Civility in politics requires both parties to sit down at the same table. While we may need a bigger in a more intimate location, our leaders need to start to have a conversation, well before the election.
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As providers and as elected leaders, we both need to put people first and focus on the communities we serve. Good government should be about creating better opportunities for people in our state and I strongly encourage each of you to seek out the providers in your district, visit them, talk with the consumers and their families, and get a strong sense of the vital role you play in the direct care of our consumers.
Moving your audience to action is about influencing how they think and feel and ultimately, what you want them to do. By understanding the desired outcomes at the start, you’ll be able to develop messages that drive your key audiences to action.
Daniel Cherrin, founder of North Coast Strategies, spoke at Wayne State University Urban Public Policy Resolution Conference on stakeholder engagement, "Giving Voice To The Community." This is his presentation on The Third Way -- The Way Forward and how we can take the politics out of the policy making process.
Sustainable leadership starts with a vision. That vision may be from a great mind or a great listener. The State of the Union, State of the State and State of the City is the prime opportunity of the Chief Executive to celebrate their achievements, communicate their vision for what they want to happen before they leave office and their lay out their agenda for how they will achieve that vision.
As the former Communications Director for the City of Detroit, I have drafted a State of the City and worked to communicate a vision for Detroit. In our case, that vision was a dose of reality, following the previous mayors incarceration, the city's true financial situation exposed and a US economy on the verge of one of the worst recessions in decades.
"We have a choice," Mayor Cockrel said in 2009. "We can continue to do business as usual and fail to live within our means as a city government, but doing so means that someone else will likely be appointed to come and make the hard choices for us."
At the time, the people of Detroit did not want to hear or believe that message, but it was our warning that the previous Mayor left us in a very difficult position. As a result, we used that speech and that opportunity to lay out all the cards and give a realistic picture of Detroit's financial situation as we knew it at that time.
It was also our opportunity to assure the people of Detroit and the entire state of Michigan, in addition to the bond holders that we had a handle on the situation and they they could be assured we were setting the city back on the right path.
Today, the person appointed to fix Detroit's financial situation came and left. Crane's clutter Detroit's skyline and there is progress in the city. Lots of work however remains. Public safety remains an issue, obesity is a problem and illiteracy continues to plague Detroit. With the city's financial situation being taken care of, it is now time to focus on the people. We need to find a way to break the cycle of poverty in the city, find a way to ensure Detroit schoolchildren start school ready to learn and that a job awaits the people who seek them.
The Mayor must now work at breaking the cycle of poverty and find a way for everyone to buy into the same vision.
Not with the messages handed-out by Democrats in Michigan. With so much going on in this state, from crumbling infrastructure under a harsh winter to a new vibe in Detroit and tremendous growth in Grand Rapids, you would think there is a rare opportunity for Democrats to share with voters what they stand for instead of whom they stand against.
Unfortunately, I received two emails last week from Democrats that told me they want to play politics as usual.
Each message was a solicitation:
Subject: Dems $6 for 6 seats
I know we have asked for a lot lately, but only because the stakes are so very high for our state. Please chip in $6 for 6 seats in November. The deadline is tonight at Midnight and 231 donors have given so far, so your $6 donation could be the one that puts us over the top to our goal of 250 donors. Tim - Sent from my iPhone.
Then minutes later, I received a similar message:
“This will be the last update you get from us for a while because our deadline is tonight at Midnight. We know that you have not given yet, but we are just 28 donations from our goal so your donation could make the difference. Please chip in $6 or whatever you can to help us hit our goal by the Midnight deadline. Thanks, Sam”
With each message, the Democrats missed a rare opportunity to engage a prospective donor and voter in why they should support them. Each time they failed to create an emotional connection and failed to educate them on what issues they stand for or stand for advancing.
With the above messages, as someone who may make a contribution, I want to know:
- Why are those six seats important?
- Where are those six seats?
- Who is running?
I need something more before making that investment, even for $6. I also don’t like the negative messaging. The timing of these messages did not fit the news cycle, just a political calendar. At the time, the Legislature was voting on spending bills that focused on infrastructure, the U.S. District Court (Eastern District) was preparing to hear a landmark case on equal and civil rights dealing with the rights of same-sex couples and the UAW was just recovering from difficult challenges in the South – Issues, that Democrats do have a leg to stand on. Issues that they could engage me better on as to what they plan on doing about it and why I should care.
Yet, this week the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee announced a major tax proposal while the state is also considering major changes to state tax laws. The President also released his Budget with funding to help those living in poverty, to help restore and protect the Great Lakes and to help enhance our aging roads and bridges. Yet, this week, the Democrats were silent and I did not receive a solicitation.
I recall a time that I sat in the Lansing office of a former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party and asked if I can help create a vision for Michigan Democrats and a strategic plan for each caucus to take back to their district that would work to create a movement or engage others in why they should support Democrats. At the time, the Chairman pointed out his window, towards the state capitol with the House and Senate controlled by Republicans, and said, “You see that building, our message is against, whatever they are for.”
If Democrats are to make gains in 2014, they need a vision. Their message needs to be strategic, coordinated and engaging. Today, there is no such thing as politics as usual. People are no longer voting based on a D or an R behind ones name. To help those running for office, Democrats and Republicans alike, need to figure out, what they stand for and then arm their caucus with the tools and resources to broadcast and share that message in a way that will resonate with the voter. It is time to end the politics and focus on the policy as a way to engage voters.
.... They get caught. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford knows that now when he faced reporters earlier this week asking them to re-ask a question they asked him in May. "You asked me a question back in May and you can repeat that question," Mr. Ford told a bunch of journalists earlier this week as reported in The New York Times. He then admitted that he did indeed smoke crack cocaine. Also last week, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) was accused of plagiarism, denied it and finally this week admitted what happened. (Although to his credit, he also came out with a plan for addressing the situation.) Rolling Stone magazine released their "Top five political excuses of all time" earlier this week and unfortunately we keep hearing these excuses from our elected leaders.
To a political figure there is no worse punishment than a damaged reputation. The longer a person works to cover up something the more damage they will do to their reputation. As a result, here are 5 tips to help politicians out of a sticky situation:
- Don't lie. If you do lie or misrepresent something, speak out of turn or make a mistake, quickly admit it, apologize, work to resolve the issue and move on to the next issue.
- Don't try to cover it up, it will only make things worse.
- Don't react. Re-evaluate the situation and respond quickly but thoughtfully.
- Don't dodge the media. Focus on the facts and process.
- Seek the advice of an attorney and public relations professional before things get out of hand.