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Here are just some of the issues..

  1. Political pressures from trustees, parents, and others.
  2. Student protests on a whole range of issues.
  3. Dealing with extreme speakers and new attitudes about freedom of speech.
  4. Staff no-shows in food preparation and building and grounds services.
  5. Overall supply chain shortages.
  6. Maintaining enrollment and making growth decisions.
  7. Resolving on-line versus face-to-face teaching issues.
  8. Pressures to change academic freedom and tenure policies.
  9. Increasing general criticisms of “the administration.”
  10. New academic curricular and advising challenges.
  11. Changing health and mental services needs.
  12. Addressing climate change controversies.
  13. Dealing with the dramatic influences of social media.
  14. “Critical race theory” and “cancel culture” pressures on the curriculum.
  15. Responding to working from home requests.
  16. Whether or not to add professional certification to academic degree programs.
  17. What to do about mounting athletics issues and problems.

Strong institutions are the bedrock of democracies.

Government, community, and even international institutions, undergird democracies.

This is why autocrats immediately attack, weaken, and eventually eliminate strong institutions.

Autocrats also activate partisans on boards of institutions… to influence operational decisions.

They also constantly attack, and eventually seek to control the free press.

So to prevent autocracies, we must strengthen all our institutions.

Build Back Better” is a tongue-twister. Biden needs a stronger theme.

Words matter. And when it come to image-building a strong visual presence matters even more.

He needs “photo-ops” that connect directly with voters. Happily playing around in a Hummer is not strong enough.

He must explain more directly the consequences of his opponents’ behaviors… on voting rights, their silence on infrastructure, their behavior on “the border,” etc.

He must repeat the benefits of his infrastructure plan over and over, and not talk so much about its cost.

He must also let events dictate where he must show-up and when to speak out. He appears to be working too much from past experience… and not current realities.

He needs short talking points which he repeats over and over, points that his staff and other democrats can also use.

Polls show the president’s support is fading. These suggestions might help.

The founding fathers feared that a pure democracy might result in unprepared candidates holding high office.

So they created an “electoral college” based on each state appointing qualified delegates to review the election and submit their votes.

Ben Franklin explained… “You have a Republic, if you can keep it!”

Years later, the social media revolution would bring serious disruptions to this Republic’s innovative experiment.

This meant that a control-obsessed political party would now have the communication tools necessary to limit its opponent’s voter access… and could do so state-by-state.

If that party does not like the election outcome, it can also claim widespread voter fraud… and then ask selected key states to modify and resubmit their “electoral college” votes.

This is how one control-obsessed political party can actually bring about an autocracy in the U.S.

When the “winds of autocracy” are blowing there is a “clear and present danger” for all democracies…

Here is how to recognize these “winds”: (1) Political parties inside government are becoming hopelessly polarized; (2) And one of those parties is clearly focused on gaining and holding control… showing comfort with autocratic ideas; (3) That same party is also taking action to control access to voting; (4) At the same time, it is having success at gaining influence over the courts.

Autocracy “winds” require bold responses: (1) Saving democracy must become the priority; (2) The words and deeds of the leader at the top must demonstrate this priority… personally “showing up” on the front lines; (3) Staff alone cannot handle issues of this magnitude; (4) Other priorities must be set aside when democracy is at stake; (5) Messaging overall must change; (6) The leader at the top must personally confront the control-obsessed party with the specific consequences of what they are doing; (7) All champions of democracy must weigh-in now… and do their part.

But danger might continue: Someone politically experienced, with an understanding of American history, and a healthy ego, could build on this moment… and succeed later.

For example, was January 6th in the U.S. just a dress rehearsal for others who might come later?

Television and social media produced dramatic changes…

Everything changed… from families to individuals, to politics.

It quickly became a world of confusion, and “chronic uncertainty.”

Experts lost their credibility, truth and facts became almost impossible to find.

What seemed “good for me” gradually became the primary reason to support a political candidate.

Social media, potentially a tool for national unity, became a political weapon and divided the country.

This is how the dynamics of the Internet and “digital politics” enabled many democracies around the world to became dictatorships . Democracies are in peril everywhere… including the U.S.

These days, making news more entertaining sells. This is especially true for TV news.

The camera “likes” drama better than details.

Experience has taught that faster and more dramatic talk increases audience interest and numbers.

This means that eventually news stories get shorter… making room for more fast-paced stories.

Viewers must now go to major newspapers and other media for “context” and depth.

Ultimately, anchors are selected, groomed, and often changed, based on popularity.

Other personalities also appear to help boost ratings. Many from entertainment and sports.

What once was defined as “human interest,” now evolves into end-of-program “happy talk.”

CBS Mornings move to Times Square, and the anchor’s delivery-style on NBC Nightly News are excellent places to observe how commercial temptations are changing TV news.

With the help of an experienced crisis communication professional, every executive team in all types of organizations should: (1) Realize that personal experience at other times and places may not be sufficient. (2) Understand that each new crisis situation requires new analysis. (3) Brainstorming action possibilities is critically important. (4) And only then can completely relevant and empathetic messaging be developed and delivered.

Working over many years with university and nonprofit executives, I found that what they want to say during a current crisis is always based on their past experiences. My challenge always was get them to realize that a new crisis requires new thinking, and that past experiences may or may not be helpful.

When it came to Afghanistan, Biden’s crisis analysis team should have taken these basic factors into account before deciding what to say: The economy gradually improved during this 20 year period. The Afghan government often did help to stabilize the situation. Many successful small businesses were started. Non-profits made human rights advances. Many Afghans, especially girls, received an education and embarked on meaningful careers. Thus, many people thought the country was stabilized with the presence of only a small number of U.S. and other troupes.

With the guidance of crisis communication professionals, final exit plans and official messaging should have been designed that empathetically acknowledged these factors. Some of the easy to anticipate criticisms might also have been inoculated.

AND… shouldn’t this kind of current analysis and fresh thinking approach also be applied to all of Biden’s urgent crises?

Media revolutions change everything… including how quickly the world becomes aware of every political promise. Today, news events often require a change of plans.

Protecting human rights is a core American value. It no doubt led the U.S. into staying in Afghanistan too long.

But Biden’s rapid exit was a mistake. Training the Afghan military, providing wartime equipment, and positioning a few thousand special forces to oversee operations, was holding off the Taliban.

I believe President Biden could have made good on his campaign promise by slowing things down to stabilize the country, and then by planning a more gradual exit.

Withdrawing was a good idea. Doing it so fast was a big mistake.

Democracies require strong and stable institutions to survive.

Media revolutions change most everything. Can people, politics, religion, education, and institutions ever be the same?

Universities today are adjusting to the vicious impact of the pandemic. How many will ever be strong again?

Governments have become hopelessly partisan. Can they ever become bipartisan problem-solvers again?

Curriculum decisions are being made by legislators. Will education policy and practice ever be returned to educators?

Ministers are trying to bring back worshipers on Sundays. How many COVID-19 losses will become permanent?

Cults have become homes for extremists. How much of a threat will they become in the future?

Zoom allowed people to work from home. How many problems are in store for the workplace?

Stable democracies simply require strong organizations and institutions. And dictatorships simply destroy them.