Archive for the ‘2010 Elections’ Category

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FIGHT VS NURTURE

December 11, 2010

As many know, as election time arrived, I had not been able to resolve my personal concerns I had about Mark Dayton; hence after much angst, I cast my vote for Tom Horner who represented to me, the pragmatist in the middle.  No, I had not converted to a Horner disciple, I merely thought his stand on issues gave us the best chance to move forward in consensus-building to save our state and get us back on track.  I expected Dayton to win, but voted my beliefs and hoped Dayton would then find a place for Horner in his organization.

Through the recount, both Emmer and Dayton behaved as adults – despite Republican Tony Sutton’s diatribes and finally, reprehensible behavior in leading his party to vote several great Minnesota statesmen and former Republican leaders “off his island”.  Ugh to that brand of any political stance! On one hand, it most likely makes Tom Horner ineffective as he is now deemed the spoiler by the Republicans, but at same time, it opens up to Dayton  a wealth of knowledge and advice of those that have been marooned!  The time to fight is over; the time to nurture is upon us.

So now it is official; Dayton is Governor-elect and so far, so good.  Dayton pragmatically reappointed Pawlenty’s Transportation head so that Minnesota did not lose his knowledge, insight and plans to fix our badly eroding infrastructure (and hopefully his influence on federal transportation dollars despite the Oberstar loss?)

And then today, his appointments made me smile, as led by Tina Smith, his key top aids are all women! YES!

No, I am not a feminist.  But early on in my corporate career, I learned that a man’s reliance on caveman “fight or flee” mentality generally resulted in more power struggles than positive results- as so much time gets lost in pontificating and lining up allies and too little time is spent in strategy.  Somehow, as a young green spout, I sensed that I needed to recognize, understand, and learn how to quietly circumvent that men’s club-not take it on head to head. And so my own competitive spirit, stubbornness and tenacity led me in another direction.  During the 20+ years I played in the corporate arena, I tried hard and generally succeeded, to depend on strategy and consensus–building (despite never being able to conquer that female “emotional” trait).  And surprise, despite not having the “power”, I got things done-and spent very little time assessing whether I had “won”. I tried to live by a mantra of “I have not failed; I just have not yet achieved success”; and slowly, slowly, I moved forward.  When I left that world, I left behind me, a whole new generation armed with the knowledge and tools to push forward in the continuing evolution of change that should occur in any organization. And I have watched with pride as they did just that and trumped my successes over and over again.

And so, as I have watched Mark Dayton in the last six weeks, I’ve been encouraged that we just may have a chance to recover…and show the country that purple states- when they put aside their childish antics- not only excel but can become role models for others.  It’s time now to put the fight behind us and after these long dark years of Republican/Democratic impasse, refocus to nurture and help our state grow.  Minnesota has done it before in many arenas; and I am looking forward to working together to do it again!

 POSTSCRIPT:  I realized this morning I did not get this posted yesterday, and reading it over in a different frame of mind, I was struck by how applicable these thoughts are in other avenues of my life as well.  As men ,and women both, experiment, learn and meld together those old cavemen instincts of fight or flee vs. nurture and grow, we cannot help it…our instincts oft-times won’t let us “let go”.  We all need a reminder – what we have fought to build needs the same chance we had – to experiment , change and grow – generally not in our likeness, but in an innovative and improved direction…and if we cannot do that, we become the poison that kills the growth.  A lesson I’ve needed to learn over and over again- in business, in organizations to which I belong, and in my volunteer work – how about you?

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CHECKS AND BALANCES

November 13, 2010

The Republican two-year campaign to win the 2010 elections was effective; yet, it has been made to seem more ominous and a sign of the times than it was.  Remember, it is a relatively normal cycle that has been repeated in some fashion throughout our country’s history – a contribution to the over-arching system of checks and balances as effective and important as the interplay among the branches of government the administration, the congress and the courts.  It was neither a great country-changing victory nor a life-threatening disaster.  It was an adjustment and should be treated as such. Learn, integrate the impact, and move on.  For me, I hoped this would signal  a return to sanity as we eliminate the extremes so that some measure of collaboration could be introduced into the way we govern ourselves…and perhaps as time healed the campaign wounds, together we could have an honest discourse of what we need to do to move forward.

This week, an Obama-appointed bipartisan deficit commission released a preliminary report on what needs to be done to get the country on track – to recover from the expense of the 21st century wars and the emergency actions to stop the 2007-2008 slide into a repeat of the Great Depression.  It laid out options – some favored the right; some favored the left – but the report in general clearly laid out the over-arching problems this country is facing and some options that need to be considered in order to move forward.  The conversations on TV and on-line over the last two days seem to show a general consensus – this will be hard; there are some things I as a Democrat, a Republican, a Tea Party member, or simply a independent-thinking American individual would not wish to happen, but in general, most of the feedback thus far indicates those that have read the initial overviews feel it is a realistic assessment of the problems we are facing and a realistic assessment of what kinds of things need to be addressed to get back on track.  And most feel it is a starting point for discussion and reassessment of needs and values that will form the basis of the actions that may take ten years to cement.  And although I naively wish for a quicker relief, it did take decades of dangerous thinking to get us to this place of pain, so I should be happy it might only take ten years to recover.

