on truthfulness. The Pulitzer Prize winning Tampa Bay “Politifact” found that 168 out of 331 fact-check statements by Trump were “false” or “pants on fire” (the worst on a six-point scale of veracity). Hillary’s were 36 out of 293. I’m not asking you to speak for all the Trump supporters. I am just curious how YOU reasoned about that. How do we have a rule-of-law, transparent government, a president we are proud of with that track record? Kouzes and Posner, my most admired leadership researchers have asked hundreds of thousands of people: “what are the characteristics in a leader whom you would willingly choose to follow,” they find that “honesty” tops the list – across cultures and demonstrably ahead of all others. So, when you say SHE was a “hopelessly flawed candidate,” I scratch my head and honestly cannot comprehend the apparent double standard. I agree it was the PERCEPTION, but is that your argument? That doesn’t seem to withstand a test of rationality. How DO you think about it?
      In what way am I not being a “good loser?” Or is that a throwaway dig?

  • Dan, a great point and I’m happy to address it. Honesty and truthfulness was a key tenet of victory for President Elect Trump. As you know, your candidate’s negatives in general and truthfulness in specific were WORSE than Trump. The American people saw the entire Clinton email lying fiasco which reminded them of what a Clinton. Bill Saffire, renowned columnist said Bill Clinton was “an unusually gifted liar.” Of course he was impeached for lying. Hillary then took truthlessness “up a notch.” Americans knew that and defeated her with firm mandate. On President Trump’s truthfulness, let’s consider this. Do you doubt his truthfulness that we will implement a huge tax cut, stop illegal immigration, build the wall, destroy ISIS, redo trade bills in favor of America? For this 8 years and in regards to his policy commitments, I submit to all doubters he IS THE truth. Support with some of your self.

    • Jon,
      To answer YOUR question: No, I don’t believe Trump will TRY let alone do all those things. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries some of them. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t. I’m skeptical, “agnostic” as people like to say.
      You completely missed by point about Hillary. I conceded the PERCEPTION about Hillary. About that I agree. People didn’t trust her. That is true about their belief. It doesn’t make their belief true, any more than the world thinking the earth was flat made it flat.
      I think you believe you are rational. Yet, a reasonable person would surely be more concerned about someone who lies over half the time he’s checked — a multiple grossly greater than any other candidate, including Hillary. So you have faith, “belief” as you put it, not reason.
      That’s fine. I have faith, too. I believe God became man. That takes faith. God and man are complete opposites. One omniscient, eternal, universal; and one like me, finite, small, ignorant. It takes faith to believe that God was man.
      So, you believe in Trump (presumably because he reflects some combination of your tribe and your ideas). But your belief that he will tell the truth is certainly not rational.
      I respect your belief. And I remain deeply curious why you and so many voters chose the “belief” that Hillary was lying, and choose not to look at the “facts” that Donald lies all the time.
      I think there is a deeper issue.

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