‘The future belongs to crowds’[i]: The rise of American ‘civil religion’

The 1647 Massachusetts Colony “Old Deluder Satan Act” required communities with more than 100 families or householders to establish grammar schools. Colony leaders saw the grammar schools as a means to ensure children acquired the basic literacy skills that would enable them to gain knowledge of the scriptures and thereby “confound the devil.”[i]

As time progressed, the United States public education system inculcated an historic patriotic-religious admixture reenforced to varying degrees through legal, social and societal structures and norms, including church affiliation and attendance throughout the nation., which remained strong until a few decades ago.[ii]

In terms of a harbinger, however, the U.S. Supreme ruled in 1943 students cannot be forced to salute and pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag. [iii] Some 19 years later, the high  court  rejected school officials’ sanctioned prayer and devotional Bible-readings. [iv]

Harvest Time Church of God


Rise of the ‘
nones’

The contemporary iteration of the Christian Charismatic Movement,  which shares some faith similarities with Pentecostalism, [v] occurred in 1960. [vi] Evangelical Churches had a strong emergence in the 1970s. In fact, the 1976 U.S. presidential election was termed “the year of the Evangelical.”[vii] (“Evangelicalism” is a term encompassing wide swaths of Christian belief and practices. [viii])

Eventually, some conservative Fundamental Christian churches,[ix] along with consenting Evangelical churches and branches or “breakaway” bodies of mainline churches, embraced conservative politics to “right” societal leanings or movements seen as affronts to these churches’ Biblical understandings or of social issues, especially abortion access, which the U.S. Supreme Court “legalized” in 1973, forming an easy alliance with the Roman Catholic Church to promote “pro-life” legislation.

Despite expectations by their leaders, neither movement  nor flourishing mega-churches, largely an outgrowth of Evangelicalism, staunched decline in church attendance.   Moreover, during the past several decades, pollsters document a steady rise in those persons who don’t identify with traditional religious affiliation – so-called “nones” [x] with a concomitant increase in personalized or individualized Christian beliefs, meaning one identifies as Christian without bona fides of organized faith practice or assembly – culturally Christian. [xi]

This development leads some researchers and pundits to conclude new groupings of Evangelicals are emerging, although a New York Times account includes reporters’ interviews of  persons saying they had lapsed in regular church attendance. [xii]

Comparisons with Europe  prove “jagged”

The fancy to compare developments in U.S. Christianity to  European Christianity, especially in terms of  Church attendance, is a jagged proposition primarily  because the U.S. is not Europe.

The United States’s religious experience includes an often-articulated desire for one to practice his or her religion – or no religious practice – without governmental cooption, although legislative bodies and courts prescribe lawful boundaries that respect largely  judicially-articulated church/state entanglements. [xiii]

Another difference: Wars and struggles between nation/city states, provinces, empires and monarchies emerged in wake of the Protestant Reformation. Historically, European soil is soaked with blood[xiv] from myriad revolutions, wars, including two World Wars, pogroms, genocides, the Nazi Holocaust, state-induced famines, ethnic, religious and cultural strife, leading European intellectuals and not a few political leaders to become fed up with God and Christianity,[xv] although churches remain open and Europeans embrace Christian practices such as baptism often desiring church  weddings and funerals. [xvi]

American religious expression, unfettering itself from state-supported churches in the early days of the nation, prompts religious diversity. Most importantly, however,  American soil, while soaked with the blood of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, Mexican-American War (Battle of San Jacinto near Houston) and the  American Civil War, warded off direct invasion by enemy forces during both World Wars, although Wake Island, Guam and the Aleutian Campaign in WWII  may “qualify,” according to some historians.” [xvii]

Civil religion and cumulative effects

Are we at a place where U.S. Christian “identity” is embraced decidedly  by traditional church affiliation wherein Christians are admonished to “not neglect to meet together” (Hebrews 10:25) as well as civil religion trappings, including:

  • Governmental invocations and benedictions, which may include representatives of other faiths;
  • Displays of Christian faith adherence by athletes, celebrities and other influencers;
  • Legislative enactment of bills requiring display of national religious mottos in public places;
  • Continued church affiliation/attendance by Christians whose expressions of faith may include emphasis on ministries to address social issues or to advance societal justice causes, which attract brigades of volunteers?

(More to the point: Has “Christian identity” always been a pliant term open to one’s self-definition or practice or non-practice, including civil religion emphases? To what degree should this be the ‘lead’ question?  Many  persons of other faith  expressions may contend Christian faith fares well, despite internecine conflicts,  in informing governmental policy, mores and customs in West Virginia and the United States.)

Loss of Biblical Literacy

In other words, U.S. Christianity, if ‘admitting’ greater recognition of civil Christian religion and if church attendance continues its precipitous decline which Gallup notes at 30 percent, [xviii] what might be the cumulative generational effect in terms of U.S. society, culture, politics, arts? How does diminished Biblical Literacy[xix] – see term in the Endnote –  bode for the nation in terms of societal response to complex social issues or questions? Will a potential void in Biblical grounding make some Americans susceptible to rhetoric and demagoguery by who bear tidings from a ‘Gospel’ of their making, including social media influencers, technocrats, politicians or political leaders? Or, has this always been the case with, perhaps, social media reliance being the predictive arbiter?[xx]

No matter, today’s Christian expression occurs in a world that may, unfortunately, lack peace or stability because of the rise of competing global powers, nationalism, myriad geopolitical pacts and reliance on war, fear, panic, terrorism, prompting the question whether the Age of Enlightenment is closing.[xxi]  Has the sky fallen for  some peoples?

“Is The truth today the truth tomorrow”

Moreover, voices generationally removed from  20th Century World Wars, the Nazi Holocaust, state repression throughout the world, nuclear threats and atrocities may decline conventional U.S. interpretations of these events, which begs the question: “Is the truth today the truth tomorrow?” [xxii] We may need to get used to newer historical thought interpretations along with entrepreneurial, “crowd,” spectacle politics, the notion “Summer of Love” politics and bipartisanship may be DOA in halls of government; and the rise of the sentiment only  entrepreneurial political leadership will steer us to calmer seas by displacing traditional or past government stances or alliances?

Bluntly put, these developments may be evolutionary but their import is intensified by the nation’s divided politics.

While historical precedent is no guarantee,  these developments could occur intensify through political  populism – perhaps a “safety valve” [xxiii]until settled times occur, allowing the electorate to determine policy outcomes, based on today’s emergent trajectory – no assurance everyone is pleased.

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” [xxiv]– that is by thinking globally, acting locally, let’s ensure a world emerges with largess of personal freedom, liberty and the pursuit of justice.

That world is within reach.

[i]https://web.csulb.edu/colleges/cla/projects/EM/smdeluder.html#:~:text=The%201647%20legislation%20known%20as,children%20to%20read%20and%20write (Contains complete text.)

[ii] https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED592601

[iii] West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) / https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/319/624/#:~:text=Barnette%2C%20319%20U.S.%20624%20(1943)&text=Students%20may%20not%20be%20required,contrary%20to%20their%20religious%20beliefs.

[iv] https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/engel_v._vitale_(1962)#:~:text=Primary%20tabs-,Engel%20v.,was%20increasingly%20pluralistic%20and%20secular / Engel v. Vitale (1962) Also refer to School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp (1963) / https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/school_district_of_abington_township_pennsylvania_v_schempp_(1963)#:~:text=Primary%20tabs-,School%20District%20of%20Abington%20Township%2C%20Pennsylvania%20v.,Clause%20of%20the%20First%20Amendment.

[v] Difference Between Charismatic and Pentecostal | Christian.net

[vi]1960 Charismatic Movement – BEAUTIFUL FEETBEAUTIFUL FEET (romans1015.com)

[vii] https://www.kubookstore.com/Election-of-the-Evangelical-Carter-Ford-and-the-Presidential-Contest-of-1976?quantity=1

[viii]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism

[ix] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christian-fundamentalism

[x] Religious ‘Nones’ in America: Who They Are and What They Believe | Pew Research Center (Some researcher consider the term pejorative.)