So, for me, there was a sense of relief to hear that perhaps sanity will prevail.  Just like the American public that made hard decisions and sacrifices to individually whittle down their own personal debt in the past 2 years to the tune of $ One Trillion, so must the government.  Some changes I will be happy about; some things I will be less so – but none will be life-threatening – nor will they place this country in a place where we are worse off than the rest of the world inhabitants – we will still live a good life.

And yet I fear in today’s world of internet and cable TV connectivity, the negativity and our new tolerance for half truths and outright lies in this election may have a broader and deeper consequence. 

And this morning in the Strib, I saw proof of that fear.  A letter to the editor demonstrated for me that not all the public saw the Deficit Commission preliminary report as a ray of hope.  One reader called it a doomsday scenario, a dog-and pony show led by Bowles and Simpson to scare Americans into an austerity program aimed at further injuring the middle class.  For him, since it did not support his own ideas, it had to be a Republican plot.

It was troubling to read that proof that the polarization and negativity continues and needs to be fixed – another task for our system of checks and balances – and one, that although it starts in state capitals and Washington, must also be supported by the media self-correcting its own actions.  Put the country and its citizens first over ratings. Give the country a fair chance to let the checks and balances work!

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ELECTION IRONY (with Nov 6 postscript)

October 30, 2010

The MN 2008 Senatorial Elections were “too close to call” leading to a recount.  One party won; one lost…and was sure that the recount was mishandled.  Remember the process?  Each candidate had a representative watching, verifying and challenging.  It took forever; and from it rose the slogan – “We are Not Florida”…and yet, human nature I guess, the losing party was not satisfied. 

A neutral entity reviewed that recount process, agreed with the recount results and reconfirmed that we have a voting model well-deserving of being considered one of best in the country and we all thought we could move on.  Not so fast…the losing party was not satisfied. 

Out of all the angst, I felt we, as Minnesotans, had won – not necessarily because of the winner named, but because we did find discrepancies and short-comings in our voting system, and have over the last two years, moved to correct and tighten the process. Is it perfect? Probably not.  Is it still worthy of being a model for the rest of the country?  Probably.

Not so fast.    Our friends on the right – you know, those proponents of less is more in terms of government oversight and involvement? They are still whining today that the system is broken.  They continue to advocate for more and better oversight.   Just like they don’t want Medicare touched…Just like they expect immediate action from government in time of crisis.  You know, fix the economy NOW…create jobs lost over five years NOW…fix the oil spill NOW…give Minnesota flood relief NOW. But I digress.

LET IT GO MY FRIENDS!  Al won, Norm lost; the world did not end.  We really don’t need polling parking lots filled on Tuesday with weeping repos trying to get in as official challengers to observe and make sure our voting system is honest.  Get over it and put an end to this nonsense. There will be another senatorial election; its just a couple years away.  You’ll get another chance.

Or am I missing the point?  Maybe the issue is not oversight – is it simply that they object that “We Are Not Florida”???!!

NOV 6 Update:  Little did I know we were headed to a repeat!  And yet I don’t regret voting for collaboration rather than the extremes of right or left.  In fact, I had to chuckle as I heard Republicans continuing to rage about fraud and recounts and their target for blame became Tom Horner!  Without Tom Horner, Emmer would have won you know, because all those votes were misdirected Repos. 

More important, I am convincing myself, that yes, the Minnesota Republicans wish they lived in Florida.

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WE’RE ALMOST THERE

October 30, 2010

Here I sit.  I know where I vote; I know when during the day I will vote; I know what the ballot looks like because I have reviewed the sample for our precinct.  I’ve listened to and read the positions of candidates on that ballot.   I just don’t know for whom I will vote-at least for Governor!

That’s a very different question in my mind than who do I think is the best candidate to lead this state out of the mess we are in. Unfortunately, despite four decades of a successful career in the business world, I’ve emerged as a moderate independent thinker that tends to lean a bit left of center.  And so elections are not easy for me…I generally do not buy blindly into either party line.

This year, I am generally appalled at most of Emmer’s positions compounded by his naiveté and a blustery good old boy personality of “I know best” so at least one candidate is eliminated from contention.   But I am also not totally convinced that Dayton is our man- despite agreeing with him on many things including the tax-avoiding snowbirds I think of as the migrant moochers.  And we all know the theory of voting for the independent just means throwing your vote away.

But then, has there ever been a candidate that scores 100% on alignment of problem identification AND proposed solutions?  I don’t believe so, and to think otherwise tends to broadcast that the voter who thinks so is most likely close-minded, uninformed, and often driven by fear and uncertainty masked as an “I know the truth” attitude-no matter which truth-right or left-they have endorsed.

