Dear President Trump,
Last night I read an article about a particular approach to problem-solving and it reminded me how much I appreciate a well thought out and reasoned position or argument. Granted, the article got a boost in this regard since I read it right after reading your interview with Julie Pace, which I couldn’t follow and left me feeling sick at heart and even more concerned about you and the country than before.
I know some people really like leaders who “shoot from the hip” and just say what they think. It conveys a forceful decisiveness that seems brave, a devil-may-care attitude. Sometimes that sort of approach is refreshing or actually needed in emergency situations. Endless hemming and hawing is tiresome and annoying. I do get that.
But a well-researched cogent argument is, in my mind, most often what is needed, particularly with the thorny, multi-layered issues facing our country now. Before this morning I hadn’t stopped to consider why this is true for me; it was just a given (so really not following my own logic very well). What I’ve come up with so far is that a sound argument conveys care (there it is again), investment, thought, and intellectual rigor. It is reassuring to both speaker and listener that the speaker actually knows what she is talking about and is taking pains to explain it carefully because she cares that the other person understand her point of view. This is actually huge. We do not have Vulcan mind melds to fall back on so we can’t get anything meaningful done if we can’t explain our positions well to others who do not share our perspectives or life experiences. The listener is very important in this equation too. If she is unwilling to hear and process the cogent argument then the speaker’s effort is for naught. In some ways, the listener has the harder task because she has to be willing to hear things that aren’t in line with her own thinking and figure out a thoughtful, cogent, respectful response that may or may not incorporate the new information. All this takes real care and effort. And when it is done well, it is incredibly rewarding.
I hope you find an issue soon that you are willing to put this sort of time and effort into since we need to see you making cogent, thoughtful arguments. We also need you to listen. Carefully.
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May your life unfold and intersect peacefully.