[xi] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Christians#:~:text=Cultural%20Christians%20are%20the%20nonreligious,practicing%20believers%20as%20nominal%20Christians (Most definitions are polemic.)

[xii] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/08/us/politics/donald-trump-evangelicals-iowa.html (May require subscription)

[xiii] https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/486494?journalCode=jr#:~:text=To%20Alexis%20de%20Tocqueville%20religion,French%20official%20was%20everywhere%20apparent.

[xiv] https://www.growlikegrandad.co.uk/allotment/soil-nutrients/bone-meal-gruesome-fairy-tale-fertiliser.html

[xv] God’s Funeral: The Decline of Faith in Western Civilization /  January 1, 1999 by A. N. Wilson (Author) https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Funeral-N-Wilson/dp/B0017ZK4NU (Critics contend Wilson’s book focuses on Great Britain.)

[xvi] https://www.salon.com/2016/11/27/europe-is-not-a-secular-paradise-and-americans-should-be-careful-when-embracing-this-myth/

[xvii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_the_United_States#:~:text=The%20Aleutian%20Islands%20campaign%20in,the%20use%20of%20fire%20balloons.

[xviii] https://news.gallup.com/poll/642548/church-attendance-declined-religious-groups.aspx#:~:text=A%20decade%20ago%2C%20the%20figure,do%20not%20attend%20services%20regularly.

[xix] Bible Literacy and Bible Fluency, Explained | The Biblical Mind (hebraicthought.org) (Comprehensive definition) Also refer to What is Biblical Fluency? – Spirit & Truth Publishing (spiritandtruthpublishing.com) Hard to secure a non-polemic definition

[xx] Consider ‘Elmer Gantry?’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elmer_Gantry_(film).

[xxi] https://yalebooks.yale.edu/2018/07/02/what-happened-to-enlightenment/ Some scholars contend Enlightenment ended with the French Revolution or use other dates. Also refer to The End of History /https://www.jstor.org/stable/24027184

[xxii] Quoted in New York Times (may require) subscription / https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/27/opinion/brat-pack-andrew-mccarthy.html#:~:text=We%20had%20become%20the%20avatars,but%20perhaps%20now%20I%20do.

[xxiii] Safety Valve Theory | The Free Speech Center (mtsu.edu) Also refer to Why Populism in America is a Double-Edged Sword | HISTORY

[xxiv] Considered one of Mead’s best quotations. Mead (1901-1978), U.S. cultural anthropologist who featured frequently as an author and speaker in the mass media during the 1960s and the 1970s. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Barnard College of Columbia University and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia. Several sources, including https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/search?q=margaret+mead#:~:text=%E2%80%9CNever%20doubt%20that%20a%20small,only%20thing%20that%20ever%20has.%E2%80%9D&text=%E2%80%9CChildren%20must%20be%20taught%20how,%2C%20not%20what%20to%20think.%E2%80%9D&text=%E2%80%9CI%20was%20wise%20enough%20never,people%20into%20believing%20I%20had.%E2%80%9D

‘Is the sky falling?’

The May-October 2024 blog editions feature considerations about the cultural milieu in which this year’s elections occur.

These are possible topics to be explored:

  • “Accelerationism,” both in its original context as well as its “appropriation” by various political groups.
  • The ubiquity of information, communications, social media and news sources and possible effects on voters’ perceptions of candidates.
  • Does the decline of bipartisanship best serve a divided or polarized electorate?
  • Is former U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse’s analysis of the ‘1960s headache’ and its effects on today’s politics ‘playing out?’
  • Sour grapes and sore losers: Is majoritarianism best fitting for the U.S. as a means to diminish “tyranny of the minority?’
  • What factors within U.S. Christianity led to the rise of ‘Christian Nationalism?’
    Does today’s populism differ from that of the past?
  • Does decline or lack of support in U.S. institutions result in the rise of personalized or entrepreneurial politics?

Frederick Childe Hassam (1859 –1935), U.S. impressionist painter, noted for his urban and coastal scenes. Along with Mary Cassatt and Henry Twachtman, Hassam was instrumental in promulgating Impressionism to American collectors, dealers, and museums. He produced over 3,000 paintings, oils, watercolors, etchings, and lithographs over the course of his career, and was an influential American artist of the early 20th century. Hassam demonstrated an interest in art early. He had his first lessons in drawing and watercolor while attending The Mather School but his parents took little notice of his nascent talent. He descended from a long line of New Englanders. His mother, a native of Maine, shared an ancestor with American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. His father claimed descent from a seventeenth-century English immigrant whose name, Horsham, had been corrupted over time to Hassam. Although not of Mideastern ancestry, he often painted an Islami-appearing crescent moon (which eventually degenerated into only a slash) next to his signature, and he adopted the nickname “Muley” (from the Arabic “Mawla”, Lord or Master), invoking Muley Abul Hassan, 5th a fifteenth-century ruler of Granada whose life was fictionalized in Washington Irving’s novel Tales of the Alhambra.

(The Greatest Display of the American Flag Ever Seen in New York, Climax of the Preparedness Parade in May)

Issue includes contributions relating to Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month with several contributors discussing how women have advanced – and continue – to advance, lead and guide our state and nation in various disciplines and vocations.

The words expressed are from varying perspectives, of course, but provide lens and insight by which to view issues facing our communities, state and nation.
Refer to Opinion

For more information on the origin of Women’s History Month, consult numerous online resources, including: https://www.womenshistory.org/womens-history/womens-history-month#:~:text=Women’s%20History%20Month%20started%20as,History%20Week%E2%80%9D%20celebration%20in%201978

Future Thematic Issues

Future thematic issues will explore:

  • The West Virginia Index: Opportunities facing the state (June)
  • Employment and labor-related matters, including workforce preparedness (September 2024)
  • Public and Higher Education (November)
  • 2025 Regular Session Preview (January 2025)

I want to thank those who made this issue possible, including, of course, contributors as well as Senate and House Clerks Office staff.

Black history is American history

Even before concerted efforts to stifle education and conversations around slavery and racism, we were often presented with a limited picture of Black history: The long, vast, varied history of people classified as the singular monolith of their skin color — distilled and oversimplified into a handful of names, dates and places to be trotted out every February like clockwork.

There is so much more to Black history than we have been taught. There is so much more to the history that we have been taught.

We learn about Harriet Tubman, Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We know Tubman for her work with the Underground Railroad, but not that she lived a long, full life after the Civil War, including joining the women’s suffrage movement and founding a nursing home.

We know Bridges for being the first Black child to integrate Louisiana schools; but we forget she is alive and well and still a prolific civil rights activist.

We know Rosa Parks for being the face of the Montgomery bus boycotts.

But long before there was Rosa Parks, there was the Women’s Political Council, which had been fighting to desegregate transportation for years and had organized the first bus boycott. That 15-year-old Claudette Colvin and 18-year-old Mary Louise Smith were each arrested (separately) for challenging segregation on Montgomery’s buses. Or that it was the WPC that called for the boycott after Parks’ arrest and that MLK Jr. joined later. Or that the Montgomery bus boycotts lasted over a year. That it was the hundreds of Black women who organized and walked miles upon miles in lieu of using public transportation that made it a success. Or that it was nearly 10 years between this watershed moment and the 1965 Civil Rights Act.

We know MLK Jr. for being the face of the civil rights movement, and especially for his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. But we don’t learn about Bayard Rustin: King’s right-hand man who turned King into a pacificist and organized the March on Washington — and who was an openly gay Black man in a time when it was dangerous to be either, let alone both.

We don’t learn about the successful Black Wall Street and its subsequent destruction in the 1921 Tulsa massacre: A thriving, prosperous Black neighborhood called Greenwood that was burnt to the ground overnight, destroying homes, businesses, churches and generations’ worth of wealth.

Our U.S. History classes rarely reach Reconstruction, and if they do, they forget to tell us how Black people (though mostly men) became literate land owners with the power to vote and became politicians who served in state legislatures. Until President Andrew Johnson revoked freed slaves’ land, giving it back to its white owners, and allowed states to enact a litany of suppressive laws.

