The Color Purple

Estimates of the total spent on the election we all just survived hover around $6 billion.  No, that “B” is not a typo.  

How many transit systems could be modernized with that money?  How many more cancer research studies could be funded?  Or, perhaps more on point for some, how much could the nation’s deficit have dropped?  For those who funded SuperPACs hoping to influence the way this country works, isn’t there some sort of direct funding option?  And maybe that direct funding has the benefit of being a bit less divisive and perhaps even actually creates jobs instead of talking about doing so?  

In raising the questions above, I am joining the finger-pointing fray and so I take myself to task.  In the words of a very smart friend, “It’s time to move forward.”  Chapel Hill resident Vicki Threlfall was not parroting slogans when she said that, as she continued to say it’s time to “focus on improving- not winning.”  

She’s right, Congress.  She’s right, State Legislature.  No more gamesmanship and no more brinksmanship.  No more late night votes, no more digging in and being unwilling to negotiate.  It’s time to do the job you were elected to do:  work for the betterment of this state and this country.  

It’s time to get out of some schoolyard mentality and stop the bullying.  Americans are united by the fact of our differences.  To the man driving in front of me the other day whose bumper proclaimed the need to “Defend Freedom” by “Defeating Obama”,  there are other car tushes out these asking for different freedoms to be protected that I’m guessing you do not countenance.  Aren’t we all entitled to ask for freedoms?  Isn’t that what joins us?  

Let’s go beyond the need to work together; elected leaders should respect the differences between them.  Is it a question of faith?  It’s deserving of respect?  Does someone highly value education?  That’s also deserving of respect.  No more sneering and belittling the values of others.  How is it that the baseline of behavior expected from most children isn’t required of our leaders?  It should be and we should demand it.  

Sadly, I feel a bit like Don Quixote writing this, tilting at windmills.  But if we don’t talk about how it should be and what we expect from the people to whom we give these jobs and – don’t forget- pay their salaries (and their fabulous healthcare plans), nothing will change.  

Also, I recently saw this, a map of what the country really looks like, with very few states being all red or all blue and I decided that purple is my new favorite color!

Please leave your suggestions below for how to incite civil discourse or write to me at

On Making a Difference – Today, Tomorrow & Beyond

My heart goes out to everyone in the path of Hurricane Sandy – for the loss and for the physical, mental and emotional toll of the tedious clean up, recovery and re-building process ahead. 
The outpouring of support  has been inspiring – assistance in the form of  hours, goods, services and dollars – $2 million from The Walt Disney Company, $1.5 million from Walmart, and $1 million each from Lowes, Time Warner, Toyota, Viacom, and Wells Fargo.
Those of us without such resources may wonder if our help would make a difference. 
Some may wonder the same about their vote.
That’s why I broke my no-re-run-within-a-year rule and declared this as the Leadership Quote of the Week.

Anyone who feels too small to make a difference has never spend the night in a tent with a mosquito.
While we sometimes feel too small to make a difference,  each of us makes a difference every single day.
One that, instead of blood, may very well suck the morale and productivity out of those around us. 
Or one that can make a positive difference.
Whether it’s a $10 contribution, a pint of blood, an hour of volunteer time or note of encouragement,
it will make a difference.
As will each and every vote.
I invite you to post this week’s quote and/or share it at a staff meeting to remind people of the power they have to make a difference today, tomorrow and beyond.
If you or they need ideas, here are a few.
Today: Join in with ABC’s Day of Giving.
Tomorrow:  VOTE
Today, Tomorrow & Beyond:
  • See list How to Help ( through donations and volunteering) at bottom of this page.
  • If you live or are working in an affected area, I hope that one or more of the quotes in this special collection will provide reassurance, direction and strength to you and those in your lead.  Here is a link to:  Quotes for Tough Times.  Feel free to share with others.
  • And no matter who wins the election…wouldn’t it be nice to go out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing?

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing & rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.

