Post-Election Frenzy

November 11, 2016
Message from Will

Today is Friday, Veteran’s Day, three days after the election that saw Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton (and some folks from the Libertarian and Green Parties). The election result was a major surprise to almost everyone because somehow almost all of the polling was wrong, even the candidate’s private polling.

I admit, I didn’t like the result. Donald Trump seems unprepared, unrelentingly hateful, and generally incompetent. Still, maybe he’ll surprise me and do some good things while avoiding doing things that are really dangerous and harmful.

This is my first post for Make Truth Great Again, and so I thought I should give you a behind-the-scenes look at how things got started. I have to admit, the last three days have been so frenzied and so emotionally crazy, that I’m a bit fuzzy about what transpired. Here’s what I remember…

I stayed up till 3 AM on election night. Even by that time, it was clear that Trump was going to win. I woke up early. I thought I might sleep in, but I couldn’t sleep. I don’t remember what got me going, but while walking our dog Brewer — really taking him out for a jog — thoughts of all sorts rushed in torrents through my mind. I despaired over a political process that had brought us two polarizing candidates and one president so seemingly dreadfully wretched.

As my thoughts searched for footing, I couldn’t help but come to the conclusion that our political process was majorly fogged up. It seemed that many voters’ decision-making turned on false premises, misinformation, or fairly trivial characteristics of the candidates or their ideas.

From Voters:

  • “I like him because we need a business man.”
  • “He tells it like it is.”
  • “We need a woman to finally be president.”
  • “She should be locked up.”
  • “He’s not a politician.”

From the Candidates:

  • “Illegal immigration is up!” (It’s actually at it’s lowest level since 1972, and it’s only 20% of what it was in 2000!).
  • “Murder rate is highest in 45 years.” (It is up this year, but it’s way down from five years ago, and ten years ago, and twenty years ago).
  • “Donald Trump said rescuing the auto industry didn’t really matter very much.” (His words were much more nuanced and he was very clear that he thought the auto industry needed to be rescued).

And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg on the level of dishonesty and deflection that marked the election.

What could I do? My first thought was to take what I’ve learned about learning — I’ve been studying learning and consulting on it for three decades — and use those insights to help my pathetically-incompetent political party send more potent messages, make more meaningful connections, and utilize factors gleaned from the learning research to actually improve the effect of its outreach. For years, I thought it might be fun to start an advertising agency that utilized science-of-learning secrets to bring progressive political ideas to the fore. I don’t know a damn thing about advertising really, and that fantasy was just a personal entertainment I indulged in.

The truth is, although I’m a registered Democrat, my party promotes a bunch of stuff that I completely disagree with. If I had more power, if I had more money and celebrity and good looks, I’d start a brand new political party drawing wisdom from all the parties (Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, Socialists, et cetera, and look to other countries and counties and towns and villages for wisdom on how to make government work better). But that’s just another daydream indulgence, worth only a few happy moments for me now and then. You’ve got your coffee and Tequila, I’ve got my daydreams.

Not wanting to be a tool of any political party, my post-election madness kept circling back to learning. I knew learning. I didn’t know politics, or advertising, or civil disobedience. Something had to be done. What could I do? Anything?

As it happened, I had been looking beyond my consulting practice for a few months, networking to get a different kind of job… like a real job, with a boss, and performance reviews, and in my networking I had found three really intriguing possibilities, with positions that seemed like they might be fun and lucrative. Talks had begun between me and these three companies, but then, well, the election hit…and something had to be done.

I think my brain subconsciously made the connection, bringing two unrelated ideas into working memory at the same time. Number 1, my beloved country was falling apart and Number 2, I was looking for a job.

This idea — to use learning to help with larger issues outside the workplace training and talent-development field — was not new to me. Indeed, within the last two months I’d started writing a book about this very thing… four chapters done so far… so obviously this is top of mind.

By the time Brewer and I had run our 3 miles, I had decided to attempt to start a nonprofit to Make Truth Great Again.

So, to make this too-long post just a little bit longer, in the last three days, between doing some client work, my Make-Truth-Great-Again to-do list has included figuring out whether crowdsourcing could fund the birth of a nonprofit, developing a name for this effort and some branding ideas, finding the right crowdfunding tool (Indiegogo’s Generosity seems perfect!), developing a video script and shooting the video, learning a little something about nonprofit structures and rules, getting feedback and wisdom from my wife, searching for and purchasing domain names, creating a website and populating it with content and media-design elements, and designing a temporary logo (Yes! I’d love a volunteer graphic artist to create something better).

The last three days have been a joy! This is the way life should be led — with energy, passion for a cause, and a sense of purpose.

Hopefully tomorrow I can open a bank account for the coming nonprofit so that I can get the crowdfunding started to help give people some sense of hope after a tough election season!

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