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Reframing the language of leadership: words that matter

Words supported by action matter more in leadership than anything else. Economics, money, tax policy and other topics often visited in this blog pale to the importance of the credible and meaningful words in our leadership conversations. We now face a critical choice defined by the words we choose to use in that public conversation. The consequences are enormous.

It has become clear that nothing in our lives – no other single event in the world in the past 60 years – makes as much difference to the future of humanity and the planet earth as the result of the 2020 U.S. national election.

That statement above is meant to be as bold and as broad as I can possibly craft with words. Likewise, the words that we use to frame the coming decision are equally important. This blog post is meant to gather the words of leadership that we want to dominate the public conversation and frame the distinctions to be made over the coming months. The words we use really does matter.


A choice between world leadership vs. isolationism.

A choice between globalism vs. nationalism.

A choice between inclusion vs. discrimination.

A choice between “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” vs. “me first” or “America first”.

A choice between civility vs. attack strategies.

A choice between negotiation vs. bullying.

A choice between individual integrity vs. criminal behavior.

A choice between open public process vs. special interests.

A choice between welcoming worldwide visitors and workers vs. closed borders.

A choice between higher taxes on the ultra rich vs. tax breaks for the ultra rich.

A choice between sexual equality vs. sexual discrimination.

A choice between infrastructure rebuilding vs. tax breaks for the ultra rich.

A choice between protection of free speech vs. criticism of the press.

A choice between independently verifiable peer reviewed facts vs. lies.

A choice between peer-reviewed data and propaganda.

A choice between the power of love vs. hate.

A choice between religious tolerance and equality vs. christian supremacy.

A choice between freedom to travel vs. a border wall.

A choice between crime fighting vs. citizenship screenings.

A choice between data-driven security technologies vs. locks, walls and fences.

A choice between open civil court process vs. ICE raids and interrogation.

A choice between criminal justice reform vs. mass incarceration.

A choice between crime prevention vs. ‘get tough on crime’.

A choice between rehabilitation of offenders vs. for-profit prisons.

A choice between open balloting vs. registered voter rolls.

A choice between ‘one man one vote’ vs. the electoral college.

A choice between wealth equality vs. shocking and rapidly worsening wealth concentration.

A choice between income equality vs. massive widening income inequality.

A choice between living wages vs, minimum wages.

A choice between miscegenation vs. white supremacist attitudes.

A choice between individual rights vs. government mandated morality.

A choice between security vs. unrestricted gun rights.

A choice between diversity vs. rule by old white men.

A choice between sustainability vs. profitability.

A choice between liability of polluters vs. cutting environmental regulations.

A choice between a focus on prosecuting major white collar crime and corruption vs. prosecuting street criminals.

A choice between climate science vs. climate deniers.

A choice between supporting the right to public protest vs. fascism.

In the end, a choice between life vs. death.


I will continue to build and refine the language of leadership used in my own conversations as the national discussion moves forward.

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