Robert C. Bordone & Sara del Nido

Listening to the language that most Presidential candidates have regularly been using in their speeches, it’s hard not to have a bunker mentality: battles, wars, and fights seem to be all around us. From Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, nearly all the current candidates have engaged in the rhetoric of war to describe their campaigns. Senator Ted Cruz provided an archetypal example of the mindset by asserting during the most recent Republican debate, “We need to stop surrendering and start standing for our principles.” Many media outlets are no better, framing such debates as fights and linking combativeness with perceived strength. The emphasis on “fighting,” “winning,” and “battles” calls to mind a combat mission or boxing match, not an election.

Everywhere we turn, it seems that our politicians are fighting for every possible cause. But against whom? And why?

Truth be told, it’s likely that nearly all of the Presidential candidates aspire to similar fundamental goals – economic and national security, quality education, freedom of expression – albeit with different strategies on how to achieve them. But what gets lost when these differences are persistently framed as zero-sum battles that the President must fight?

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Filed in: Hot Take

Tags: Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program, Sara del Nido

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