With partisan bias running high and political messaging pushing us left and right, how can independent minded citizens fairly assess responsibility for today’s government shutdown? Let’s try looking through the lens of good democratic governance.
Recently I sent an essay, 14 Rules of the Dark Patriarchy, by Larry Pesavento, a psychotherapist specializing in male psychological development, to four smart, highly educated, and enlightened female friends. None of them responded. My wife today explained that women now “just want men to shut up.” The mediator in me always thinks dialogue and collaboration should be central to problem solving, but she says not now; women are tired of hearing from men.
So I write to you, men, to invite your consideration of my friend’s insightful critique of patriarchy Continue reading “Dear Men”
The demoralizing story of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation process really began when political parties started selecting nominees for their opinions rather than their judgment. In our time, it probably started when President Reagan first broke tradition by imposing a “litmus test” he personally applied in interviews with judicial candidates by asking how they would vote on key issues. Since then, nominations have grown increasingly and more overtly partisan until current times when judges’ rulings can be predicted with embarrassing accuracy based on the Party of the president who nominated them. Continue reading “What Happened to Judge Kavanaugh?”
“Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they aren’t really out to get you!” And, just because I’m biased doesn’t mean there aren’t at least two real threats right now to American democracy. Can we see the difference? Continue reading “Beyond bias”
Thirty years of mediating civil litigation taught me two important truths about conflict. First, if collective problem solving is the goal, name calling and bullying are usually counterproductive; minds can best, and maybe only be changed in a context of friendship, or at least low animosity, and voluntary concessions are rarely given under threat. Working within this paradigm calls for trust building and dialogue. But, when domination or destruction is one party’s goal, when relationship and shared interests hold no sway, force can become the only alternative to capitulation or annihilation. Win or lose, the target of such aggression has little choice but to prepare for a fight to the finish. Identifying intentions correctly is critical to choosing which truth to follow.
How do these truths apply to current American politics? Continue reading “It’s how you say it — Part 3: Two Truths”
Liberal friends took me to task for my last posting, “It’s how you say it,” accusing me of over-generalizing, failing to cite examples of media bias against Trump and his administration, and basically sounding like a Trump apologist. True, it would have been more accurate to say about media bias that I see why Trump supporters believe it, rather than “I agree,” but at its heart the post was not intended as a political critique, but rather a lamentation…a plea. Continue reading “It’s how you say it — Part 2: Hate is Not a Strategy”
Is Donald Trump a victim of liberal hatred? He and his supporters, allegedly folks who have felt ignored and isolated by liberal elitism for decades, say the mainstream media ignores his accomplishments and pounds their drums for sustained attention to every conceivable criticism of him, his policies, and his administration. As an avid reader of mainstream media, I think they’re right. Continue reading “It’s how you say it”
America’s gun debate is framed too narrowly to be helpful; advocacy for gun legislation isn’t only about preventing school shootings, nor does it seek to circumvent the 2nd Amendment. Legislation does more than command or prohibit behavior, it formally declares social priorities, what is acceptable to a society and what isn’t. Laws reflect, and in myriad ways shape our social values. Focusing on the cultural implications of gun legislation, or lack of it, provides a deeper and more productive focus for a national conversation. Continue reading “Guns”