Saxman: The Wild Thing – Unsolicited Post Election Advice From Around the Country

By Chris Saxman

Last night, I drove Hammer (Michele a.k.a. the Mrs.) and our oldest daughter War Hammer (Mary Kathryn a.k.a. Mrs. Kyle Taylor USMC) to Ashland for a dinner with John the Youngest, now a freshman at Randolph Macon.

We had dinner at a local sports themed restaurant. The company was excellent and the food was good – if you like late 1980s bar food. While the service and atmosphere were pretty good, the food left us looking for alternative sites on our next visit. I felt the desire to say something to the staff or owner of the restaurant, but was stopped when I realized they hadn’t asked.

Hey – if they don’t want to know, that’s their business and we’ll take ours somewhere else next time.

While I have been guilty of the need to share my unsolicited expert advice opinion over the years, I have given way to just trying to stimulate thought knowing that’s a better seed to leave behind. (Yes, that’s sort of an apology to you if I have ever done that or come across that way. It’s not my intent, but … that human thing….)

Anyway, here is a very interesting column over at Medium by Felicia Sullivan on “People Who Give Unsolicited Advice.”

I went to the experts. In Psychology Today, Dr. Art Markman summarizes a group of four studies analyzing the motivations of rampant advice-givers. Researchers discovered:

“…giving advice to others can increase the feeling that you have power. In particular, the researchers suggest that when you advise someone else, it gives you the sense that someone may follow your advice. That belief that you are influencing someone else’s behavior then leads you to feel more powerful.”

I offer that perspective following the quadrennial ritual of over analyzing the recent presidential elections. Some of it is quite good, but the two parties usually don’t listen. Unlike the aforementioned restaurant, they really are the only game in town thanks to ballot access laws.

But, that could change.

Another perspective that goes unheeded every four years is, “Listen to your critics.”

Good column on that here.

The constant theme throughout the various offerings is that the Republican Party is dead and Donald Trump killed it. Usually buried past the halfway mark of the column is a nod to Trump that he had a point on this or that policy but it doesn’t matter because he killed the brand. Especially on January 6th.

I have yet to read one that says, “I just can’t figure out why the GOP picked up 11 seats in the House of Representatives, one governor, and even after the Charlie Foxtrot down in Georgia still managed a tie in the U.S. Senate.” (Of course, I have a lot of conversations with candidates, campaigns, spokespeople, etc, and rarer still is the question, “What do you think?”)

Then there are those trying to lift Joe Biden to A Mandate of the Masses Moment away from the real mandate for the new president to be Not Donald Trump.

To repeat, Biden’s mandate is to be Not Donald Trump. That column has yet to be found.

Among the many recent unsolicited advice columns these stand out:

  1. Senator Ben Sasse in The Atlantic: QAnon is Destroying the GOP From Within. Since Sasse just started a new six year term, his goes to the top.
  2. Peggy Noonan: Rob Portman’s Exit Interview. He’s leaving the U.S. Senate to make progress on issues he cares about.
  3. Garry Kasparov’s The GOP Hit Rock Bottom. Can Conservatives Recover?
  4. Gerald Seib in the WSJ: Where Trump Came From – And Where Trumpism is Going
  5. Salena Zito: Centrist Democrat concerned about his party
  6. Kevin Vallier: Why Are Americans So Distrustful of Each Other?
  7. Eric Cantor: Many of my fellow politicians won’t tell voters the truth. The result was January 6th.
  8. Matthew Dallek: Forcing out the Fringe. Can Republicans exile their most toxic supporters?
  9. Brody Mullins/Chad Day reporting, After Capitol Riot, GOP Faces Reckoning With Corporate America The Republican Party has already seen its share of corporate PAC donations shrink compared with eight years ago
  10. Steven B. Smith: The Two Enemies of Patriotism Cosmopolitans and nationalists both misunderstand what love of country really means in America.
  11. Matt Taibbi dreaming hard here: We Need a New Media System If you sell culture war all day, don’t be surprised by the real-world consequences

Last data point on this snowbound Sunday I wish to share as we finish up this fun filled first month comes from the annual Edelman Trust Barometer 2021.

Basically, it’s this – people trust business leaders and want them to engage on solving our problems.

We have to encourage them to do so and cannot punish them for trying to help. It’s a delicate balance that needs to be struck.

We need to ask them for their advice.

Chris Saxman represented the 20th District in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002-10. A businessman and active member of the community, he is Executive Director of Virginia FREE, a non-partisan, non-profit that informs the business community in order to advance free enterprise and responsible, pro-business government. Join Virginia FREE by clicking here. Chris and his wife Michele live in Richmond.

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