November 9, 2012
Dudley Weeks ©

Regardless of whether a person is pleased or displeased about the outcome of the 2012
election, one thing is clear. The citizenry wants and needs its elected leaders to use the
power we have given them to work with us and with each other to improve the state of
the nation. Here are the steps I suggest need to be taken toward that critical goal.

Step #1: Discard the misguided and divisive strategy of “Who blinks first?” and
pursue “The Doables Approach.”

In their first remarks after the election, both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
and (to a lesser degree) Speaker of the House John Boehner focused on some of the most
divisive and contentious issues facing the nation. The attitude underlying McConnell’s
comments implied that cooperation with President Obama is possible only if he agrees
to Republican demands, if he “blinks first.”

The “who blinks first” strategy leads to hardened positions, more gridlock, and disastrous
consequences for the American people. There is another way, one that is effective and
sustainable. I call it The Doables Approach. Here’s how it works.

Each opposing party identifies an issue the other party can agree to (a “Doable”),
and the agreement becomes a steppingstone in building a pathway of cooperation
for the good of the nation. Democrats suggest one, Republicans suggest
one, and the “who blinks first” strategy no longer prevails.

The first Doable will deal with a smaller, less contentious issue. Focusing first on the
most divisive and contentious major issues will not be productive. If an initial Doable is
agreed upon, several positive results can occur.

One, the citizenry will begin to believe their leaders just might be capable of putting
the nation first. Hope will replace despair.
Two, a Doable helps both parties realize they have the ability and the will to cooperate
without “losing”. Cooperation will benefit both parties and the citizenry.
Three, a Doable builds momentum and helps lay a steppingstone toward rational
agreements on larger issues.
Four, members of the House will enhance their reelection prospects only two short
years away.

Our elected leaders have the capacity to apply the Doable Approach instead of a
“who blinks first” strategy. We the citizens need to pressure leaders to utilize that
capacity. What might some of those Doables be? That’s for our elected leaders to
determine. There are issues that can be agreed upon as steepingstones if the
Doable Approach is implemented.
(NOTE: For readers interested in a more in-depth discussion of “Doables”,
please see my book, The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution.)

Step #2: Fit theory to reality, don’t try to force reality to conform to theories.

Theories are “proposed but unverified explanations” of the way things work.
No matter how passionate a person feels about a theory, treating it as a fact is
foolish, especially when reality has proven the theory obsolete or just plain wrong.

Take for example the theory that revenue is raised by cutting taxes; or the theory
that giving advantage to the wealthy and big business means wealth will always
trickle down to the rest of society and that jobs will always be created; or the theory
that unregulated financial institutions will, on their own, police their excessive greed.
As the financial crisis of the first years of the 21st Century has proven, these
theories are wrong. They contradict reality. Repeating the same theories as
though they are sacred truths will not change that fact.

Step #3: Transcend from battles for supremacy between rigid ideologies to the
development of the many mutual benefits diversity can produce.

In a nation and a world of enormous diversity, rigid ideologies can be dangerous.
When they are used to shape policy, when they arrogantly claim to have the” answers”,
when zealous religious followers, in effect, claim they and they alone understand and
speak for God, a divided nation and world is the result.

Basing life on rigid ideologies ignores the reality that human society is diverse and
complex. It’s almost as though the only secure place a proponent of a rigid ideology
can feel secure is in a world of people who share the same ideology. That kind of
world simply does not exist anymore.

The task is to focus on those principles within diverse ideologies that connect, that are
compatible with each other, and develop policies that reflect those shared principles in
the way people are treated and societies are structured. For example, an objective
study of the teachings of the world’s major religions reveals far more areas of similarity
and agreement than areas of disagreement. Sadly, proponents of rigid religious ideology
focus only on the areas of disagreement, claiming their particular ideology represents
“God’s word” and “truth”.

As long as factions among our elected leaders promote rigid ideologies and refuse to
acknowledge and act upon the enriching contributions of diversity, our nation and the
world will become more divided and less effective.....politically, economically, and socially.

There are many other steps that need to be taken and can be taken after the 2012
election. I believe the three discussed in this brief Commentary can be a good place
to start.

Dudley Weeks

(Copyright 2007: Domestic and international law prohibits the public use of this article without the written permission of the author. Any reprint must bear the author’s name and notice of legal restrictions.}