Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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In the highly-charged atmosphere of our current political season, is more fighting really what we need? Senator Elizabeth Warren evidently thinks so. Here is a portion of Senator Warren’s comments on the Rachel Maddow show last night, when Warren explained why she is endorsing Hillary Clinton for President: 

Hillary Clinton won . . . because she’s a fighter . . . . And I think this is what we need. . . 

As a Democrat, one of the things that frustrates me the most is there are a lot of times we just don’t get in the fight. We ask pretty please if we can have things or we make the argument for why it is the best thing to do, and then wait patiently for the other side to agree to come along. We negotiate. We start our opening position by negotiating.

You know, and I get that. I get the reason that you should be willing to negotiate sometimes. But you also ought to be willing to throw a punch.

It’s an obvious dig at President Obama, often criticized from the left for being too willing to make concessions to adversaries in advance.

And it’s no surprise that all of the candidates for president this year present a more combative image than the one our current president projects. It’s conventional wisdom in political circles that the public usually wants a president different in personality from the current one, and that may be one reason none of the current candidates are running on a platform that emphasizes looking for common ground with one’s adversaries.

If anything, Bernie Sanders has run a campaign even more
combative than Hillary Clinton’s, railing against the rich and powerful, and frequently talking about how the struggle or the revolution must continue. Donald Trump has openly encouraged violence from his rally attendees, delights in name-calling, and brags about the tough approach he promises to take with trading partners and foreign enemies. His idea of negotiating sounds more like bullying.

Strangely enough, however, the broad public doesn’t seem all that enthused about any of these fighting candidates. President Obama remains our most popular national politician. Looking back on his record in office, even his critics would have to acknowledge that he got a heck of a lot done, in the face of relentless opposition, by always being willing to negotiate with and work alongside his political opponents, instead of always fighting them.