Find it interesting that during an election season all rules are thrown out the doors. We attack people for their thinking and their beliefs. I’ve got several interesting notes over the past couple of weeks asking what I think of the marketing of the current crop of presidential candidates. Most of my friends see me as a centrist. That’s a nice way of saying I say I have points of view that don’t match theirs.
I’m a multi-racial person that has never used it to put me in a protected class. My grandfather was African American and my mother grew up in the inner city of Cleveland during a time when multi-racial children were not as accepted as they are today. She and her sister Jean suffered the worst a person could imagine at the hands of most of the society at the time. The stories both women could tell brought tears to even the most hardened of people.
My father was in the military and spent much of his early life travelling the world right after World War II. He lost the sight in one of his eyes in his early twenties and carried shrapnel in his body until the day he died. Our family came over on the Mayflower. Every generation since the American Revolution has served our country in the military. He was a tough and capable man and he spared no one his opinions when he thought he was right. To me, he was Captain America.
This two people taught me the meaning of responsibility and honor. It is unusual to have a single day pass where I don’t use something they taught me. Their political views couldn’t be more different and they didn’t avoid sharing them with me. They were passionate and they never avoided a confrontation. My mother and my Aunt Carol marched in the Civil Rights movement in Cleveland. You couldn’t get more left than these two. My father spent a large part of his life in government and the emerging technology markets. He was a grey man who stood up for corporate stewardship and strong government. An odd combination but it seemed to work as he was involved in many of the major struggles in our country’s history.
Now where does this leave me? It leaves me in the center. I’m one of the 14% that will help determine the election. Why me? Because for all this talk about civility from our politicians, the country is divided and people on both sides of the aisle aren’t moving. There is no compromise and both believe their arguments. Their beliefs are so established that minus a major event in their lives they aren’t changing at any costs. The facts support them and their emotions hold them in place. This is a deadly duo.
I thought when I worked with the Clinton administration that there couldn’t a more polarizing figure on the left. His political skills and dynamic personality made him a target for almost every right wing extremist who wanted their opinions heard. However, we soon discovered a man with his ambitions also understood that to create a permanent place in history he would need to compromise and he did. He created an economy that was the envy of the world, and the world wanted its share of this new technology economy. When I toured the country, foreign competition in the mid 1990’s was stealing 80 billion dollars in technologies from the United States alone. We truly were the envy of the world. But this too would end when the technology bubble burst and left investors with pennies on the dollar for their stock investments. I’m not sure why people fail to remember this fact when discussing technology investments.
I went to work for President Bush after 9/11 working with the Department of Defense and discovered that the right didn’t have exclusive ownership on hate speech. If President Clinton was not respected, President Bush became the target for every left wing loon who could string two sentences together. Their anger became so large they created a cottage industry who made their living telling new lies about how bad GW was. Movies, books , and blogs, oh my. This man brought out the worst in people. The problem was that the people on the right knew they must defend him. Those of us who were involved knew he has a fair and decent man. Just like his predecessor.
That brings us up to today. We are entering the most important election in our lifetimes. That’s what we are being told by both sides of the political spectrum. In my job it’s not good to make enemies. My livelihood and that of my family is determined by my ability to fade into the background and only step forward when leaders need advisors. I’m to take no glory but provide unvarnished information to people who have the responsibility for making the decisions that will help shape our world. But as I look forward, I see a clear distinction between providing information and taking action. Over the next several weeks, before the election, I’ll provide an additional resource for you to read that talks about the issues that impact your family and our country. The Developing Serving Leader blog on Fridays will provide you with insights and my views on what you might want to consider as you enter the voting booth this year. My agenda is clear, let the country choose the form of government it wants. I hope to provide you with the tools you need to make the right decision for your family and community. I will also endorse a candidate before the election. This election is too important not to get every person out to vote. You will get the country you voted for.
Starting this next Friday, I’ll post my thinking on election 2012 here. We have several intersting blogs covering the many key issues of this year’s election. If you don’t want to read and share it, that’s okay, you can still read my regular blogs on Tuesday.