I was promoted almost five years ago. I was leaving the classroom full-time to run an academic service department that serves all of campus. This meant that I was going to lead a new department that was reorganized from two previous departments. I took the promotion with verve and through myself into my new job. I was thankful that I was still in the classroom, but not as much as before.
One of my peer mentors supported me through this transition and I still remember a meeting with him. We were chatting about the process and this would have been several months into the job. He looked at me and offered that I needed to listen more. I can’t remember his words verbatim, but they were something like this. “You need to listen. You need to learn.” We chatted and the overall tenor was that I was not a professor in the room, but part of this team working toward the same goal. I needed to act like I wasn’t in a classroom environment. We chatted some about the meeting’s content and I left his office.
I mulled his comments and my mantra became: Listen. Learn. Lead. I was set on leadership to the point that I was not thinking about listening. I was learning lots, but thanks to his feedback, I was listening more. Now this doesn’t meant that professors don’t listen. Don’t Learn. Don’t Lead. I needed my mindset to include more listening. I’m a hard extrovert and I’m known for my energy. But, I wasn’t always a good listener. I spent the next year thinking of this mantra and doing my best to listen actively.
When I got my second tattoo more than a year ago, I had Listen Learn Lead placed on my inner left arm. My right wrist has Mentor. And, yes, I did use Times New Roman. My former students will smile at the font name, as it is my preferred font. I used the Maple filter for the triple L. The Mentor is fresh from the studio and that is why it’s raw looking.
I’ve been at the annual American Political Science Association #APSA2017 meeting this week and I’ve been thinking about my two decades as a political scientist. Part of it is the fact that I have attended an array of focus groups and started off with the Women of Color in Political Science Conference #wcps17 in San Francisco, California.
#APSA2017 has been fraught with so much awesomeness and introspection. The focus groups have caused me to reflect on my time in Political Science. I’ve had some strong mentors and some great experiences; however, I’ve also had some interesting or terrible experiences. And, from the focus groups, I know that these situations and anecdotes are more systemic in higher education and perhaps not unique to Political Science. I want to blog more about this and this brief post is only part one.
I'm finding that reading, watching, and listening to the news is at times exhausting. Exhausting in a way that is personally taxing and I am not used to this. I can usually consume the news and compartmentalize well. This is not the case. I find that I am playing with the kitten and cat more so and watching videos with lots of cuteness. Right now, I have gone to re-watching television shows for a few minutes after I consume news. The news feels raw. It hurts. I've included some cuteness here, Arwen and Buffy.
I read Timothy Snyder's latest book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017) last week. It's more of a novella with the 20 concise sections, but it is a timely political book. My copy is dog-eared and I wish that I was teaching first year Political Science this year, but alas, I am not. His book is timely given the current political culture in the United States, but the book is useful for most to read and reflect upon today or tomorrow.
There are many takeaways and provocative points in the book. I was really caught up on the section about language. I kept on going back to my lectures on Fascism and the way that language is used under totalitarian regimes in order to scare the citizenry into blindly following the leading party or regime. The book provides a timely warning. One can likely read this book in a sitting, but I chose to savor it over the weekend and think of current examples related to each section. Unfortunately, the book has so many examples pulled from the headlines that it's as if Snyder is the political Dick Wolf.
This book is a must read.
This next week we will see the Grand Old Party, Republican Party begin the Convention season in Cleveland, Ohio. The Republican National Convention (RNC) has descended on Cleveland, and it will be a rocking, raucous performance of patriotism and most important a celebration of the party’s political platform and presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. This last year’s presidential election and primary and caucus season was like no other. Sure, there was the usual suspects and at one time almost two dozen candidates; however, when Trump threw his name into the ring many wondered if this was real and others nodded in support of his campaign. We witnessed the political dynasties rise and fall. The so-called Republican establishment did not perform well. Recall, Jeb Bush at an event asking the attendees, “Please clap.” This was not a shining moment for the Bush dynasty.
Tea Party darlings did not make as much progress as some suspected. If anything, this election was about forecasting and humility. I know that I have said repeatedly that I need a hat made into chocolate so that I could eat it. I suspected that Bush, Rubio or Kasich would make it further, and they did not. It’s clear that this was the anti-political establishment election. And, couple this with the #summerofviolence, #blacklivesmatter, and countless other hashtags on social media channels. It is clear that there is lots of political and social unrest in the United States.
What will we see at the RNC? We will see lots of red, white, and blue. Multiple references and endorsements to the party’s platform, references to the sanctity of the nuclear family, endorsement of Trump, references to the Judeo-Christian God, and the repeated taking down of the Democrats and their presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton. The speakers will go out of their way to explain how they are different than the other party.
The RNC is a moment of promises, wishful thinking, and a look back at the way things used to be and how we can return to this time with a Republican president in the White House. Make no mistake, both conventions will be political performances rife with platitudes, and condemnations of the other party. Make sure that you look at the websites for each conventions, as it’s interesting to see how the conventions are laid out and the array of services for the attendees. Grab a bag of popcorn, a notepad and pencil or your smart phone. There will be lots of sound bites and media ready quotes from the array of speakers.