DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: Post-Election Therapy
As we push through and past the elections, it is perhaps important to recognize that most of us have suffered some low-level stress over the past several months. Seriously! This election cycle has been more punishing than promising than any presidential campaign in recent memory, with threats of refusal to accept outcomes, chaotic debates, threats of contested outcomes and simply outlandish behavior. I recently saw a billboard for a real estate company with the tagline, “thinking about moving to Canada,” and a picture of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Yes, both sides seem to fear the outcome and have misgivings about these candidates, and perhaps equally, those who couldn’t find a candidate to support for president were equally stressed out about feeling unrepresented. But it is time to move forward.
Breathe in, breathe out—and then consider some of the Messenger’s resounding lessons to take forward and steps to move into the next chapter.
Let’s skip past all the shock, denial and frustration, and move directly into some recommendations for redemption.
First, one of the lasting lessons from this election can be: Leadership is about providing inspiration, and towards that end, why not recognize what you did and don’t like about the candidates you voted for and against, and try to model the same or different, respectively, behavior in your own life. More specifically, our election coverage we did unearth some ugly behavior from one of the local candidates. In an effort to profile candidates for city council, we sent some basic, innocuous questions to all of the candidates. Many responded politely and with good information. However, one candidate for Medford City Council, Curt Ankenberg, sent back a troubling barrage of emails, accusing us of running a “smear campaign” and following up with several more emails, each increasingly personal and biting, repeatedly calling me an “ass-clown.” It was odd behavior. Over the subsequent two weeks, Ankerberg has continued to send posts to our website. Under various email addresses originating from the same IP address, comments have been submitted to our website; each a personal attack on me. (One resident we spoke with also informed us he also had met Ankerberg at a candidate forum, and the candidate threatened to punch him in the face; yes, troubling, antisocial behavior, certainly not befitting what we hope would represent our communities at city council.) It would be easy to be discouraged by such behavior from a candidate. However, and incredibly important to recognize, that for each Ankerberg, there are a dozen other considerate and respectful candidates. A resounding take-away from this election cycle for the Messenger is the earnest and thoughtful candidates we did interview and learned more about this election cycle. (Please see our Election 2016 section for all of our published stories and interviews) These are people who are running to represent causes and communities—and doing so for little or no pay in return. It is noble, and by and large, the process and the motivation of these candidates are inspiring. Take away? Don’t let one drop of poison spoil the well.
Towards that goal of optimism, we hope you will find a way to celebrate victory, even if not all your candidates or causes won. This is our “acceptance and hope” step. Not happy with the new president? Find a city council member or initiative that did win which you can rally behind—and celebrate that. Yes, accept whatever defeats there are for you this election cycle, and then find something positive and lasting to rally behind for the sake of your immediate community. Like, why not find an organization where you can volunteer time or donate money to support their civic cause—and towards that end, please mark your calendar to attend our Giving Tuesday event on November 29, 5 – 8 pm at The Holly Theatre in Medford. This event showcases a dozen local nonprofits. Like speed dating for civic causes, each organization will host a table where you can meet-and-greet the organization—who also will be serving a local beer, wine or spirit to give you a taste of what they are all about. It is a chance to become truly involved with causes that matter to you.
It has been a long, difficult campaign season. Let’s begin this next chapter.