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Divided and Conquered Part 2

by on July 30, 2014

Getting two sides to agree on solutions.

There was a time when the saying “United we Stand, Divided we Fall” motto  was used as a rallying cry in songs and in literature to convince people to stay the course in important historical fights.  It is a term that I don’t often hear as much today as when I was younger when learning about history in grade school.  Maybe it is a motto we should bring back to remind us all that our political divide may be causing our nation to falter and potentially fail.  These days our political climate seems to be hurting our country because of the divide it is creating between major parties, between races, and between religions.  Politicians can’t seem to agree on anything in recent years in order to make our government actually function, which is important as working together to improve our country is exactly what our elected officials are supposed to do.

Whether you believe that the government is too big or too small or has too many regulations or not enough regulations, I do think there is something that most people can agree upon: that in it’s current state the government is not working for us anymore.  Without getting into how to fix the government, I believe it is more important to first start with a position of agreement and work from there.

When you start off with a point of agreement, you then can start to begin on positions of negotiation.  Usually both parties of a negotiation will come into it with some biases of the opposing party so this will cause frustration and tension.  To alleviate these tensions and fears it is best to recognize those tensions and fears and come to an understanding of why the opposing party feels the way they do.  Even if you don’t think the other sides fears are warranted, it is important to recognize the fears they have and show a willingness to alleviate those fears, you have to recognize that the other side has legitimate concerns, otherwise negotiations are pointless.

Building trust is another aspect to consider in this process of coming to agreements and negotiating.  Often times opposing parties don’t trust the information that they are given by the opposing party.  Each side needs to clarify their assumptions they make about opposing information, that way those assumptions can be addressed.  Then it is also important to set up a system of promises and have each party hit those promises so that each side becomes more trustful that they will be more honest and reach goals together.

At this point it seems like a government may need a non-partisan negotiator in this process to make sure this process is being followed and met.  This could likely be done with both parties agreeing on an outside arbitrator with a history of non-partisan decision making.  The mediator should be responsible for keeping communication open and tracking the promises being met and making sure information being shared is meeting the requirements of each party.

As stated before it is important to come to a common agreement of sorts.  Both sides could put together a list of interests, and have the mediator highlight the interests that are in common, and have the negotiations start at those points of commonality.  And through these interests, options on solutions to these interests need to be presented, and a way to determine a method for picking these options.  After these options are presented then they need to come to another list of pros and cons of each option, along with opportunities and risks associated with them.  Then when these are listed and presented a solution can be agreed upon.

As the system stands right now, we don’t really have a technical process to agreement.  We have politicians trying to gain votes through media interviews, and making assumptions about the opposing party.  We have filibusters that delay any kind of agreement on an issue, via voting.  We have in fighting within parties and rhetoric from both sides that destroy any chance of even having both sides meet with each other on issues.  Right now our mediators are the media being used to promote each sides views and solutions, but you rarely see a table of differing views coming together to achieve a solution.  People tend to “agree to disagree” and the same discussions get repeated over and over again.


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