Black history should not be confined to a few famous faces and relegated to one month a year. It must be interwoven into our history lessons, because it is an intrinsic part of our history. Black history is American history, and we must treat it as such.

February 10, 2024 – Opinion, The Dominion Post

 

Historian Carter G. Woodson

Known today as the “Father of Black History,” Carter G. Woodson (1875–1950) was one of the first Black historians to begin writing about Black culture and experience—and the second to earn a doctorate at Harvard University (W. E. B. Du Bois was the first).

As a young child, Woodson spent much of his time working on his family’s farm in Virginia, and as a teenager, he worked as an agricultural day laborer. But in 1895, he enrolled in Frederick Douglass High School in Huntington, West Virginia, completing four years of coursework in just two years. From there, he continued his education in Kentucky, at Berea College, a school founded by abolitionists, and went on to receive his master’s degree in European history in 1907 from the University of Chicago. Five years later, Woodson would earn his Ph.D. in history at Harvard University, writing his dissertation on the state of West Virginia after the Civil War broke out, titled “The Disruption of Virginia.”

Read more: https://huntington.org/verso/2019/02/historian-carter-g-woodson

A baker’s dozen strategies organizations may use to inform state-level policymaking bodies

columns

This is the fourth blog installment discussing organizations’ advocacy efforts and state-level policymaking.

Here are the takeaways:

  • Organizations may find themselves contending with policymaker aims contrary to long-held organizational values, which may be intensified by the rise of “entrepreneurial” politics and politicians, particularly at the national level.
  • Use of consortia (or broad-based inter-organizational alliances) may provide organizations the ability to affect policymaking in a broader, collegial sense, involving organizations having similar and dissimilar aims, although turf may prove prohibitive. (Admittedly, some existing alliances seek to achieve mutual inter-organizational aims or goals.)
  • Increasingly, ubiquitous social media venues influence organizational advocacy, meaning the need for consistent procedures and practices.
  • Organizations, operating through “multidimensional” segments, may be able to best address future advocacy stances, although balanced with organizational aims or goals crafted to meet emerging policy developments.

The baker’s dozen:

  1. Organizational advocacy exists as a continuum with eyes, fully open in the present, laid wide on the past while looking to what’s known or predictable about the future – Janus-like approach.[i]
  2. Anti-fragile[ii] isn’t the same as organizational persecution complex.[iii] The former may be growth-inducing, prompted when organizational stances, actions or proposals are scrutinized against policymaker aims; the latter, resigned defensiveness, which, at most, may yield  crocodile tears.
  3. Catastrophizing[iv] may be a formidable advocacy strategy if infrequently used or used to advantage. The sky is falling[v] approach often proves irritating not only to policymakers but also most everyone else. Catastrophizing may be apt if the organization provides credible evidence its core values would be eroded or destroyed because of policymaker aims if not modified,[vi] which differs from rehashed, historic cant.    Finally, no matter what policymakers do or have done, the sun appears each morning, although little immediate comfort or consolation. Hear Hubert Humphrey out: “Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts – it’s what have left.”[vii] Yes, advocacy groups will need to dust themselves off occasionally, climbing back into the arena. [viii]
  1. Canem adprehendit automobile or “the dog catches the automobile.” What’s next? What contingencies?  ‘Catching the car’ is different from keeping the car ‘caught,’ especially as mediated by elections. Policymaker/organizational scrapes gone badly, based on an organization’s defense of values or non-negotiables, happen. [ix] Repurposing an Eastern proverb, “the frog in the well (will know) nothing of the sea”[x] if the organization focuses on limitations, based on scrapes which result in ties or defeat. (Or, for that matter, seeing victory or partial victory as summative, aka resting on laurels.) Accordingly, policymakers may introduce nudges and boosts to widen an organization’s “appreciation” of policymakers goals, especially those perceived as voter mandates. [xi]
  2. As poet T.S. Eliot says, “All truths are private truths.”[xii] There is truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, which organizational  advocates swear to affirm when testifying before West Virginia Legislature Committees.  There are facts, data, information, statistics (data). Data, however, is wisely and widely subjected to interpretation by policymakers, various constituencies, based on variables such as timeliness, source(s), format, fact-checking or even anecdotal “data,” which often gains coinage when constituent share their truths with policymakers at public gatherings, in grocery store conversations, church, civic or community events. Hint: The best organizational approach may include combining quantitative and quality data, i.e., empirical research and focus group input.[xiii]
  3. Organizations should embrace consortia, which requires long-term, deliberative thought, although not abandoning advantageous coalition involvement. Consortia promote dialogue between and among similar and dissimilar parties, based on breadth and depth of shared, aligned or countervailing policy issues. Coalitions, by design, often end in “the middle,” providing anointed and invigorated energy and even initiative and cover for often larger, more widely known coalition progenitors, having much to lose if taking a unilateral position.[xiv] Consortia, again, comprised of diverse, non-aligned organizations, approach their tasks in “parliament” settings, whereas coalitions are established through invitational appointment of broad constituencies often to achieve singular aims (such as support or opposition to constitutional amendments). Consortia emphasize structured dialogue without an aim for consensus, issues position papers, establishing an array or “well” of data dashboards available to the policyholders and the public, sponsoring educational seminars, etc. Again, coalition membership must not be discounted as a delimited strategy.  (Of course, existing inter-organizational alliances support mutual policy aims, such as business, labor, or health care alliances.)
  4. Organizations, including advocacy departments, exist at various levels, with their leadership responsible for scanning the environment, seeking to bolster organizational strengths and to ward threats. Finding balance is key, equipping the organization to meet emergent – or long-term – demands and challenges. Moving those on the ground (rank-and-file), however, becomes critical. While successful organizations are advised to be nimble,[xv] their leaders cannot embrace policy shifts that “cancel” or “sacrifice” organizational values or non-negotiables.[xvi] If not preparing for emergent policy shifts, organizations may doom their rank-and-file – those on the ground[xvii] – due to changing policy menus, resulting from elections or overt acts of policymakers whose statutes, policies, rules and regulation may affect those “on the ground” directly. While wrong menus may  emerge, disturbing customary  orderliness,  the old adage  – “if you’re not at the table, you’re probably on the menu” – may prove telling.[xviii] Moreover, organizations can structure themselves with “forward-looking” sectors  – think consortia membership as cited above –  as long as messaging is clear, meaning the organization enunciates, through proper parties, official pronouncements regarding its policy concerns,  with means to solidify membership support  through “aligned messaging.” [xix]
  5. In the case you have not noticed, ‘summer of love politics’ seems on its last legs, although some observers contend 60s political mystique was felled by capitalism in the late 1960s, prefiguring today’s politics through policy actions during the last 40-50 years.[xx] Organizations retain stability in polarized times,  although seeking the baleful middle or rush to bipartisanship appears to be fading as a “go-to” strategy, certainly nationally. [xxi]  Wise leaders equip organizations to maximize potential for change so organizations will be or remain valued by policymakers, especially over the long-haul. The key is organizational  “multidimensionality,” that allows organization shape-shifters to “shift” or pivot, addressing policymakers’ emergent aims while retaining organizational values and non-negotiables to maintain resilience.[xxii]
  6. While Under the Eye of Power: How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy[xxiii]is a commendable read, is the world comprised of conspiracies, often “typed” as  including cabals of malefactors ready to edge the unalert into numerous abysses? This thinking is mainstream. Accordingly, elected policymakers are seen as most capable of dealing with complexity through removing ambiguities “efficiently,” by eliminating what a  federal health agency defines as “uncertainty intolerance.”[xxiv] Truth in part but liability in a larger sense because, as issues become weighted with greater complexities, policy dilemmas may become intractable, resulting in governance paralysis, i.e. Washington dysfunction, especially if balanced budgets are not mandated, but spending authorized through  “continuing fiscal resolutions.” Moreover, TV, podcasters  and social media types seemingly rush history to achieve their enunciated ends with real time efficiency, guaranteeing amped ratings – even cult status. Yet, does not history unfold generations later?[xxv] Wise organizations welcome open, expansive sweeps of narratives in a time when  generalists,[xxvi] including CEOs as preferred entrepreneurs, are besting siloed organizational staff. [xxvii]  Effective organizations espy opportunities from disorder while political bases may seek absolutism, especially in a time characterized by what Bret Stephens, quoting Tablet’s Alana Newhouse,  terms “brokenness.”[xxviii] Relatedly, entrepreneurs (or, at least, entrepreneurial thinking) is prized today as an economic prompt for economic development much as the efforts of 19th Century capitalist tycoons were lauded.[xxix] Moreover, politicians whose campaigns are framed around eliminating ambiguities or nuance appear to be on the rise, although policymaking is both process and passion, the latter often besting the former, because the public, willing to accept fundamental certainties, views institutions and process as increasingly suspect – a consideration Stephens also makes.
  7. Social Media, including AI, is ubiquitous. As a West Virginia Department of Education official reported to the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Education, policymakers provide parameters of responsible use for AI – as a matterof policy they must decide. [xxx]. Moreover, “X,” formerly Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, podcasts, and various forms of electronic media provide a way to influence policymaking in “real time.” Organizations, however, need policies and procedures for use of social media without sole reliance on this communications medium. Carefully crafted social media use can amplify organizational pronouncements.Think policymaker public hearings.Some advocacy groups, during the allotted time at the hearing, will mention supporting information is available on the organization’s website or will provide that detail at the hearing, including hardcopy.
  8. Organizations equip members with sufficient, useful, credible information appropriate to organizational divisions or levels, meaning variances, but, again, “aligned messaging” and the medium or media for such, including one-on-one dialogue with policymakers based on organizational positions held. For instance, school system excess levy proponents include both professional educators and school service personnel as well as school administrators and county board members – as regulated by law. Each grouping bears differing  messaging emphases, based on organizational positioning,  to enhance support for excess levies, e.g., salary and benefits enhancements, facilities enhancements, school safety enhancements.[xxxi]
  9. Advocacy is only one facet of an organization’s outputs, but critical in its own right. Effective organizations plan to, restating the above, function in the present, while looking to the past for direction and guidance, to embrace the future fully. Organizations whose leaders pull far ahead of members may place the organization and/or their positions in jeopardy. Moreover, policymakers often want an identified or “go-to” leader (or leaders) to ensure organizational positional solidity is being espoused, based on delegate assemblies, governing boards or other sanctioned or appropriate intra-organizational units having these responsibilities. Diverse consortia also provide organizations the ability to engage in “look-aheads.” Jared Diamond points out many advocacy groups do not have the capacity to fully realize their goals, although organizations – corporations in this case – may conclude goals such as materials recycling, energy conservation or alternative energy sources benefit society at large.[xxxii] Governor Jim Justice echoed a related sentiment when referring to fossil fuels and the state’s emphasis on use of alternate energy sources and enterprises in his January 10 State of the State address.[xxxiii]
  10. The West Virginia Constitution states:The powers of government reside in all the citizens of the state, and can be rightfully exercised only in accordance with their will and appointment.[xxxiv]

