I like understanding why people do the things they do. The 2016 US election is ripe with people who are making a big decision and has piqued my curiosity. I want to talk about something I observed from both parties that I believe contributes to their decision making process. I think many of the opinions about canidates this election season can be derived from one question:

How do you interpret the intentions and consequences of a canidate’s actions?

Intent

Intentions say a lot about someone. What was the purpose of their action? What was their goal? I’ve observed that interpreting intention is the first point of contention for many voters this election.

Defining intention seems to be impossible. Canidates do what they can to define their intention, only to be bombarded with alternative narratives from all sides. The narrative voters go with starts to shape their opinion of the candidate. Here’s an experiment! Fill in the blank for these examples:

Trump is withholding his taxes because _____.

Clinton used a private email sever because ______.

Ask this to 5 random people and you’ll probably get 5 different answers.

Consequences

The next part of the question is crucial. How do you interpret the the consequences of a canidates action? What were the positive and negative results of their actions? Everyone’s interpretation of the results are different. Factor in the unintended consequences and we’ve got enough spin to get a tornando started.

Defining the consequences starts to reveal more and more of the voter’s position. What facts are important to them? Are they even facts in the first place? What do they value and what do they shrug off? You’ll discover a lot about a voter when they articulate what were the results from a canidate’s actions.

Building Bridges

I am all about building bridges between people. I think it will be crucial that we put work into mending relationships in the years to come. Understanding what people think the intention and consequences of a canidate’s action is the first step to any type of real dialog. After we get an answer to the question we can really start separating facts from fictions. We can start finding the positive outcomes instead of trying to concoct a negative outcome for the sake of dragging someone down. Or, we can plant our feet in the ground and refuse to acknowledge fact based evidence. I would prefer that citizens of the US find ways to move forward together as a country, rather than push each other further apart.