Monday, May 29, 2017

May 29, 2017--Guest Blogger Sharon: Tone At the Top

Guest Blogger Sharon returns with thoughts about the ethical tone Donald Trump is setting for his followers and, if he were to have his way, America.

I will return tomorrow, Tuesday, with ruminations about Intelligent Design.

                                                     Tone At the Top

I first heard the phrase "Tone at the Top" about fifteen or twenty years ago. I didn't realize at the time it was a term which originated in accounting/audit firms. Used to describe an organization's general ethical climate, as established by its board of directors, audit committee, and senior management. Tone at the top refers to the ethical atmosphere that is created in the workplace by the organization's leadership. Whatever tone management sets will have a trickle-down effect on employees of the company. 
Many of the recent themes of this blog had me thinking about tone at the top again. This time not in a corporate context, but in the context of a leader and his advisers who conducted the vilest campaign in modern American history. He and his board have made it OK for Americans who are so inclined, to hate again, to ignore facts, and to admire someone whose behavior they would reject in another context. 
This week hearing Montana voters say they supported a candidate who assaulted a reporter because his behavior made it sound like the candidate was their kind of guy, made me wonder if people would feel as comfortable voicing this if just about anyone else was elected President. 
This is not to say that this type of behavior represents everyone who voted for Trump. Nor am I comfortable with everyone who did not vote for Trump or other Republicans in the primaries lumped together as Progressives, or Liberals. 
Having spent most of my adult life in a state that is red/purple, many friends, colleagues and neighbors had different viewpoints that didn't get in the way for over 40 years of cordial or even family-like relationships. Nor were most people, including myself, down the line categorizable. I know government employees who might usually vote for Dems who preferred some of their Republican appointee bosses to those they worked for under Democrat administrations.
But this is different. Trump has deliberately tapped into some really disturbing and powerful undercurrents in American life. Some of these people we've known for years and who are not unemployed coal miners or displaced manufacturing workers living in drug plagued towns have, with Trump as a model, felt free to say some pretty ugly stuff. 
One example. It's been about three years since I wrote about my dad's World War II service. At the time I read accounts of men who were captured during the Battle of the Bulge, who were first writing about their traumatic experiences 70 years later. To then hear a friend say Trump was right, John McCain wasn't a hero because he was captured left me dumbfounded. And that was only the beginning. I won't even repeat some of the other things that have been said.
If I have given up trying to reason with and understand people I already know who perhaps have spent too many years being brainwashed by Fox News, trolls and "news" outlets even further right, I have even less interest engaging strangers who want people to be free not to have health care.  I hold in special contempt those who encourage conspiracy theories that spur the lunatic fringe to shoot up pizza parlors, etc. (Fill in your favorite conspiracy or slur here).
For those who are not "deplorable" and just wanted to be heard, to shake things up or thought a businessman might be able to solve some problems, I wonder if they really still see this administration as setting the right tone to produce the results for which they voted.
Or perhaps this other New York businessman's profile which appeared in the Times last week is more apt. He sold people phony products and when customers complained, he terrorized them. He's headed to jail . . . 

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