Labor West unions, school employee organizations, business groups, health groups, and other associations and organizations provide West Virginia citizens amplified voices to inform and influence policymaking.

As citizens we must not only hold ourselves accountable but also our elected officials entrusted to represent us.[xxxv]

 

Sources:

[i] https://www.andersonlock.com/blog/god-doors/#:~:text=As%20the%20god%20of%20transitions,or%20openings%20between%20spatial%20boundaries.

[ii] https://fs.blog/antifragile-a-definition/

[iii] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/01/11/how-to-manage-the-arrogant-victim-mindset/?sh=1c5237e038d8 Admittedly, inexact application, although there are similar elements at play between policymakers and organizational advocates.

[iv] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/catastrophizing

[v] Henny Penny,” more commonly known in the United States as “Chicken Little” and sometimes as “Chicken Licken,” is a European folk tale a moral in the form of a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes that the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling!” features prominently in the story and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical mistaken belief that disaster is imminent. Similar stories go back more than 25 centuries[1] and “Henny Penny” continues to be referred to in a variety of media. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henny_Penny#:~:text=%22Henny%20Penny%22%2C%20more%20commonly,is%20coming%20to%20an%20end.

[vi]https://annecorder.co.uk/employers-blog/understanding-your-workplace-non-negotiables/#:~:text=Your%20workplace%20non%2Dnegotiables%20outline,your%20workplace%2C%20colleagues%20and%20customers  is a representative read. %20end.

[vii]  https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/hubert-h-humphrey-quotes

[viii] https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/44567.Theodore_Roosevelt

[ix] https://www.mr-sustainability.com/why-how-what-who/clear-non-negotiables

[x]  https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Chinese_Stories/The_frog_of_the_well#:~:text=The%20Chinese%20text%20is%20a,in%20a%20well%2C%20has%20a

[xi] https://pure.mpg.de/rest/items/item_2513866_5/component/file_2514744/content

https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/breakingviews/gkplgbgoavb/FINAL2022%20-%20Reuters_Breakingviews_Predictions_2022_v5.pdf

[xii] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/t_s_eliot_

[xiii] https://betterthesis.dk/research-methods/lesson-1different-approaches-to-research/combining-qualitative-and-quantitative-methods#:~:text=In%20practice%2C%20most%20researchers%20agree,understanding%20of%20a%20research%20area. Or, 402054      https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/quantitative-vs-qualitative-research/#:~:text=Simply%20put%2C%20quantitative%20data%20gets,understand%20the%20differences%20between%20them.

[xiv] https://justassociates.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/new_weave_en_ch17.pdf

[xv] https://fundingforgood.org/build-a-nimble-organization/#:~:text=Nimble%20organizations%20are%20purpose%2Ddriven,organization%20also%20requires%20nimble%20leadership. Excellent read.

[xvi] See Endnote 6.

[xvii] https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/

[xviii]  https://quoteinvestigator.com/2020/11/15/table-menu/   https://www.haystackteam.com/blog/three-key-elements-of-messaging-alignment#:~:text=Aligned%20messaging%20unites%20senior%20leadership,effective%20marketing%20and%20communication%20campaigns.

[xix] https://www.haystackteam.com/blog/three-key-elements-of-messaging-alignment#:~:text=Aligned%20messaging%20unites%20senior%20leadership,effective%20marketing%20and%20communication%20campaigns

[xx] https://daily.jstor.org/the-summer-of-love-wasnt-all-peace-and-hippies/

[xxi] https://corg.iu.edu/programs/hamilton-views/comments-on-congress/Bipartisanship%20Isnt%20Dead,%20But%20Its%20Not%20In%20Good%20Health,%20Either%20.html

[xxii] https://dainamiddleton.com/shape-shifter-importance-building-organizational-resilience/ organizational shape-shifter

[xxiii] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/11/books/review/under-the-eye-of-power-colin-dickey.html

[xxiv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9747232/

[xxv] Interesting read: https://maineinitiatives.org/news/history-is-written-by-the-victors

[xxvi] https://davidepstein.com/the-range/

[xxvii] https://www.shopify.com/blog/entrepreneur-examples

[xxviii] https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/11/opinion/columnists/donald-trump-election.html

[xxix] https://online.maryville.edu/business-degrees/americas-gilded-age/ “…With technology booming and immigrants flocking to the United States seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families, they left their mark on the United States — and on history.”

[xxx] Joint Standing Committee on Education

[xxxi] https://joinit.com/membership-organizations-guide (Refer to” non-profits and advocacy groups.”)

[xxxii] https://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/06/opinion/06diamond.html

[xxxiii] “…We need to diversify our economies. We need to never, never, never forget our coal miners, our gas workers and our fossil fuels…I said diversify the economy. We could not just depend on one industry all the time…But we couldn’t depend on the one industry all the time. But we don’t forget, do we? And you know what happened? Because us putting another stake in the sand and saying we’re not going to forget our fossil fuels…” – https://governor.wv.gov/News/press-releases/2024/Pages/Gov.-Justice-to-deliver-final-State-of-the-State-Address-Wednesday-night.aspx

[xxxiv] https://www.wvlegislature.gov/WVCODE/WV_CON.cfm#articleII

[xxxv] https://wvmetronews.com/2024/01/10/heres-whats-good-about-the-west-virginia-legislature/

Electoral mandates and organizational charters as prompts for policymaking

The Verdict of the People 1854–1855

The Verdict of the People 1854–1855[i]

 

Takeaways.

