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When someone enters a primary election late, or when a candidate begins to emerge as significant, the news media will naturally begin to investigate their past. News professionals will describe this practice as essential and responsible journalism. But it’s also great “copy!” Aggressively investigating the past of political candidates always energizes the business side of news.

It is therefore very important for media consumers to understand that the same media revolutions that created our current state of chaos and confusion will also make it impossible to be sure that investigative journalism will uncover the “real truth” about the past.

Choosing the most reliable information sources possible has become critically important. After all, it’s possible that past transgressions were settled at the time, and times do change. And some people really do learn from their mistakes.

No matter how many viewers, listeners, readers, and “profits” these investigative news reports generate, in a world of ongoing media revolutions we can never be sure we are learning the whole truth. Getting “close” is the best we can do… and we must even work at that.

A communicator’s view…

Being a liberal has meant that your focus is on the needs of the working class and supporting government programs that provide for their welfare.

Being a conservative has meant that your focus is on making government smaller, keeping welfare programs at a minimum, building a strong military, and having a very dim view of deficit spending.

When a balance of liberal and conservative voices can be found, balanced reporting should be expected.

But Trump’s activities and pronouncements have nothing to do with conservatism. Rather they are filled with lies, gross exaggerations, cruel attacks, and building an autocracy.

It should therefore be the focus of professional journalism to call out this divisive behavior, to remind people that freedom of the press is protected in the constitution, and to explain the founding “idea of America.”

This is not about political ideology. It is about the communication responsibility of the news media. 

I am frustrated with both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats have handled their long primary campaign poorly, and the Iowa caucuses will not fix that. And the Republican party has been reduced to “the party of Trump.”

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander rightly stated that the democrats produced so much factual content that there is little need for witnesses. Other Senators are now agreeing with him. But where they are wrong about acquittal is their assertion that it will properly allow the matter to be decided by the people in an election.

This is wrong because the president has already been attacking and making fun of adversaries, declaring that he alone can fix things, and asking foreign nations to help him get re-elected. This is the behavior of an autocrat, and acquitting him now will only allow this behavior to continue.

I have asked colleagues why they think the Republican Party has become the party of Trump. Fear of him they think is the reason. They listed fear of Trump’s Twitter attacks; fear that voters in their home districts will turn on them; fear that McConnell will take them off his list for PAC and lobby money; and in some cases even fear of physical harm. Maybe some Senate leaders even see a safe and powerful place for themselves in an autocracy.

When watching the State of the Union address, I suggest that you look for and evaluate details. How clearly does he give real substance to his claims? Also compare the tone of this “written for him” speech to his off-the-cuff and rambling pronouncements as president. Who is the real Trump?

This much is clear: With this acquittal the checks and balances system that our founding fathers designed to save us from a dictatorship could be coming to an end.

Are Democrats positioned to win the 2020 election? Here is what the party should have done before the primary season ever began:

  1. The national party should have begun with a “nation branding” statement about the founding of America, their vision for how to unite the country, and steps to recapture world leadership.
  2. Basic talking points should have been written early on about why the current president must not be re-elected. These should have been used by every Democrat all season long.
  3. Each candidate’s team should have been asked to shout the party’s branding statement and never-Trump talking points at every event.
  4. Each team’s plan for addressing bread and butter issues would still have been central to the campaign… i.e. healthcare, climate change, middle class wages, education, safety, energy, etc.
  5. Town hall briefings, covered by news media, should have replaced the crowded and too frequent debates.
  6. National debates between front runners could still be staged later in the spring.
  7. And criteria could still be developed to determine exactly what it will take to win, and also get things done.

Without this kind of coordinated planning can Democrats still get their act together? Maybe so. But my analysis suggests that party leadership and democrats everywhere should be worried.      

Here is a list of comments from an interesting conversation with two lifelong Republicans:

  1. Many of Trump’s actions have helped business: Eliminating environmental restrictions and reduced taxes.
  2. An increase in overall number of jobs happened on his watch.
  3. The economy is doing well overall.
  4. He reduced the number of immigrants, who have been taking our jobs.
  5. He also increased what NATO allies pay for their membership.
  6. As lifelong Republicans, we see no reason to change now.
  7. As for ethical issues, every president has carried lots of baggage. This one is no different.
  8. Every politician that made it to the presidency did so because God had a plan for them. This president supports “right to life,” and speaks in support of Evangelical groups.
  9. But, admittedly, we hate his tweets.

For the above reasons, these Republicans found it easy to overlook:

  1. Asking foreign countries to help with his re-election.
  2. Treating his staff as a dictator would.
  3. Delaying aid to a foreign country that was specifically approved by Congress.
  4. Lying constantly, even when it is not necessary.
  5. Making comments every day that further divide the country.
  6. Increasing the country’s deficit without concern.
  7. Personally profiting from the presidency.
  8. Denying scientific findings about the ravages of climate change.
  9. Declaring that only he can fix the world.  

After winning a hard-fought revolution against a monarch the last thing our founding fathers would want is an autocrat in the White House.  So no matter your politics… and even more than agreeing on impeachment, maybe what we all really need right now is a president who will make good things happen at home and abroad, and never cozy up to dictators.

What you don’t want in any leader!!

  1. A president or CEO who has no understanding of what the founders of your institution or country had in mind.
  2. Thus, has no vision for how to build an exciting future out of why it already is truly exceptional.
  3. Has an authoritarian and/or unethical personal history… and always required constant praise.
  4. Or always assembles a management team that is willing to support him or her no matter what.
  5. Or uses a leadership style based on fanning fear… dividing people into hostile groups.
  6. Or uses cruel language with the intent to intimidate critics and adversaries.
  7. Or refuses to use allies to build mutually beneficial partnerships… believing that only he or she has the answers.
  8. Or is most comfortable in the company of autocrats and dictators… and whose own behavior reflects it.
  9. Or who uses constant lying to confuse news reports… and also divert the public’s attention.
  10. Or who won’t embrace the research, scientific findings, and advice of established experts.

The founding fathers debated the role of religion in their republic at some length. There were many opinions. Eventually, keeping “church and state” separate,” with the promise of freedom of expression for all faiths, was their conclusion. This was based on analyzing the experience of other governments.

Today, the direct involvement of some denominations in the political process is a source of serious social and political division.

Media revolutions have also influenced religious denominations in different ways. For the most part, mainstream denominations have been slow to use television and social media platforms effectively. This no doubt is because the formats of their traditional worship services do not adapt to television and new media easily.

Evangelical groups, however, have been quick to use television and other media platforms to extend their reach to mass audiences, and to bring more vitality to their overall religious experiences.

Indeed, the impact of both media and politics on religion in America has been significant. Even whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays has become an issue.

So whatever your faith, I wish you and your family the very best!