A Mediation “Takeaway” From the Trump Victory/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on December 12, 2016


Professor Clifford Orwin, a faculty member of the University of Toronto, recently analyzed the US election at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/still-stunned-at-trumps-win-its-all-in-the-numbers/article33289872/. In his conclusion, the author stated that the easy part for Mr. Trump was to run on an agenda of “divide and conquer”. Now comes the crucial challenge; i.e. can President-elect Trump bring the American people back together. There is little doubt that the former course is an easier one than is the latter mandate.

In a commercial dispute, marital dispute, etc. the easier path is that of articulating why one is disappointed, unhappy, or even bitter. Words can flow very easily and very passionately in such situation. What requires a good deal of skill, however, is the challenge of making the end-game both civil and dignified. The long-time Texan politician Sam Rayburn summed this up in the following way:  “Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.”

Mediation is forward-looking. The dissolution stage is not nearly as complicated as is the stage of looking towards a more peaceful future. What will happen the day after the divorce or the severed business relationship? Business partners who go off in different directions may still need one another for future cooperative work. Parents who are divorced will still need to co-parent collaboratively. Win-Win is always a proper long-term goal of such events. Litigation will not rebuild the barn nor will it provide a dignified future. Win-Win can be attainable with the right effort. How can this be attained? With dignity and civility. Mediate don’t litigate.