  1. Unlike organizations’ reliance on charters to accomplish aims, elected state-level policymaking bodies formulate policy based on mandate of the electorate.
  2. A seminal 1969 work (updated in 1979) postulates organized groups have capacity to convince policymakers to “(assume) responsibility for programs sought by interests.” The author contends, “(The federal government) has become a state whose government maintains a steadfast position that any institution large enough to be a significant factor in the community may have its stability underwritten…”[ii]
  3. What role does personal principles or values play in policymakers’ decisionmaking?

‘Well-considered’ policy.

These entries discuss organizations’ responses to policymakers’ proposals, namely acceptance or by seeking to modify policymakers’ aims or through opposition based on organizational charters or other foundational documents. [iii]

This writer contends the “space” or, more aptly, the “tension,” between policymakers’ aims and organizations’ raison d’être, is the fulcrum by which public policy is made or, in the case of agency regulations, refined. That well-considered public policy will result in this process is open to interpretation but considered normative,[iv] given advocacy may be seen as “not mainly a struggle among competing interests over highly collective goods. Rather, it’s the public provision of private goods.” [v] And more to the point, “this shift in understanding influences our perception of the strengths and weaknesses of American democracy,” a point Lowi makes. “ [vi]

The electorate, policymakers and clientele memberships.

No matter, none other than an elected state level policymaker points out, in response to the two blog entries, policymakers, unlike organizations, are empowered by the electorate to exercise authority through adoption of rules, regulations, statutes, given the vantage of a 30,000 foot, 360 stance, although policymakers’ actions may greatly impact the “ground-level,” including classrooms, work sites, commerce and regulated ventures.[vii]

Accordingly, the “tension” described above may be expressed differently: how do policymakers “balance” mandates of the electorate with organizational or client pressures, given that segments of the electorate may be members of clientele groups or associations from farmers (West Virginia Farm Bureau) to budding businesspersons (Young Entrepreneurs), manufacturers (West Virginia Manufacturers), to those who support various causes from the ACLU West Virginia to  the National Rifle Association (NRA).[viii]

Consider these responses:

  • “When citizens can associate only in certain cases, they regard association as a rare and singular process, and they hardly think of it. When you allow (citizens) to associate freely in everything, they end up seeing in association the universal and, so to speak, unique means that men can use to attain the various ends they propose. Each new need immediately awakens the idea of association…” – [ix]
  • “In effect, to follow, not to force the public inclination; to give a direction, a form, a technical dress, and a specific sanction, to the general sense of community, is the true end of (policymakers).” – Edmund Burke. [x]
  • “A government is invigorated when each of us is willing to participate in sharing the future of this nation.” – Barbara Jordan. [xi]
  • “(The federal government) has become a state whose government maintains a steadfast position that any institution large enough to be a significant factor in the community may have its stability underwritten…”[xii]

 

 In camera[xiii] and  legislative process considerations.

 

Does policy emerge from largely private (as in camera can be defined),[xiv] settings, meaning the legislative process is essentially scripted or dictated “behind the scenes?”

 

Whether this observation, routinely proffered by the news media and, to use an archaic term, “goo-goos,”[xv] is true, partly true, partly true/partly false,  or patently untrue, advocacy in camera assuredly occurs through policymakers’ assent. Indeed, organizational advocates hope to secure favorable access for their clients, but with the routine disclaimer access alone doesn’t always convert into aspirational policies, rules, regulations or statutes. And, for those organizations who enlist support to advocates, advocacy is for the fearless – that is, those who can traverse marble halls, navigating the complexities of process, including timelines, meetings, public hearings and numerous other points of engagement client advocacy requires.

 

Policymaking process is critical:

 

  • Most aspects of the formal policymaking process occur in public, including votes. (There are, of course, caucuses or other executive or closed sessions or deliberations.)
  • Policymakers need sponsors, sponsors need policymakers. “Sponsors” include the electorate (or at least, in the sense of elected policymakers, voters or blocs of loyalist voters )[xvi]  as well as segments of the electorate represented by organizational advocates. Organizations provide campaign funds support to elect policymakers. Policymakers, especially elected policymakers, develop law, rules, regulations, through a formalized process with (or without) input from a citizen, the citizenry, or organizations whose clientele includes segments of the electorate. According to current research, policymakers “balance” both “predictive modeling” and “deservingness” – no small feat, with citizens and organizational advocates making pitches for both.[xvii]

 

Questions regarding alignment to policymakers’ aims.

 

The degree to which an organization is successful in securing policymakers’ use of their organizational input depends on some alignment with policymakers’ aims, which may be contrary to organizational goals and objectives.

Accordingly:

  • Should the will of the electorate (often expressed as a mandate or mandates) serve as the preeminent policymaking prompt or groupings of the electorate represented by organizations?
  • Should policymakers base decisionmaking on their individual values or prompts, which may be contrary to the perceived electorate’s will or that of organized constituents comprising segments of the electorate?

An ages-old question.

If policymaking amounted to conversion of data, facts, information organizations provide, would decisionmaking by  Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) suffice? Nope. Think juries.[xviii] Policymakers and organizations vie to interpret information conveyed, especially impact on clientele and/or the electorate, although policymakers may ignore the tidied rationality organizational (or agencies’) information or public sentiments proffer. [xix]

In the second blog, we discussed how the “sky,”  which “holds” the weather, provides policymakers an  “elevational” domain.[xx] Organizations may embrace or resist policymakers’ aims, beefing up organizational weatherproofing. [xxi]

Given non-negotiables, can organizations align goals with emergent policymakers’ aims?

Can organizations use accorded missional goals and objectives to imprint or lay claim to aspects of newly evocated truths, taking rightful risks, even  promoting innovation and creativity?

The summative blog entry related to this topic includes this writer’s “baker’s dozen” strategies to both promote organizational advocacy without displacing non-negotiables.

[i] George Caleb Bingham (1811 –1879), U.S. artist, soldier and politician known in his lifetime as “the Missouri Artist.” His paintings of American frontier life along the Missouri River exemplify the “Luminist” style. “The Verdict of the People” is the last painting of three in Bingham’s “Election Series.”  This painting depicts the end of the story represented in the series by showing the electoral process’s climax and the announcement of the election results. Bingham depicts a densely crowded scene conveying the diversity of the voting populace in detail. “The Verdict of the People” shows the men gathered in the street to express both triumph and disappointment in the election results. Women who were not yet allowed to vote in Bingham’s time look on from a balcony in the top right. Comedic elements and different narrative details have been included in the composition to appealed to the broader American national interest in life on the frontier. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Caleb_Bingham#/media/File:George_Caleb_Bingham_-_The_Verdict_of_the_People.jpg

[ii] The End of Liberalism: The Second Republic of the United States, 2nd ed. By Theodore J. Lowi. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979. P. 280).

[iii] https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/ and https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/01/chop-wood-carry-water-2/, respectively.

[iv] “The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.” – James Freeman Clarke. A recent newspaper opinion post stated, “We have no shortage of politics these days, but statesmanship is harder to find than a total eclipse of the sun. Why? Possibly because conventional wisdom that’s rooted in power, money, and control rather than public service guides our nation’s politics.”  https://www.denverpost.com/2023/02/20/presidents-day.

[v] Political inquiry as well as political action, therefore, “depends for its success not simply on the methods that enable us to solve problems, but also on “the judgement that enables us to appreciate which questions remain most worth asking,” and, by implication, seeking to resolve through political means.” (Hanley, 2004:A (2011) The promises, problems, and potentials of a Bourdieu-inspired staging of International Relations. International Political Sociology 5(3): 294–313. (Underlined text by this writer.)

[vi] Lowi contends, “The government expanded by responding to the demands of all major organized interests, by assuming responsibility for programs sought by those interests, and by assigning that responsibility to administrative agencies. Through the process of accommodation, the agencies became captives of the interest groups, a tendency Lowi describes as clientelism, which Lowi unabashedly contends “tightened the grip of interest groups on the machinery of government.”

