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Staying with Conflict - Election Edition: A Conflict Practitioner’s Lens on the US Election

by Bernard Mayer
April 2016 Bernard Mayer

Introduction:  In this seemingly endless election season, just about everyone who believes they have any angle at all on making sense of what is going on has weighed in with their analysis.

So why not conflict professionals? 

Elections are in essence a way of engaging in social conflict.  Sometimes constructively, sometimes not so much. 

The very structure of elections leads to escalation of existing or latent conflicts—with the idea that issues will then be laid out, differences underscored, and voters offered a clear choice. 

Electioneering is almost never about what candidates agree about - unless it is that all of us in one party are infinitely better then all of them in the other - but what they disagree about and how they are different. 

So we propose that those of us who study conflict join the crowded field of opiners about this election.  We invite anyone who wishes to do so to submit a short (< 1200 words) commentary on the election from a conflict practitioner’s perspective.  The goal is to take a creative look at what is transpiring using the conceptual and practical tools we bring to our work— not to promote any particular candidacy.  And we encourage responses to what others have posted - the more action, the more interesting.  We encourage you to link to this discussion wherever you feel it would be appropriate to do so.

For our opening post we offer:  

 

Biography


Bernie Mayer, Ph.D., Professor of Dispute Resolution, The Werner Institute, Creighton University, is a leader in the field of conflict resolution.  Bernie has worked in child welfare, mental health, substance abuse treatment, and psychotherapy.  As a founding partner of CDR Associates, Bernie has provided conflict intervention for families, communities, universities, corporations, and governmental agencies throughout North America and internationally for over 35 years. Bernie’s latest book, The Conflict Paradox, Seven Dilemmas at the Core of Disputes, is just out (January, 2015).  Earlier books include: The Dynamics of Conflict, Beyond Neutrality, and Staying With Conflict.


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