Archive for October, 2018

A recent program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, cosponsored with the Bob Schieffer College of Communication at TCU, explored the theme “Promoting Democracy and America’s Global Leadership.” While the program examined the news of the day, it also demonstrated how organizations are able to continue promoting a more traditional idea of America, even when the administration in power is not.

Susan Glasser, staff writer for The New Yorker, moderated a conversation with Daniel Twining, President of the International Republican Institute, and Derek Mitchell, President of the National Democratic Institute. And while the names of these organizations obviously convey a partisan bent, the conversation that evening clearly demonstrated that both organizations continue to promote very traditional ideas of America.

Just imagine the impact that concerned university presidents, business executives, NGO chief executives, executive directors of nonprofit, and active volunteers can have… all still operating effectively in today’s America. By merely promoting their cultures, values, visions, and societal initiatives they demonstrate their freedom, and the essential role they play in American enterprise. In fact, these institutions and leaders are what really make America great, and truly distinctive in the world.

We must therefore encourage everyone to take every opportunity to speak out on behalf of democracy and our institutions. We must encourage our friends to do it. And we must let journalists know that we expect the same from them. Telling more success stories about American institutions and individuals will provide much-needed context for our daily diet of negative news.

And word-of-mouth is still our most powerful form of communication. In today’s digital world it’s called “buzz.” But no matter the name, it remains super powerful. So get out there… and keep talking!

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The main lesson of the Brett Kavanaugh battle is that mean-spirited politics, extreme partisanship, and fear-mongering leadership too often lead to seriously divided communities, a lingering climate of anger, and periodic shootings which often grow into widespread violence. This one-sided victory for some has divided our nation even more.

I informed my readers in my last post (Lesson 455) that I was taking several weeks off to refresh my thinking about the mess in Washington. My reason was that more and more people were telling me they were turning off the political chaos just to preserve their mental health.  

I was discouraged by the endless Trump-generated confusion. Republicans were focused only on winning in the legislature. Some were adopting the president’s autocratic style of “attack and divide” leadership. Democrats were behaving as partisans in their own reactionary way. And no one was championing the kind of American values that could unite the nation. So when I began hearing about people turning off to save their sanity… it made me think that they might actually be part of a larger unhappy, silent majority.

I first worked on the political predicament, and concluded that a total “system correction,” was needed.

It seemed to me that the only system correction that could work would require unhappy Republicans, non voters, minorities, legal immigrants, energized women, young people, and discouraged others, to vote for democratic candidates. If enough democrats won, this kind of shock might result in the silent majority becoming visible enough to force both parties to re-think their purposes, redraw their districts, debate their ideologies with mutual respect, and govern collaboratively.

Realizing this might not happen, I began to study the feasibility of drowning out the negativity of Washington with positive voices about American society and institutions.

Imagine the collective communication power of institutional leaders, business executives, NGOs, social services, educators, artists, musicians, journalists, clergy, foreign policy experts, allies, traditional Republicans, pragmatic democrats, independents, immigrants, minorities, and more! Apart from political extremism, America is alive and well.

Maybe my many years communicating and marketing institutions will yield some clues about how to accomplish telling this story. I will explore the possibilities in future blogs, other writings, and meetings with all levels of leaders and learners.      

This could get interesting. I hope you will join in.

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