[vii]  https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/

[viii] Refer to the following for a list of organizations for which registered lobbyists are listed: https://ethics.wv.gov/SiteCollectionDocuments/Lobby/Directory/Lobbyist%20Directory%202023/DECEMBER%202023/Lobbyist%20Directory%2012-15-2023.pdf

[ix] https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/schleifer-democracy-in-america-historical-critical-edition-vol-3

[x] Edmund Burke provides two additional thoughts:

  • “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
  • “When the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of (policymakers); the instruments, not the guides, of the people.” Burke was an Irish statesman and philosopher who spent most of his career in Great Britain. Born in Dublin, Burke served as a member of Parliament between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons of Great Britain with the Whig Party. Quotes taken from various online sources.

[xi] Barbara Jordan (Barbara Charline Jordan) (1936 – 1996), U.S. lawyer, educator, and politician. A Democrat, she was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first Southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives, and one of the first two African Americans elected to the U.S. House from the former Confederacy.  Jordan achieved notoriety for delivering a powerful opening statement[ at the House Judiciary Committee hearings during the impeachment process against Richard Nixon. In 1976, she became the first African American, and the first woman, to deliver a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Jordan).

[xii] The main argument Lowi develops is  that the liberal state grew to its immense size and presence without self-examination and without recognizing that its pattern of growth had problematic consequences. Its engine of growth was delegation. The government expanded by responding to the demands of all major organized interests, by assuming responsibility for programs sought by those interests, and by assigning that responsibility to administrative agencies. Through the process of accommodation, the agencies became captives of the interest groups, a tendency Lowi describes as clientelism. This in turn led to the formulation of new policies which tightened the grip of interest groups on the machinery of government. https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393934328/about-the-book/description

[xiii] Refer, among other sources, to https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/in_camera#:~:text=In%20camera%20is%20a%20Latin,not%20allowed%20to%20take%20part

[xiv] The “goo-goos,” or good government guys, were political groups working in the early 1900s to reform urban municipal governments in the United States that were dominated by graft and corruption. Goo-goos supported candidates who would fight for political reform. The term was first used in the 1890s by their detractors. An

outmoded term.

[xv] These sentiments may be expressed as “bipartisanism,” incrementalism, or efforts to vacate partisan extremism. Incrementalism was first developed in the 1950s by the American political scientist Charles E. Lindblom in response to the then-prevalent conception of policy making as a process of rational analysis culminating in a value-maximizing decision. Incrementalism emphasizes the plurality of actors involved in the policy-making process and predicts that policy makers will build on past policies, focusing on incremental rather than wholesale changes. Incrementalism has been fruitfully applied to explain domestic policy making, foreign policymaking, and public budgeting .https://www.britannica.com/topic/incrementalism

[xvi] This definition sees “In politics, a ‘base’ referring to a group of voters who consistently support a particular political party, candidate, or set of policies. These individuals are often the most loyal and engaged supporters, and they can be relied upon to turn out to vote in elections and to advocate for their preferred candidates or causes. Provided by writer, based on several definitions.

[xvii] https://mccourt.georgetown.edu/news/how-do-policymakers-decide-whom-to-help/

[xviii] “Jurors possess unique qualities that cannot be replicated by AI systems, such as empathy, common sense, and the ability to evaluate witness credibility based on non-verbal cues.
In the future of jury trials, AI should be seen as a tool that supports and enhances human decision-making, rather than replacing it.”  Source: Claims and Litigation Management Alliance. https://www.theclm.org/Magazine/articles/ai-and-the-future-of-jury-trials/2731#:~:text=Jurors%20possess%20unique%20qualities%20that,making%2C%20rather%20than%20replacing%20it.

[xix] https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/

[xx] https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/

State-level policymaking bodies and organizations: ‘weather, climate analogies’ relating to policy determination

“The Line Storm” / 1935,  John Steuart Curry  U.S. artist (1897–1946). [i]

Weather

Once I dipt into the future far as  

human eye could see,

and I saw the Chief Forecaster,

dead as any one can be.

dead and damned and shut in

Hades as a liar from his birth,

with a record of unreason

seldom paralleled on earth.

while I looked, he reared him

solemnly, that incandescent youth,

from the coals that he’dpreferred to the advantages of truth.

he cast his eyes about him and

above him; then he wrote

on a slab of thin asbestos what

I venture here to quote,

for I read it in the rose-light of

the everlasting glow:

“Cloudy, variable winds, with

local showers; cooler, snow.”[iii]

 Pop Quiz:

  1. Name at least one of the four common weather fronts recognized by meteorologists.
  2. T or F. There are few microclimates in West Virginia, although the definition of microclimates varies.
  3. T or F. Weather proverbs are telling, although not always exact.
  4. T or F. Altitudes affect elevations differently.

(Answers in Endnote.[iv])


Weather-auguring.

Those reared on farms gain inordinate respect for weather.

Farmers augur about the weather, relying largely on scientific forecasting accuracy. My grandmother, however, also had  allegiance to  “signs of the Moon.”[v]

When a wiseacre eldest grandson confronted her with the incongruence of her normative Christian faith and its admonitions against astrology,[vi] she responded with matriarchal pragmatism – “Maybe. Maybe not.”

Farming involves gambling with the weather:

Farmers rely on good weather to grow our food – too much rain can lead to rotting plants, and sufficient rainfall makes it difficult to grow crops and feed animals. Too much wind can make planting difficult, and freezing temperatures can stunt plant growth. [vii]

Mixing climatology and meteorology:[viii]

Land and weather go hand in hand when determining everyday forecasts. As the atmosphere moves over different types of terrain, weather characteristics change.

Let’s consider an analogy based on state-level policymakers ‘residing’ at higher altitudes or elevations. [ix]

From these climes, policymakers’ actions affect those at various organizational “elevations,” especially at the ‘ground-level.’ [x]

Operating from higher elevations, policymakers “view”  ground-happenings from a 30,000, 360-degree vantage. [xi]

Those on the ground may fear policymakers’ aims will disrupt or disturb the long-negotiated ‘balance’ that exists between the organization as a whole and its segments, comprising the evolved architecture of how the organization works, reinforced by its culture to protect core “non-negotiable” values. [xii]

Not surprisingly, state-level policymakers may conclude this organizational ‘balance’ impedes policymakers’ aims, including higher-level results, outputs, efficiencies.

 

‘Weatherproofing.’[xiii]

“Weatherproofing” allows organizations to modify, mitigate or reshape state-level policymakers’ aims.

“Cant” is the most basic weatherproofing[xiv] – (often can’t or won’t to state-level policymakers, rhetoric, “happy talk”[xv] or even hooey to others). Cant serves as worthy weatherproofing until policymakers embrace other truths, readying such to achieve concentrated policy aims. Note: Based on this writer’s work with state-level policymaking bodies, both rationality and expansiveness, the tension between those two ideals provides a format for policymaking. Paraphrasing poet T.S. Eliot,  “’All significant (policymaker or organizational) truths are private (policymaker or organizational) truths.’” The melding of those “private truths,”  as held by both policymaking bodies and organizations, inform the policymaking process, creating sound policy.

Weatherproofing is also typified by the linguistic conjunction ‘but,’ with especial emphasis on contrasts: “the  sky is brilliant, clear, sunshiny, but its’s very cold.” This weatherproofing signals the organization “acknowledges” state-level policymakers’ aims have some merit, but with these reservations.

The above weatherproofing examples amount to “typecasting,”[xvi] which, like weather-forecasting, relies upon “longitudinal” or historic organizational responses applied to current, prevailing, or prospective  policymakers’  aims.

