Media and Crisis Management
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Media and Crisis Management

Candidates need to protect us – not fight each other

Posted on: July 29th, 2012

Potpourri: Candidates need to protect us – not fight each other:

With morning coffee in hand I walked into the den where my wife grimly held up the morning newspaper front page headlines declaring, “We are not safe.”

The words were the warning of the 9/11 commission’s report on the attack. Our government could not or did not connect a surprising quantity of dots signaling the impending strike. The commission added, “…an attack of even greater magnitude is now possible and even probable.”

Other than an actual disaster, could there be more frightening words than “We are not safe?” Safety is the number one concern when people turn on or read the news. We worry whether our family is safe, our neighborhood, our community, state, nation, and world. Our values, property, and beliefs too are of concern. When we have no time to digest the news, we scan the headlines to verify our wellbeing. “We are not safe” threatens.

That’s personal for many. We have a niece who will give birth this fall and my wife doesn’t like the fact that she lives within a few hours of Washington DC. Linda said, “I don’t want them to hurt my baby.” I think the same thing was on the mind of Today’s Katie Couric that morning. She and her two children live in the New York City area. With unusual intensity Couric pressed Senator Joseph Biden to explain how Congress would overcome partisanship to implement changes to protect us from another 9/11. Sen. Biden said the American people must demand it.

So what do we the people do? I have two proposals for this campaign season. First, we should ask our state candidates for national office what they will do in Washington to protect us. Second, we should evaluate a candidate’s character before sending him or her to the Capitol.

1. How will you protect us? When companies and institutions find themselves mired in controversy, I counsel that their actions and words should reassure people that they are safe or as safe as reasonably possible under the circumstances. It is a litmus test. Before acting, executives should ask themselves, “Is this reassuring?” If it is, then it is almost certainly the right strategy. I suggest we demand the same of our candidates. What specific steps will they take, if elected, to help our government connect the dots before the next strike? Will they work in a bipartisan manner to unite intelligence fiefdoms to protect our loved ones? Do their proposals for action against terrorism reassure us? All other issues are secondary. All other issues. How… will… you… keep… us… safe?

2. Character. Most of us are accustomed to election mudslinging. I don’t know about you, but now is NOT the time for it. I have no patience for shouting and yelling when mothers and children and families may be in danger because Washington cannot get its act together. We need people to go to DC to mend fences, build bridges, create coalitions, solve problems, and work for protecting the people of this country. We need to know that those we elect have the kind of disposition likely to make it happen. Try this. The next time you watch a candidate blast an opponent in a political commercial, ask yourself, “Is this the kind of person I want in office when the government has yet to agree on how to fight terrorists, and lives are at stake?” Think about it. Do you sincerely believe that people who attack others to get elected would then go to Congress and suddenly become consensus makers? The candidate’s character is in the ads. Reflect on what you see.

We should not vote for candidates who soil serious issues with nastiness. To the rest we should say, “We are not safe. Not our families, neighborhoods, communities, states, nation, and world. What will YOU, sir or madam, do to protect us? If we elect you, please, for the sake of all of us, do it!”

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