Reading the newspaper each day is a surreal experience. Doubtless you feel you have entered The Looking Glass World.
But there is a lesson here for you. A lesson that will serve you well in business and in life.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a noble politician to vote for?
A high-principled one who would instinctively and always do the right thing?
Perhaps someone like Abraham Lincoln?
Unfortunately it turns out that Honest Abe “…dissembled, waffled, told racist stories and consorted with corrupt politicians.” He also planned dirty tricks to counteract his opponent’s antics including a scheme to harvest large numbers of illegal votes. Read more about this in an article by Garry Wills in the October 5, 1992 issue of Time magazine.
Fast forward to today and the New York Times reports that many Republicans are whipsawed “between two unpalatable options: alienating much of their party’s base, or standing behind a nominee who is unacceptable to most mainstream voters.”
Donald Trump has set new records for mendacity and the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, is giving a celebrated imitation of a human pretzel as he tries to “explain” his position.
I have some advice for all these torn politicians.
How about doing what you honestly, deep-down truly, believe?
How about forgetting about whether or not you will get elected and doing what you feel will be in the larger interest of the nation? That will create the country that you would wish your children to live in?
Who has the capacity to heal divisions and raise an ennobling vision as Lincoln did in his second inaugural address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Is there no such candidate?
Fine. Then pick the one who is closest to it even if the gap is wide.
The politicians have an advantage that most of the rest of us don’t. They have personal experience of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton or they know persons
Who best represents what America stands for and what they wish it stood for?
Support and root for that person. Leave your petty interests out of the picture.
And what lesson does this have for you and me?
We, too, are torn as we go about our lives. Should we protest that sexual comment or let it pass because the person who made it is very senior? Should we lay off the pleasant, incompetent person or the prickly foreigner who is really good at his job? Should we speak up when the consensus favors a policy we disagree with? Or remain silent and acquiesce to avoid rocking the boat and alienating superiors?
In most cases we take an action based on our judgment of what is best for us.
We are all self-centered and always have been.
But let us at least actively consider what is the ‘right’ thing to do.
Some of the time we will actually do it.
And it will enrich our lives.