How Did We Get Here?

The election is over and many feel relief. No more debates, no more ugly ads, no more vague promises. The outcome of the election shocked the media and the world. One historian compared it to the 1948 election when “Dewey beats Truman” was the famous headline–a premature announcement due to an upset victory by Truman. Should we really have been surprised?

Trump’s success is because he stands for what Washington isn’t. He promises change and a renewal. He certainly isn’t politically correct. People want their country back. They feel ignored. They are ANGRY! While sitting in the Dallas airport last night I saw a poll of voters and over 25% said they were angry with the state of affairs in Washington. Other choices were satisfied, dissatisfied and very dissatisfied. Over a quarter of those polled chose the most extreme emotion. And because of that, they chose an extreme candidate and are able to put aside the less likable things about him. It reminds me of the 1976 movie Network starring Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway and the famous scene, “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.

For me the interesting part isn’t who you voted for– it is the “how did we get here?” question. How did we get to place where we had two candidates few people felt good about? How did we get to a place where our great country can’t field great leaders who want to serve their country? The number one theme in any conversation I had in the last few months with Democrats and Republicans is that they wished there was a better alternative. (Just for the record, I am neither a fan of HRC or Trump but voted nonetheless–for a third party candidate. But this article is not about me; it is about the ability to look objectively at why we got here and I don’t want my words interpreted as supporting one party over another).

An organizational development expert once shared with me that every organization is perfectly designed to achieve it’s outcomes. In other words, if you don’t get the outcome you want, you have to look at the current dynamics of the organization–it’s leaders, it’s systems, and it’s policies–to see why. The answer isn’t the public has gone mad. The answer is the system no longer serves the public. The system serves the system. Trump would never have gotten this far in a world where people aren’t “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”. The last 8 years advanced an agenda that resulted in too many people feeling they had no say. The national debt skyrocketed, racial divides deepened, and the health plan is not financially viable. It is not about who is right or wrong or whether it was wise or not. Regardless, the result was the turnout we saw at the polls with people seeking change from the status quo. Clearly, people feel that the America we have today is not the America they are proud of. In Network, Peter Finch proclaimed not to have the answers to the nations problems but that the solutions start with the people getting angry and making it clear they weren’t going to stand idly by and hide in their living rooms while decisions get made that impact their lives. They had to declare their anger. It seems that is exactly what happened at the polls.

We need a healing agenda. Will we get one? I do not know. I would like to believe that we will take a hard look at what is wrong and be willing to work together to fix it. The solutions for our country won’t come from Washington–not even from Trump. He can stir the pot but he can’t change the law or overturn legislation unilaterally. WE need to decide that we are better together than apart and get back to some basics—caring about each other, taking an active stand for making our communities better by volunteering and contributing what resources we can. We need to coalesce on our similarities, our basic humanity, and not focus on our differences. I offer a few opinions below. You may not agree. But let’s get the conversation rolling and have a discussion about how we can contribute to the solution and not just be mad about the problems.

-We need to know that ALL lives matter–no matter the color, race or religion or uniform. The Constitution’s first three words—We the People—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens.
-We need to respect our nation. We can disagree with its actions but not with its sovereignty. Those who won’t honor our country (in which they choose to live) during its national anthem, in my opinion, are suggesting they would be happier elsewhere. The anthem is an opportunity to show respect for all of the freedoms offered by our constitution and the people who fought for them with sweat and blood–heroes that deserve our gratitude. Differences will always exist but few Americans want to be anything but American. That is what we are praising during the anthem.
-We need to take care of each other. At the end of the day we are a community of people. We ALL need to contribute to making this country great and we ALL need to feel we are respected and valued for our contributions. The law of this land isn’t about the redistribution of wealth–it is about having enough wealth for all. EVERY citizen needs to be able to contribute–to get an education that will make them productive and/or get a hand up when they need it. And in return every citizen should expect to contribute through sweat or financial equity.
-We need to manage our resources and invest wisely in the future. There is no money tree. We need to encourage commerce AND live closer to our means. Our educational system needs an overhaul.

What do you think will heal the nation?

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