A More Reasoned Approach

30 July 2004

The burgers and fries I’ve been getting from the White House lunch room have not been as bad as the ones that Keith has been getting. I’ve also been fortunate in that my treatment as a customer hasn’t declined in the last few years. I’ve been able to understand the people and I never realized a fryer blew up.

I like the way he’s expressed his thoughts, and he’s been on my high-priority reading list for quite some time![Note the comments he’s getting.] I’m very interested in the quality of the debate in this country. Anger at one person may not be the right or a sufficient basis for replacing them with another. Keith makes it clear that there are multiple areas in which he feels John Kerry can do a better job than George Bush. Those thoughts were expressed without venom and emotion. Keith does a good job of characterizing the nature of far too many of the so-called peaceful protests.

In my daily work, I work with people who need help getting to the heart of their business processes, their metrics and the facts about their work. I like facts. I like things that we agree on. What to do about those facts can be debated, but I like the point at which there is agreement on what the real facts are.

That’s what’s frustrating about politics. Instead of dealing with the facts associated with an issue, the public debates often begin without defining the problem, how it is measured and discussion of possible ways to solve it. Career politicians (on both sides of the aisle) foster this by becoming part of the media machine that spins their takes on the matter. From there the public is faced with listening to the spin to make choices. It’s a broken system!

As for labels, I agree with Keith. However, I’m guilty of participating in the labeling process, even though it is largely destructive to meaningful processes for finding solutions. I’ve even used a label to try and provide a ”snapshot” of my political leanings. Issue by issue, I use a framework of mental models assessment and study of any topic. It’s basically a cognitive technique that can be applied to anything. Yet, when a debate becomes emotional, the cognitive approach can get abandoned as quickly as any other reasoned method.

One of the most important questions facing us as a nation is whether or not we can return to statemanship and civil debate as a means for finding solutions to our problems.

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