Comments: Thoughts on Mediation, Barack Obama, and Our Political Future

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Alan , Pocono Pines PA     06/02/08
Campaign mediation opportunity?
Ken Cloke sees, as do I, that if we can elect Barrack Obama and support his openness to talk with potential enemies and friends, great opportunities to move from adversarial to collaborative politics can emerge. Although Ken, Robert Benjamin and others have aimed high and focused on national and global peace-making strategies, I and some of my colleagues have started small. In addition to campaigning locally for Obama, I have sent no less than five communications to people at various levels of his campaign operation offering volunteer dispute resolution services for state and national campaign conflicts. So far, there has been no response or acknowledgment of any kind. Our offer has two purposes: 1) As an experienced political campaigner, I am aware that the heat and rush of politics breeds many small and large conflicts that can benefit from neutral intervention. 2) If mediators and other ADR professionals can field an effective team during the campaign, our success could serve as a model influence for use of ADR strategies in national and global negotiation. Already a number of blogs and other postings have appeared equating Obama’s willingness to talk, sometimes without precondition, as weakness. For example, I participated in a long exchange on with subject line “Obama: Mediator or Leader” where the original poster assumed that the two roles were incompatible. As Ken did when he distinguishes appeasement from effective negotiation, we can respond and educate wherever these false dichotomies appear. For now I have two requests: Please e-mail me 1) if any you have contacts in the Obama campaign, or ideas about how to access decision-makers in national or state campaigns. 2) if you would like to join a volunteer team to deal with campaign conflicts in the event we can connect with Obama staff. Should Hillary obtain the nomination, the same offer would go to her campaign, and it may not be a bad idea to offer services to McCain staffers as well. Best, Alan Alan E. Gross ( )