Other examples of weatherproofing:

  • Organizations “negotiate” outcomes to alter policymakers’ aims. Bartering requires both political and organizational leadership and membership cachet. Admittedly, policymakers often invite organizations into varying degrees of dialogue concerning contemplated policy emphases – sometimes providing nudges for “negotiating” prospective rules, regulations or statutes.
  • ‘We’re against this.’ Organizations object to policymakers’ aims through campaigns, implementational inaction of laws, or litigation. This approach, which may prove costly in a longitudinal political sense, prevails if the organization leverages support of its leadership and members, especially if combined with public, news media or constituencies’ favor.
  • Third-way political stratagem.[xvii] Organizations optimize potential through fluidity, nimbleness and adaptiveness strategies without loss of membership or allies’ support.

Other analogies.

Policymaking weather or climate analogies include:

  • “Red at night, sailors’ delight; red at morning, sailors’ warning,” relating to forecasting or predictability.[xviii]
  • Microclimates relate to the granular nature of policy shifts which may affect intra-organizational constituencies discretely. [xix]
  • Clear day visibility, although the norm, is subject to weather vagaries.[xx]

Sunshine/rain happen.

No less than Scripture tells us “…the sun rises on the evil and the good…and rain on the just and unjust.” (Matthew 5:45-47 – KJV).

Indeed, to be effective in its advocacy, auguring isn’t necessary. Rather, by ensuring its rhetoric and actions are multidimensional, the organization becomes a valued resource to shape and guide policy. Instead of the facile but ineffectual “either-or,” the organization operates from a “both-and” dialectic, realizing that sunshine/rain happen, meaning concentration of organizational resources and energies to what’s best for the organization prospectively, meaning organizational leaders or “influencers” forgo the instinctive maintenance of a house built upon the sands of past accomplishments: everyone else – surprise, surprise – has moved on. As poet Mark Strand says, “’The future is always beginning now’.” The effective organization sees the clearing ahead. Instead of surrendering non-negotiable core values, effective organizational advocacy includes locating a – the – ‘clearing’ in which to inform and aid policymakers. This occurs through reliance on varying strata of both entrenched and emergent core values, playing the hand (or both hands) as situations demand. In times of policy transition, organizational fixation on ‘stationary patterns’ results in landscapes much like those littered by bad weather: not pretty and a lot of clean-up.

Indeed, West Virginians know a thing or two about ravages of bad weather. We rebuild. Neighbor helping neighbor, rebuking today’s rampant tribalism.

Every organization committed to this state, builds for the future, fashioning the present as the vista that is the future rather than clinging to the ready, easy gateway the past provided.

As Hubert H. Humphrey, 38th U.S. Vice President said, “Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts – it’s what have left.” Or, paraphrasing poet Emily Dickinson, to “…dwell in possibility,” combined with an Eastern aphorism: “Great Faith. Great Doubt. Great Effort.” – gateways to sound policymaking.[xxi]

You see, folks, trade groups and not-for-profits and non-profit organizations build West Virginia’s future by looking ahead, making the best of whatever sailing winds they are thrown.

Next posts.

How? In the next two blog posts, let’s explore strategies that maximize organizational effectiveness, given an entrenched and emergent “core-values” emphasis.

[i] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Steuart_Curry_-_The_Line_Storm.jpg

[ii]  Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), U.S. satirist, author of “The Devil’s Dictionary.”

[iii]  Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914), U.S. satirist, author of “The Devil’s Dictionary.”

[iv] Pop Quiz:

  1. Name at least one of the four common weather fronts recognized by meteorologists / Cold Front, Warm Front, Stationary Front, Occluded Front / https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/how-weather-works/weather-fronts#:~:text=There%20are%20four%20different%20types,stationary%20fronts%2C%20and%20occluded%20fronts
  2. T or F. There are few microclimates in West Virginia, although the definition of microclimates varies. (Refer to EN xvii.)
  3. T or F. Weather proverbs are telling, although not always exact. (Refer to EN xvi.)
  4. T or F. Altitudes affect elevations differently. (Refer to EN viii.)

[v] http://www.soilcropandmore.info/Newsletter/Zodiac/PlantingByTheMoon.htm

[vi] https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-does-the-bible-say-about-astrology.html serves as a representative read.

[vii].https://www.agfoundation.org/news/how-does-weather-affect-farming#:~:text=Mar%2F6%2F2023,temperatures%20can%20stunt%20plant%20growth 

[viii] https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/weather-vs-climate#:~:text=Whereas%20weather%20refers%20to%20short,regions%20can%20have%20different%20climates.

[ix] https://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Ourea.html / Civilization invariably use higher realms, especially mountains, as sites of power and authority.

[x] As state climatologist Kevin Law, Ph.D., West Virginia State Climatologist, Marshall University Professor Department of Geography states, “(One) typically references ‘elevation’ when (one is) referring to the land as in the height above sea level. For example, Huntington may have an approximate elevation of 600 ft above sea level. ‘Altitude’ is typically referred to as a height in the atmosphere and is commonly used by pilots. Actually, there are different types of altitude referenced by pilots. (Based on email exchange with author.)  Since weather occurs in the atmosphere, we typically reference clouds at certain “altitudes” in the atmosphere, but they impact people at different ‘elevations’ on the ground.”

[xi] These are representatives readings. As one will note, not all scholars appreciate the 30,000 feet concept.
https://manifold.umn.edu/read/grounded/section/107c47e1-f3e1-4f1b-ae65-b301142f4b3f
/ https://nanoglobals.com/glossary/30000-foot-view/ https://organizationimpact.com/perspective-30000-feet-weeds-somewhere-middle/

[xii] Refer to inaugural blog entry: (Scott add reference.)

[xiii] Representative definition: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/weatherproofing

[xiv] language peculiar to a specified group or profession and regarded with disparagement. (Oxford dictionary)

[xv] optimistic talk. According to most sources, the term is appropriated from  “Happy Talk,” a show tune from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.

[xvi] https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/typecast#:~:text=To%20typecast%20someone%20is%20to,roles%20over%20and%20over%20again.

[xvii] These are representative readings: Clinton’s 3rd Way https://publicsociology.berkeley.edu/publications_pdfs/producing/weir.pdf /The Collapse of Bill Clinton’s Third Way /Margaret Weir University of California, Berkeley /https://academic.oup.com/book/705/chapter-abstract/135378831?redirectedFrom=fulltext /
https://academic.oup.com/book/705/chapter-abstract/135378831?redirectedFrom=fullte My use of the term is general.

[xviii] Within limits, there is truth in this saying.https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/meteorology-climatology/item/is-the-old-adage-red-sky-at-night-sailors-delight-red-sky-in-morning-sailors-warning-true-or-is-it-just-an-old-wives-tale/ Also refer to https://www.weather.gov/rah/virtualtourfcstobsanalysis#:~:text=Weather%20forecasts%20are%20made%20by,how%20the%20atmosphere%20will%20evole regarding the National Weather Service’s means of weather forecasting.

[xix] As Dr. Law explains: “(…The number of microclimates in WV  is “…a difficult (question). It’s true there are a large number of “microclimates” throughout the state, perhaps even “thousands” as you said someone had testified (Editor’s Note: during interminable legislative hearings relating to school calendar and prompts for “calling off school” because of inclement weather). However, those ‘thousands’ are not entirely unique and different from each other. Let me explain:  Around your home/property, you may have a microclimate next to your house as plants are protected from frost by absorbing heat from the exterior (brick) of the house. You may have another microclimate that is on your property at the bottom of a hill where cold air collects at night and frequently gets frost. Then you may have another microclimate on your property at the top of the hill, that may be protected from frosts due to temperature inversions that can form at night. A neighbor down the road could have another 3 or perhaps more microclimates around their property. You can see how the overall number of microclimates quickly add up, but your neighbor’s group of microclimates, are probably not much different than yours.

[xx][xx] As Dr. Law states, “The official meteorological definition of “visibility” is the greatest distance you can see in any given direction with the unaided eye along the horizon. For example, at the airports if they report a 10 mi visibility, the skies are fairly clear.”