Out in that field, it seems like we would more likely find ways to work together in our businesses.  In our neighborhoods.  In our cities and towns.In our states.  With other countries.

Let’s meet there.  Each time we do, we will make a difference to someone, somewhere, somehow.

Related Article:  Still Hit But Grateful: NC Picks Up from Hurricane Sandy


How to Help

See list below. 
If you know of any local or state events or organizations raising money to directly benefit hurrican victims in North Carolina, please let me know.
One way to stay up to date is with Twitter hashtags #sandyvolunteer and #sandyaid.

Cash Donations:

Food & supplies

Volunteer – Get info/sign up online at:


Paul Ryan: Romney's "Seer Stone"

“It doesn’t make any difference.”

That seems to be the one thing that TV and other media political prognosticators agree on these days. When the impact of Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential candidate is discussed, the end line seems always to be, “of course, as history shows, in the end the vice presidential selection doesn’t make any difference in the outcome.”

In an Associated Press news story a few weeks ago under the headline, “VP pick rarely makes a difference in the race” Josh Lederman summarized the impact of recent running mates:

— 2008: John McCain-Sarah Palin: “…Palin’s public stumbles were not likely what lost McCain the election. Rather, it was the economy, whose bottom fell out under a Republican president’s watch two months before Election Day.”

— 2004: John Kerry-John Edwards: “…Edwards lent a warm, personal appeal to the ticket… But in the end, Edwards played less of a factor in the race’s outcome than the ‘Swiftboat’ attacks that undercut Kerry’s military credentials at a time when the country was embroiled in two wars.”

— 1996: Bob Dole-Jack Kemp: “There may be a lot to be gleaned about Romney’s VP pick from Kemp, a tax-cutting aficionado who counted Paul Ryan among his disciples …. But the economy was still thriving in the mid-1990s, and Clinton’s personal life had yet to implode. Voters may have liked Kemp, but they were content to give Clinton another four years at the helm.”

— 1992: Bill Clinton-Al Gore: “It’s hard to dismiss the boost that Clinton got from picking Gore as his running mate.… Yet their victory in the election may have had less to do with Gore and more to do with Ross Perot, a third-party candidate who split off 19 percent of the vote—much of it from the Republicans.”

The latest polls seem to confirm this conventional wisdom. Ryan’s selection has not given Romney’s candidacy the positive bounce Republicans had hoped. Nor has it hurt the ticket as some Democrats had predicted.

Case closed?

Wait a minute. Or in the words of some pompous prognosticators, “I beg to differ.”

The selection of the vice presidential nominee, in almost every case, makes a big difference, sometimes a decisive one, such as when Lyndon Johnson won Texas for the Kennedy ticket in 1960, and when Walter Mondale delivered Minnesota for Carter in 1976. And as Lederman admitted, “It’s hard to dismiss the boost that Clinton got from picking Gore.” Without Gore’s energy and stability contrasting with Dan Quayle, his Republican counterpart, it is not a certainty that the bad economy and Perot candidacy would have delivered the election to Clinton.

Paul Ryan’s candidacy, notwithstanding the lack of movement in the polls, could be as important as any of the recent vice presidential picks.

Why? Because he can do something that Mitt Romney has not yet done: Tell us what Romney proposes. While Romney talks in generalities and platitudes about his economic plan for the country, Ryan has given more specifics. Then Romney says that is what he really meant.

Romney is a bundle of ambiguities and contradictions and hidden facts. What is his current health plan? His jobs plan? His immigration plan? His real position on abortions? His tax reform plan? What would his tax returns show about his personal approach to saving taxes?

Joseph Smith used a “seer stone” to translate the otherwise unintelligible golden plates into the Book of Mormon.

Smith kept the actual plates safe and away from the view of others. Much like Romney is with his secrets.

For better or worse, Ryan is the “seer stone” who translates Romney’s beliefs, plans, and other secrets into something we can understand.

And if he does, Ryan will make an important difference to voters as they decide who it is that they are voting for or against.