In the end, I believe most in that big portion of voters in the middle, assess candidates and vote based on whomever we feel will best address our own particular issues in a manner that resonates with us.  This year is particularly hard, for the world has changed and the two main political parties continue to insist on 20th century slogans, actions, and criteria for judgment.

But we live in a different world today, with no rules to guide us.  As for me, I don’t have a clear vision of what that changing world means and how it should be addressed, but am at least comforted in the fact that I recognize it is a different world.   And I do know that open-mindedness, listening, idea exchange, and above all, collaboration, represent the most appealing pathway to explore this new world in which we find ourselves. 

Tom Horner, with little chance to win, is the only candidate I think understands that.   And only a candidate with that approach can make progress on issues that are important to me.  I am fairly confident he would get input, collaborate, and select an action to go forward.  Would he also monitor, assess, modify, abandon and replace campaign action plans if they are found not to work? 

We should all recognize that we don’t know what we don’t know until we are in the midst of something –no matter how much we do ahead of time to alleviate that void.  So what we think and commit to today may change tomorrow and to succeed, we need to modify our thinking as we move forward.

 Generally, I believe Horner’s record shows he can do that.  But has he been scared by the old school political and media measurements from the 20th century that have been placed on Obama- who won by the way, because he recognized a new century and time to change?  Or will Horner be able to objectively look at a plan that perhaps cannot work, abandon it, replace it with something else – all in the spirit of “We didn’t fail; we just have not succeeded yet”.  And more important, can he manage the voters’ expectations to allow that to happen and thus, be viewed as making progress, not failing?

I just don’t know.  It is asking a lot.  But my heart tells me, I should not vote based on who I think will win, or who I want to keep out of office, but  for whom I think is best suited – even if that means my vote cast may be considered by some to be thrown away.

I can always hope that, assuming Dayton still wins, the votes for Horner will be significant enough that Dayton will recognize it would be wise to include Horner in some significant role in his administration, and collaborating and working together, more of my issues will be addressed!

Yup, I am the eternal optimist- despite witnessing how polarized our world is, and how brutally Obama has been judged – so far.

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ONLY ONE MORE WEEK…

October 26, 2010

“Only one more week, but first comes Halloween” was my mother’s response when as I child, I would ask in anticipation, “Is it my birthday yet?” Unfortunately, because a week’s time was not an easy concept to grasp at that age, I focused on Halloween as the culprit. If there was no Halloween, it would be my birthday. And so I grew up disliking Halloween – an attitude that still has impact as it is my least favorite of all holidays!

In my 20s, birthdays moved from thoughts of cake and presents to celebratory drinks…and once again I thought I was cursed because early November birthdays meant the celebration was “always” (maybe twice in a decade) impeded because of election day and at the time, the “no selling of alcohol until the polls closed” rule. So not only Halloween, but Election Day interfered with my celebration.

Today as I sat at my desk and thought “only one more week”, I had to chuckle. Yes, one more week until my birthday, but what I was actually thinking was we only will be subjected to this incessant madness of negativity, disrespect, shouting, twisted truths and misjudgments one more week and then the elections will be over.

Most think of this as a mighty struggle between two political parties that both think they have the “right” answers and the right governing philosophy. I think of it as a mirror of my frustrations with my industry. Both reflect symptoms of human nature-and our difficulty in accepting change.

Both our government and our industry, I expect, are caught in the classic struggle of stick to what we know, judge based on history, protect the past and our old “truths” vs. exploring, moving forward, experimenting, and searching for new ways and new truths because those old truths have failed us.

The Cityscape in MinnPost yesterday featured an interview that caught my eye, in which Dean Tom Fisher, Uof M College of Design, indicates we are in an exciting time, at the cusp of a renaissance …the problems we face in the 21st century are profoundly different than those we faced just a few years ago.

Fisher suggested that the meltdown of 2007-2008 brought us into an entirely different era while the political arguments remain the same – and from my perspective, mostly irrelevant! And yet we accept this tremendous cacophony of the 2010 Elections and governing cycle as just the way it is.

A glimmer of hope, however, as Max Lenderman in his blog this morning pointed out a new trend in Advertising –when after their marked loss of revenue as a result of old thinking, a few are now venturing forth to reinvent themselves to become relevant again, and even using experiential campaigns as TV spots with good success.

If Ad Agencies after 50 years of “reigning supreme” can recognize this new world we live in, perhaps there is hope for politics (and our own Event industry) as well. Perhaps by 2012 Election Cycle, we will have moved to authentic discussions that demonstrate innovation, interaction, engagement and collaboration. To quote Dean Fisher, “this is no longer about managing situations. It’s about finding leaders who will tell new stories about the reality we’re in….we operate as if we’re still in an age of survival of the fittest, of competition, of setting up political enemies and polarization, about Democrats and Republicans when the real world now depends on mutual support and cooperation. ”

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that for all of us to recognize this will take much more than “one more week” !