Comments: Obama’s Message - Mediation’s Political Triumph

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Jim Melamed, Eugene OR   03/05/08
To Clarify My Main Point
Folks, I do not want this to be a contest for who has supported mediation (for me much different than ADR) longer or better.

What I want to focus on is how the candidates run their campaign, including the messages that they are conveying.

For me, both McCain and Clinton are still operating in a dualistic, we against them, we need to overcome the opposition mind frame. I see that as our biggest problem as a nation and as humanity.

While I realize there are shades of gray here (no pun intended), I do think that there is a qualitative difference in the post-partisan collaborative message that Obama has so consistently maintained.

It is the integration of collaborative, maximizing concepts in the essence of his message that I think distinguishes Obama's campaign. I believe that our world desperately needs a new way of thinking about and addressing our problems. The oppositional politics of old simply do not work for me any more. JM

Larry Ray, WDC DC     03/05/08
Hillary-Long Time ADR Supporter
Greetings. I agree with Terry's comments. Hillary has been a long time supporter of ADR. A lot of folks don't know about her diligent work with the ABA where she worked for children including the use of ADR. At that time before Bill Clinton declared his Presidential Candidate, many of us at the ABA speculated that Hillary would be the first female ABA President. If she had, dispute resolution may have been one of her major themes. All the best, LR

Terry Wheler, Columbus OH     03/05/08
Remember Mediation is ONE Dispute Resolution Option
I agree that Barack Obama's participation in the presidential race has added great excitment, but I do not believe that we can give him credit for bringing the principles of mediation into American politics. As Jim wrote, dispute resolution grew substantial under Bill Clinton's leadership. Common sense and experience indicates that Hillary Clinton will also support dispute resolution. It is important to remember that mediation is one process under the dispute resolution umbrella - it is not the only one or the best one in every situation. In fact, a skillful negotiator will avoid the need for a mediator. Hillary's speeches include references to well-established dispute resolutions priniciples and truths - one process does not fit all problems. In fact, when one is engaged in a conflict, one cannot be the mediator. As a result, interest-based negotiation principle appear to be more important - and I believe Hillary is the candidate that best understands America's interests.

Bill Rainey, Wellington, NZ     03/04/08
From this side of the world, Barack Obama's rhetoric is a HUGE breath of fresh air. I do not agree with the sentiment expressed in one comment that a mediative approach may not be appropriate with high level international disputes. Surely the challenge for all mediators (no matter who they are - presidents or otherwise) is to have the courage to use communication between hostile parties as a first option. Haven't we all been faced with dispute scenarios where we initially think there's no chance of the parties reaching a mediated solution, only to be confounded and surprised by the power of the process.

Tim , Brunswick OH   03/03/08
Obama and Mediation
It takes two willing partners to mediate. Obama is likely to utilize mediaion tactics to solve some domestic issues. Internationally, he would be a disaster. Many, if not most, adversarial cultures look upon mediation as a moral weakness. "If only the Jews had mediated with Hitler..." You get my drift.

John  Fiske, Cambridge MA     02/27/08
Bring Us Together
Dear Jim: It is hard to believe we have this oasis in the desert. After so much talk of shock and awe and other bullying, suddenly America is focusing on someone who listens, who believes people should talk about their differences, who has brought about accomplishments through community work. Much as I marvel at the competence of the first viable female candidate for President in our history, I am exhilerated by a former Editor in Chief of the Harvard Law Review ("the smartest student I ever taught," I believe one of his professors said) who wants to bring people together. Jim, thanks for bringing into our consciousness what I hope all mediators have been feeling, a remarkable epiphany. Keep Hope Alive.

Larry , Lodi CA   02/26/08
Yesterday Hillary Clinton accused Barack Obama of believing in mediation: "In Mrs. Clinton’s speech Monday, she also portrayed herself as 'tested and ready' to be commander in chief, while accusing Mr. Obama of believing 'that mediation and meetings without preconditions will solve some of the world’s most intractable problems.' "