Dear President Obama – Thank you for those long answers.
November 20, 2016
I don’t think I’ve ever done more than a single posting in a day, but today will be an exception. This morning, I opined about how fear and emotion instead of logic and reason persuaded enough voters to give us a president elect Trump. I blamed the amygdala.
A key point of that post was that Trump didn’t need well-developed policy positions because he was pitching an emotion-based message. During the campaign, one-liners, sound bites, and various logical fallacies were sufficient to get Trump elected. If fear resonated with his supporters, then that was what Trump was selling.
In stark contrast to Trumps single-sentences policy statements, I just watched President Obama in his last international press conference in Peru. As I listened to Obama’s well-reasoned responses, I realized that there may never be such a stark contrast between outgoing and incoming presidents.
Very things in life are black and white. There is complexity and nuance in everything we experience – at least for some of us. President Obama has been criticized in the past for offering long, rambling, complex answers to questions. In a Twitter-inspired world where a full 140-character tweet is a polemic, Obama’s five-minute answer to a question of how to achieve world piece is considered boorish and pedantic.
I will miss his thoughtful, longish answers. They made logical sense to me. All I had to do was listen and follow along. He provided background, context, and logic that usually lead to an inescapable conclusion. If his conclusion didn’t make sense, at least I had a framework by which to understand the differences between him and me. Differences are fine as long as they can be resolved through a fact-based analysis.
I wonder how Trump will handle his first press conference as president. I suspect there will be few long, rambling, fact-based answers. Instead, I suspect his answers will be short, emotional, anger-based, and always black and white. Hello, amygdala! His answers will be ideally suitable for social media and will be easily captured in a 140-character tweet. I don’t need to think, I just want to “Make America great again.”
But, we should not forget that nothing in the world is truly black and white. Nothing is simple. Everything is nuanced. Complex problems never have simple answers, no matter what a candidate tells the voters.
I will miss Barack and his long answers. Those long answers made me feel like he understood the complexity of the problem. They made me feel like he could actually develop a response, and not just come up with a reaction. Those long, rambling answers made me feel safe- it was a great eight years for that feeling. Yes, I will miss those long, reassuring answers.