Finally, Dr. Law recommends:

 

  • Scientific American regarding an explanation to one of the most famous weather proverbs: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-scientific-valid/
  • Author George Freier work, containing a variety of old weather proverbs and folklore and explains their validity: https://www.amazon.com/Weather-proverbs-sayings-accurately-explain/dp/1555610102

[xxi] https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52197/i-dwell-in-possibility-466 (Literary analysist contend Dickinson is comparing prose to poetry, with poetry having great latitude for expansive thinking, including this representative read: https://www.litcharts.com/poetry/emily-dickinson/i-dwell-in-possibility#:~:text=The%20speaker%20discusses%20what%20makes,which%20Dickinson%20dedicated%20her%20life.

“Chop wood, carry water.”

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”

Without resorting to vogue “be(ing) in the moment” and/or the ubiquitous “mindfulness,”[i] the chop wood, carry water approach is typified by the organization eschewing obsessiveness or undue anxiety about future consequences of its decision- making if decisions are grounded in fit, sound, humane approaches that promote or preserve organizational “non-negotiables”[ii]  (foundational goals/’ends’) –  or the vernacular “hills to die on.”[iii]

Of Sasse, Wenner, Zhou Enlai, Martin Luther

Indeed, former Sen. Ben Sasse (now University of Florida president) concludes the “1960s (produce) a hangover for almost every fight we have today”[iv] – a point stated differently by Jann Wenner, co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, who said, “I don’t think rock ‘n’ roll changed everything. I don’t think rock ‘n’ roll overturned segregation or the war in Vietnam, but we played huge parts in it (both) consciously and unconsciously…”[v] (Wenner’s interview proved personally costly for other sentiments he stated.) [vi]  

Similarly, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, asked about the impact of the French Revolution, replied, “Too early to say.”  The intent of the premier’s comments, made in 1972, are debated. Is his reference to the 1789 French Revolution  or to a 1968 student uprising in Paris, which essentially shut down the country for a few weeks in summer 1968?[vii]  

“Still plant an apple tree.”

Protestant reformer Martin Luther, when asked about the end of the world, replied, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant an apple tree.”[viii]

The Sasse, Zhou Enlai and Luther quotes illustrate that organizations, through their leadership and outputs, leave conscious or unconscious current and prospective imprints,[ix] although entities aren’t alone in this regard:

  • Circa early 1990s, Canadians, primarily college students, were paid to plant black spruce trees – six feet apart in neat rows  – to mitigate environmental effects of timber clear-cutting. Decades later, those plantings may have exacerbated 2023 Canadian wildfires.”[x]
  • Myriad chemical compounds, considered blessings as introduced, produce environmental or health chaos years later.
  • “Victors” in 2022 United States Supreme Court rulings relating to Roe v. Wade contend  with the potential of  fifty-state referenda regarding abortion, which aren’t  tallying in their favor. [xi]
  • And, of course, consider all things COVID-19.

Of course, the “converse” may be true, namely not all “consequences” are bad – think medicinal compounds, having one purpose but aiding with other health conditions. 

The paradox of ‘living in the moment’

Organizations are human resource endeavors characterized by both tangible (widgets) or intangible outputs – policy, laws, rules, regulations. (AI, of course, is an emergent consideration[xii] as well as the rise of entrepreneurial tech influencers.[xiii])


Organizations, existing on a continuum, are increasingly urged to become adaptive and entrepreneurial to best compete in an ever-flattening world, although organizational structures don’t always accommodate or sustain entrepreneurship.[xiv] 

Admittedly, organizational leadership must be fitted to secure the organization’s short- and long-term viability, including the rise of the generalist leader – the focus of Range: Why Generalists Triumph In a Specialized World.[xv]

No matter, these words of Robert Hunter also ring true:

Everything you (the organization in this case) cherish

Throws you over in the end

Thorns will grab your ankles

From the gardens you tend.[xvi]

‘Persist, pivot or concede’

Matthew McConaughey’s “persist, pivot or concede,” [xvii] may be applicable when an organization’s trade winds change as policymakers and funders fixate on the organization’s “architecture” – the schema of how organization carries out its mission as having evolved by influences of time and internal and external considerations – to achieve larger policymaker aims.

Faced with change, organizations, often – certainly not always – have temporal “windows” to embrace policymakers’ nudges and boosts[xviii] to refocus policy dynamics. Organizational non-negotiables, however, create homeostasis (equilibrium) even symmetry,[xix] balancing disparate parts within the organization or to hedge the organization’s threats. When policymakers, having higher-charged leverage, namely long-haul funding, or regulatory prowess, seek to rearrange or supplant“ organizational architectural” non-negotiables, organizations often see these developments as threatening core organizational worth and value. Thus, preservation of  non-negotiables are greatly magnified often becoming the organizational mission. 

Accordingly, is Aaron Tippen’s “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything,”[xx]the best  organizational stance when policymakers, having a broader perspective, seek to reframe the organization prospectively?[xxi]

We’ll explore these considerations in future blog posts. Meanwhile, in the spirit of  residing “in the moment,” I recommend Kipling’s “If” as well as provide historical context for a literally fatalistic phrase we hear almost daily. I invite your input as we For existentialists among us, I include a Gertrude Stein quote. Visi


[i] https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/84536 is a representative read. Also consider  https://unifiedmindfulness.com/mindfulness-good-business or https://hbr.org/2021/03/where-mindfulness-falls-short

[ii] https://www.mr-sustainability.com/why-how-what-who/clear-non-negotiables#on. The author states, “Clear non-negotiables are the rules everyone in the organization adheres to in order to achieve the cause. They provide clear guidelines and rules for the organization to operate in. They are the framework and basis for cooperation.”

[iii] https://grammarist.com/idiom/the-hill-you-want-to-die-on/

[iv] https://conversationswithtyler.com/episodes/ben-sasse/

[v] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/15/arts/jann-wenner-the-masters-interview.html Wenner’s complete quote, “Both consciously and unconsciously. Despite the Trump thing, despite the Republican presidents of the last 30 years, which have held back enormous amounts of progress, society has become so much more liberal. I think rock ’n’ roll played a huge role in that. Did it do everything? No. Was it the sole thing? No. But we did a lot.”

[vi] https://apnews.com/article/jann-wenner-rolling-stone-rock-hall-4052a04c35ce13cc2b17b5455ebe6883.)

[vii] https://professorbuzzkill.com/qnq-26-zhou-enlai/

[viii] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/martin_luther_380369

[ix] “…(Political) change is fantastically difficult and often takes decades. But the degree of difficulty is only part of the story.” Those of the words of Op-ed columnist David Leonhardt who quotes author Fredrik deBoer who argues progressive social reformers “…also bear some responsibility for their disappointments. Above all, they made decisions geared more toward changing elite segments of American society — like academia, Hollywood and the national media — than toward passing new laws and changing most people’s lives.” For Leonhardt’s article, refer to   https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/26/briefing/me-too-black-lives-matter-occupy-wall-street.html Also refer to

https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2023/09/01/how-elites-ate-social-justice-movement-fredrik-deboer-review/

[x] https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/15/opinion/wildfires-treeplanting-timebomb.html

[xi] https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/08/08/ohio-ballot-republicans-00110169

[xii] https://hbr.org/2023/08/ai-wont-replace-humans-but-humans-with-ai-will-replace-humans-without-ai#  https://hbr.org/2023/08/ai-wont-replace-humans-but-humans-with-ai-will-replace-humans-without-ai#:

[xiii] “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do it.” – Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder.   

[xiv] https://hbr.org/2017/03/hiring-an-entrepreneurial-leader

[xv] https://davidepstein.com/

[xvi] https://www.azquotes.com/quote/594040 Hunter, a U.S. lyricist, singer-songwriter, translator, and poet, best known for his work with the Grateful Dead, died in 2019.

[xvii] https://greenlights.com/#book (Crown / Crownpublishing.com, New York, N.Y. 2020 (Penguin Random House LLC), p. 14. Of “persist, pivot, or concede,” McConaughey says, ‘It’s up to us, our choice every time.”

[xviii] https://www.businessballs.com/improving-workplace-performance/nudge-theory/

[xix] https://www.mr-sustainability.com/why-how-what-who/clear-non-negotiables

[xx] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_s-Qk07KxA

[xxi]David Epstein states, “Everyone is digging deeper into their own trench and rarely standing up to look in the next trench over, even though the solution to their problem happens to reside there. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World