Confessions of a Conservative Republican

2004-purple-america.jpgIn business, conflict is necessary to bring issues out into the open where they can be debated. It enables consensus to be reached or decisions to be made. In either case, there may be dissenters after the fact. It happens all the time.

Intel â€" the company that pioneered constructive confrontation - has an expression for those times. It's called disagree and commit. It means that, even though you disagree with the outcome, you'll lay down your arms and support the decision in the interest of the common good.

In my corporate and consulting life, I've seen disagree and commit work a thousand times. It's a good thing. But when folks aren't honest and straightforward, when they act passive-aggressively, it threatens the greater good. That's not a good thing for business or politics.

Speaking of politics, I admit to being a conservative republican. Not far right, mind you. Just right of center, and mostly in terms of fiscal policy. And I have a confession to make. I'm relieved.

I'm relieved that the Bush presidency is just about over. I'm relieved that the election process is over. I'm relieved that our beleaguered nation has one less thing to worry about. I'm relieved to turn this whole mess over to the democrats so they can take their best shot at it.

I'll tell you something I've never told anyone (but my wife, who was actually there). A few years ago, I was watching the tube and saw this Illinois senator giving a speech. I have no recollection what he was talking about, but I was struck by his oratory abilities, by the way he seemed to reach inside and grab me.

Being an ex-executive, a trained speaker, and one who has trained other executives, I could certainly appreciate his considerable abilities. And I admit, before I even knew what his politics were, I felt this man was destined for something bigger than whatever he was doing at the time.

Now he's our president elect. And in a few short months, America will have a democratic president with control of both houses of Congress and a mandate to bring about change and solve our nation's unprecedented problems. Much is at stake.

Just reading those words, I admit to being skeptical. And more than a little scared, too.

But I also have to admit that this morning - the morning after the election - I woke up feeling strangely optimistic. For reasons I can certainly understand, the majority of American's have united behind Barack Obama. And I have faith in America and the wisdom of its democratic process and its people.

For what it's worth, I'm ready to disagree and commit. It's way past time we became one nation again. And if this man can lead us there, I'm with him one hundred percent.

(Purple America graphic courtesy of Robert J. Vanderbei, Princeton University)