It’s not often that I come across a book about present-day politics that inspires hope in me. With the current extreme political divide in this country, it can at times seem hopeless that the United States will truly ever be united again. But “We the People: Restoring Civility, Sanity and Unifying Solutions to U.S. Politics” by H. Edward Wynn is not a blue book, nor is it a red book. It’s a non-partisan book that elegantly educates and inspires people to speak up and take action toward bridging the divided discourse that we are in right now – with the hope of making our government better.
I’m proud to say Ed and I have worked together for about eight years in many different capacities. He was a c-suite executive who sent me leaders on his team to develop, he was a coaching client of mine (and gave me permission to say so), and once he neared retirement, we engaged in career coaching to determine what his second act would be. This book is step one of his second act.
I say in the book’s acknowledgements that Ed makes people squirm – in the very best of ways. I’ve seen Ed succeed in both the government and private sector. He’s worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations and has experience at all levels of government: federal, state and local. But he’s a political independent, not a political insider. He’s an articulate lawyer who’s trying to build a conversation around how to solve this problem of divisiveness in our country.
What deeply resonates with me about this book is that it provides a foundation that anyone can take to get to the truth, discover the facts and take active steps to help the reunification of America. And I’m not the only one who thinks this book is needed right now. After being released earlier this month, the book has already reached best seller-status on Amazon, in just a matter of days. When I asked Ed why he thought that is, he replied that the majority of Americans (75% to 80%, in fact) are sick and tired of the extremes dominating our political debate and squelching our voices and now, we want actionable change. This book helps us do that.
Ed discussed the three things he hopes people take away from the book in a recent podcast with Emily Gindlesparger of Author Hour:
- The book is designed to inform people how government works, the things that we should have been taught in civics class but were not.
- Secondly, it explains what’s going out with the discourse we have right now in politics, and how we can move from being divisive and mean to constructive and humanizing.
- Finally, it takes on some of the most controversial issues and shows how, by getting alignment on our common ideals and listening to all different viewpoints, we can find a range of solutions that can be very helpful to solving these issues.
This is the introduction of the book from Houndstooth Press, as displayed on Amazon and reprinted with Ed’s permission:
Before we begin our journey, let’s start with why we, and you, should go on this journey. Why should we, should you, care about civics or political discourse?
Increasingly, many of us believe, and, I would posit, are being pushed toward believing by those in power that there is no good reason to care about politics. Both parties, and especially those at the extremes in either party, want us to believe that politics is complicated and dirty. They don’t want us to recognize what’s really going on, what the facts are, or how to spot the lies and deception. This is why we get spin, emotional appeals, and conspiracy theories instead of facts, and it’s also why those who attempt to return us to the facts and help spot the lies and deception are met with verbal (sometimes even physical) violence and intimidation.
Getting the facts is also hard – and it’s getting even harder. Few have time to read the source documents or to otherwise discover the facts themselves, and we can no longer trust a polarized and point-of-view media to summarize those facts in an unbiased manner. As social media has driven us to information-by-tweet, this problem has become even worse.
We might also believe that it doesn’t matter: even if we were to be able to get the facts and spot the lies and deception, it wouldn’t change anything. That is really unfortunate because it demonstrates that we have been indoctrinated to believe that we are powerless over governments that are supposed to derive their power from us.
It’s a lot like school bullying. Most such bullying starts with just a few people who are loud and appear to be powerful. They intimidate the majority to go along with their behavior to avoid any issues. When someone does stand up, they are immediately intimidated or harassed as a warning to others so that the bullies maintain their control. In reality, the majority doesn’t really agree with what the bullies are doing, but they feel powerless to stop it.
The point is this: We the People can – and must – make a difference. The overwhelming majority of us agree that we do not like the way current politics are conducted in the United States. We don’t like the divisiveness, the verbal and physical violence, the lack of solutions. If we, the overwhelming majority, don’t like the current state, why do we continue to accept it?
We don’t have to.
Because we are the overwhelming majority, we have the power to make a difference and no longer need to be intimidated by the extremes, by those in power, or by the divisiveness and violence. Working together, we can change all of this.
Yes, it will require each of us to educate ourselves about things that we should have been taught about civics but weren’t. It will require each of us to spot the causes of lack of civility in political discourse when they arise and to use simple solutions to turn that lack of civility and that divisiveness into unified solutions. We can reject biased, point-of-view media by something as simple as just turning off those outlets and turning to more fact-based sources of information.
For sure, changing the current state will take time, just like any significant change. That change will be met by formidable resistance from those who seek to preserve the power they derive from the current state. But We the People have the power, the legal and constitutional power and, perhaps most importantly, the power of being the majority.
Just imagine for a moment what this change would look and feel like:
- Political ads that focus on policies, not personal attacks on opponents.
- Resolving the most important issues we face together by focusing on the facts and having civil debate and discussion of our mutual objectives and potential solutions.
- Feeling that we can discuss those important issues and solutions with our colleagues, neighbors, even our families without shouting or changing the topic, or getting that generally sick feeling in our stomachs, or getting emotionally out of control.
- Reconnecting our communities and feeling a renewed sense of purpose, security, and safety.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
We can achieve it. It is within your power, my power, and our power. The power of We the People.
The idea for this book came to Ed while he engaged in a cycling trip across the country in 2016. During that trip, he observed unrest across the entire country and the general feeling by many that they were not listened to or heard or that their voices were drowned out because their voice wasn’t the majority position. He realized that we needed to switch courses as a country to express multiple viewpoints and voices expressed in a positive, kind way to get better solutions.
After Ed retired, he was able to write the book in just a matter of months. He made a commitment to me in a coaching session to have a first draft done by the end of the year, which he did. Ed says the hardest part of writing a book is the editing process. He actually read the entire book to his family dog, who he now describes as “the most politically educated dog in the country.”
Are you ready to join the grassroots movement?