Personal Reflections on We the People

We the People

We the People

The U.S. mid-term election results were a reminder that once a constituency is “won,” it is only the beginning of a relationship. Just as motivational fervor is quick to die after the speaker sells a bunch of product, a politician’s success is not sustainable without continued attention to those who voted. Last week’s Transformational Speaking class said it well: Love Your Audience! As evidence of the disengagement of Obama’s base, only 9 million young people voted this week compared to 23 million in 2008. At the same time, the zeal of the Tea Party ignited a movement. It seems the rigor of getting elected pales in comparison to that of governing.

For me, Obama’s election in 2008 was a last-gasp effort at hoping someone else could solve the problems for us. Yet I remember the way he looked at Michele on election night when the announcement came that he had won. His gaze was not the glaze of victory; it was one of those “heaven help us” glances that signaled his recognition of the long road ahead.

I don’t pretend to know what the answers are in these complex times. I do look back to two years ago and wonder how the U.S. can so easily ignore that the economic meltdown was inherited by Obama, not caused by him. And as Republicans call for reining in spending, this week the Federal Reserve opts to spend $600 Billion to “nurture a fragile recovery ahead of battles that will dominate politics over the next two years” (NY Times). I don’t see either party accomplishing what we want, which is a government and an economy that works for “we the people.”

So here’s my political “secret.” In 1981 as a young businesswoman in Nashville, TN, I was the first woman to be named the SBA TN Small Business MAN of the year. I had sponsored and organized the first Tennessee Women’s Career Convention to bring together women and companies for the purpose of job placement. It was a three-day event with 75 speakers on three tracks of programming that attracted 4,000 women from 16 states. Because I generated a high profile in the process, soon I was appointed by our Republican governor to the Commission on the Status of Women. Then a respected Democratic leader took me to lunch to see if I would be interested in running for state office, the House of Representatives no less. A Republican leader sought me out for the same conversation. No one knew my politics but I was noticed because I stepped out and make something work that wanted to happen.

All this was heady stuff, especially since I didn’t know beans about politics. But I’m sure there were plenty of people who would tell me what to say, how to win, and what to do once I got to Washington. And I would have depended on them and thought it was perfectly natural to follow their lead, at least until I experienced my own “upwising,” to quote Swami Beyondananda. Thankfully, my love of the speaking world took me instead to Arizona as the executive vice president of the worldwide National Speakers Association. And the rest is my history.

I’ve become interested in politics over time, aspiring not to office but to living in a country that keeps its promises and is respected as a leader in the world. The U.S. is so far down in the rankings globally, whether it is our productivity or the state of our health or our care of the earth, I see much of today’s politicking and posturing as the Emperor’s New Clothes. Today I have my own ideas, and I want no more conversations about what’s wrong and who’s wrong; I want only to stimulate new discussions that allow us to set a new course in support of a better story. (See my July eletter Calling All Voices to explore the four questions that might revive your spirit and ignite your imagination.)

My path was exactly right for me. Every day in my work I have a front-row seat for the ideas that are shaping our future and the opportunity to work with people who are dedicating their voices to building a better world. They are coming from across North America, and in the last year South America and Australia, to show up fully in their passion and commitment to “Truth Well Spoken” because they know our voices must be heard as we dream a new world into being. I remain inspired by the initiatives and courage of people who have chosen how to serve in times that are calling for our greatness.

In my support of people of purpose and catalyst of change, I no longer recommend or respond to “motivation,” that probe from the outside that tells us what we should think and do. Instead, I encourage and seek “inspiration,” the inner urging that says, yes, there is another way to be, and I can take a step that allows me to trust myself and the action I am roused to take.

Can’t say I miss the fanfare at all. In the midst of complexity, life is simpler. I am both grateful and hopeful, not because of a change in Washington, but because “we the people” are finding our voices.

With appreciation for your voice in the world,
Gail

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