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Election News and Conflict Resolution



Now that the national Presidential election has been held, (and we sighed a sigh of relief or we were deeply disappointed in the outcome – which incidentally will probably make the history books as largest turn-out ever for a Presidential race), the race is over – or, is it?

At this writing, Joe Biden is the declared winner by all major media networks, most world leaders and a few Republicans, but thousands of people converged on Washington in support of the Trump/Pence allegation that the race was somehow stolen. Trump has not conceded and at this writing, there is not even a hint that he will concede. HE HAS NOT DIS-ENGAGED!

Why does this matter - other than the fact that the political and historical implications are among the most meteoric events in modern history? But it also fits into that category of professional negotiation, dispute resolution and reality that there comes a time when every person (or group) is faced with the decision to “Push, Pull or Disengage”. This dynamic is always present during every informal discussion, even formalized negotiation and public election (assuming a democracy is at the basis of the election).

I have read about it, learned of its importance, write about it in my own work and we at the Conflict Management Consortium (the training division of Lalo Publishing0) train others about it. An essential element of every exchange of ideas, whether it be by discussion, negotiation, litigation or public election is to know when to Push, Pull or Disengage. Some “fighters” will push or even try to “pull” their opponents to their side. Some “avoiders” will try to pull people into seeing how the other side’s position is a lost cause.

Some “collaborators” will see that positional discussion is inviting the other side to dig further-in. They will seek the common ground – even if it doesn’t show up right away.

They have the good sense to know that sometimes disengagement is the best course – for NOW. They can live to “fight later” to use the adversarial approach, but if they push too hard now, they may not be able to assert genuine rights later.

We use this in informal discussion, in more formalized negotiation, and in mediation (assistance of a third party in the negotiation). After all, isn’t disengagement better than impasse (no resolution in the foreseeable future)?

Isn’t a political campaign nothing more than a gigantic negotiation to win the “public” to a particular point of view?

Perhaps disengagement, especially in a face-saving way, allows for future engagement – and for possibilities of a more favorable outcome in the future. Our flawed invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush (firing essential Baathist party military and infrastructure people) was an historical mistake of gigantic proportions – which haunts us to this day.

Hopefully, as we come to see the reality of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, certain Trump elements in the Republican Party will see disengagement now as having more value than pushing to win – an unwinnable battle.

Please Note: AlI of us at LPI/CMC are professional neutrals when “on duty.” We try to be non-political in our writing and our training. Sometimes a political situation is so illustrative of a major teaching point, it will be used – as here. I have tried to approach this Election from the perspective of conflict resolution not a political position. Didn’t Democrats finally do that in the Bush/Gore race in January, 2001).

Charles P. Lickson

Front Royal VA

November 14, 2020

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