VP Biden Was Not the First/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on October 15, 2020

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One of the mainstays of the Trump campaign speech (both for Trump Sr. and Trump Jr.) is making reference to Vice President Biden’s “staying in the basement”. This strategy of “lying low” is actually not a new one at all. According to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (“Leadership in Turbulent Times”) President Lincoln stayed in his city of Springfield, Illinois during the entire 1860 Presidential campaign in an exercise of self-restraint. In point of fact, Lincoln’s policy towards slavery was one of moderation and restraint. Since re-entering politics in 1854, Mr. Lincoln advocated no extension of slavery into the territories of the US, and no interference with it where it already existed. (Of course, the Civil War changed that calculus.) This avoidance of extremes was the result of what a newspaper (Chicago Daily Press and Tribune) described as “the natural consequence of an equable nature and a mental constitution that is never off its balance.”

How can a mediator help the parties resolve their disputes in a peaceful manner? While the strategies may depend on the circumstances, certainly the parties need to be led to a point where they can find their “equable nature” and a mental constitution that is “balanced”. The parties need to find self-restraint. They need to avoid the extreme thought-process of “all or nothing”. Balance, compromise, self-restraint, getting to Win-Win, are all desired goals for those seeking to resolve disputes. The Oxford Dictionary defines “equable” as “calm and even-tempered”. I do not know how many calm and even-tempered people get into disputes. I would wager however that their number are much smaller than those who do not practice such behaviors. Mediate don’t litigate.