Refrain to Retain

(I have found I need to preface my posts with my Blogger’s version of the Surgeon General’s Warning statement on cigarette packages:  reading this is not like reading sound bytes or watching tv ads.  It is not contemporary bite size.  It is the best I can do, however.  I have labeled sections of this to make it somewhat more digestible. Bottom line:  What happens to it after I publish is really none of my business. See also The Rhett Butler Rule on the top page, About section.

I Mea culpa. If I want a better way of governance than Donald J Trump is offering (I do), then my way of opposing cannot be his way of doing. I must be what I want, and I fear that I have not always done that in my Pane in the Tale blog posts.

For years, almost without exception the extended hand of compromise has been treated by our American right wing reactionaries in the manner with which sulking, narcissistic,  intemperate teenagers would treat such an action by their perceived enemies:  Sneer, call names, shout and scream lies and insults and then bite.   And I, acting partially on the belief that we still had a civil, rational culture waiting out there to reassert itself in the last elections and partially out of people pleasing, just let it happen. Trump and his flock finally took that deluded restraint to the tipping point, pushed it over the cliff  and broke the camel’s back.  So: I regret very much having not spoken up earlier.  No More Mr Nice Guy to them any longer.  No longer to be their speed bump,   must mean that I not start biting back or acting just like they have.   All that does, as in war, is prolong the battle and extend the destruction.

But I have bitten back. I have poured fuel on Donald’s already blazing inferno.  I let the fear of losing things I need or think I need drive my expressions.  Ido not apologize for entering the fray nor do I regret my ideas. But for my own peace of mind and to shorten the time till Trump’s derailment and crashing, I need to acknowledge trhat fear has contorted my expression into aggressive sarcasm, bedevilment of opponents, character assassination, etc.. I’ve only added fuel to the fires.

II The New Governance Culture. Someone once said that fear is False Emotions Appearing Real. It seems to me that a national governance culture which at least tried tobe encouraging and helpful, friendly, aimed at making positive differences in citizens’ lives has changed over night and not just figurately over night: really. The prime shared of any culture is the thinking and behavior of the top leader. It appears that our national governance culture now values and acts on being against things just to make a big splash, win/lose competitiveness towards just about anyone DT dislikes and weighted towards favoring the President and his men/women,, and finally aimed not a solving problems based on unfiltered reading of the data, but doing what will give Trump and his Republican Congressional and administrative band of imitators and followers more position, power, status and prestige at anyone’s expense but theirs.

I’ll give them the notion that my fears about the changes in our dominant culture could be anticipatory and therefore not actual. And if so, I don’t want the Trumpers via my fears to rent space in my head in absentia. I’ve chosen to style myself somewhat as a soldier in a campaign to right a grave error in our politics. As such, I try to be guided by a character in Masters of Sex (a great tv series about Masters and Johnson by the way) who puts it well: soldiers, he says, do not suffer today from the wounds that have not yet occurred and probably will not.

III A Better Assertion. OK. Following that wisdom, I categorically reject what I perceive to be the new administration’s undemocratic guiding principles; further I reject as ill advised and counter-productive the emerging autocratic/heroic process which is emerging as the path for governance so far. I can, however, in some instances, agree with the issues and/or needs they have identified. Not all because there is no consistency or logical policy, but sometimes, often in retrospect. Bottom line: it is not so much the tasks they choose that raise the alarm bells for me, but the process by which they implement.

Take the travel ban.

For decades in my business, I’ve taught and tried to use up to date research, which in some form has been going on for more than 100 years, about what makes for leadership success and what makes for failure, in any context. Boiled down it is this: our task skills (how to do whatever) account only for getting he job. Success comes from learning the competencies demanded by he job and implementing them excellently. Failure is called derailment and hardlyi ever is caused by lack of task competency. As a rule of thumb, however, derailing just about always involves some sort of interpersonal shortcoming. So, we derail when we overuse our strengths, fail to develop the competencies needed by our real life situation, and actually practice skills and attitudes which stall and stop careers and leadership effectiveness. The management of the travel ban is a good example of derailment.

They say that the US has ineffectively managed entry of foreigners into the country and that in a world in which ISIL and others are clear and present dangers. To me it makes sense to be careful and selective about who comes and goes through our borders. You don’t want to invite more crazies into the asylum than you can handle, after all. I do not think that acknowledging principle that poorly managed immigration with lots of loopholes presents great potential for harm to us. It is no delusion or in some way a violation of any American principles to acknowledge the principle in question here.

