Elizabeth Warren and Positive Conflict

One of the lessons learned from the Obama Administration relates to conflict. President Obama believes in dialogue. More precisely, he believes in rational dialogue. And it was natural for him to reach out his hand to the opposition when he took office to start a rational dialogue. May the best ideas win!

We all know what happened next. We got something very different. The lesson learned is not that rational dialogue sucks. It has its place. But rational dialogue is just one strategy to use in managing conflict (which is what politics boils down to).

Before we can get into a rational dialogue, we need to establish some pre-conditions. One of those is mutual respect. Notice that republicans made it a point NOT to give Obama respect. This was an intentional signal that his call for rational dialogue was inappropriate at that moment. Obama missed the signal.

So what now? To get mutual respect, you must have equally powerful stories backing up the positions you take. So who is building up the storyline for the democrats? As far as I can tell, pretty much the only creative voice in this area belongs to Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts.  Here is an example.

Let’s see if she continues and if she can build a larger coalition around the stories she is building. Hilary, take note!


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