The process by which it is all handled, however, is another matter altogether. It’s simple: it violates the fundamental American values set forth by Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address: democracy–government of, by and for the people, not the 1% ultrasuper rich, not the Corporations, not the President, not the Republicans with their “Unitary Executive” euphemism for dictatorship.

Let’s take just one mainfestation of those democratic values here: the fundamental right of every American and everyone living under our law to due process; We do not deprive anyone of their rights without first notifying them and then letting them make a case before a neutral magistrate for their actions and against ours.

To observe the right to due process, however, the leadership taking restrictive action needs to see all men as created equal. That means in terms of skills to deploy on the job, for example, effective Presidential use of such competencies as integrity and trust, patience, dealing effectively with ambiguity,and a lot more. Our President, however, also needs not to be rigid in the face of differences, not to lose his composure, not to be insensitive to others, not to make political missteps, not to rely on just one skill. And more. All of this is about how he needs to go about is agenda, not what the agenda is.

By ramming home with no chance to adjust and no way to avoid being incorrectly categorized as some sort of enemy, American citizens and those we have already welcomed as guests into our culture have been deprived of their rights. It is irrelevant to argue that only a few have been illegally detained. The principle of due process, the principle of going about governing in a democratic way, has been violated. Mr Trump and his Republican flock in Congress ought to have known from even just Richard Nixon’s fate that how you do things is the issue. Mr Trump has needed only one week to show that he will willlinglly violate due process, to demonstrate that his process competencies are counterproductive and anathema to democratic processes. And the riots are at one level a vote of no confidence, a signal to Mr Trump that he is derailing himself and us.

IV What Is DT’s Leadership Style? There are only two natural, inborne leadership styles: autocrat and Laisser-faire: my way or the highway or whatever turns you on. Until the 1950s people thought that Laisser-faire-faire was democratic. It is not. Experiments showed that groups, organizations and cultures with either autocratic or Laisser-faire leadership wind up with low commitmet, dribbling output, poor quality, internal squabbling and finally shut down as people retreat into hardened self protective positions. Democratic leadership is learned and it involves mastering very high level competencies, based on the values Lincoln so eloquently set before us in the Gettysburg Address.

It also turns out that, if let go long enough, autocratic and Laisser-faire leaders always self destruct. The reason is that they never know what’s really happening and make all the wrong decisions, or none at all. Autocrats always think that they really have it down, and especially so just before their houses of cards collapse. That’s because nobody wants to deal with their ire when telling then the sad facts of existence and so they either tell them nothing or just what they know the Leader wants to hear. Subordinates in autocratic cultures become razor sharp at blowing smoke. Laisser-faire leaders never ask for feedback and look at the initial outburst of joy at being freed from direction as success in leading. As a result, we get the Nero fiddling while Rome is burning phenomenon and we get politicians who cannot differentiate campaigning from governing. Republicans have long been addicted to that failing fallacy. And most leaders who have no competency as democratic leaders swing like a pendulum back and forth between autocracy and Laisser-faire: Donald Trump.

V A Way Out: Attraction, not Promotion. That leads to a very practical reason not to spew forth invective against him and his in return for his doing that to us: it just gives him more cause to keep up fighting. If we focus on doing it right ourselves and let him just do on without aggressive, judgmental, demeaning, snotty counterattacking, he will eventually create enough rope and just hang himself. It is inevitable because he will never see it coming. The only quesion is how to shorten the time without pouring on more fuel.

The first step is to realize that “They” did not elect Donald President. We did. We must embrace the fact that They did not make our bed for us, we did and now we must sleep in it. Once we’ve done that, we can make change by being the change, one citizen at a time. If the issues he presents are valid, then let’s affirm that. And if he way he goes about handling them is inconsistent with democratic leadership, then before he derails all of us, let us challenge that as directly and as energetically as we can without violating those principles ourselves. After all, I get angry out of fear, go on the attack and fuel the fire, but we find common ground and retain our much neglected democracy.

One thought on “Refrain to Retain”

  1. Well put, I think. I would love to know how Trump would be rated on competencies of leadership and derailing factors.

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