Enlightened Conflict

advertising and politics and what you have to say matters

February 6th, 2017

insights people

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“You aren’t advertising to a standing army; you are advertising to a moving parade.”

 

David Ogilvy

 

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“One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.”

 

Victor Hugo

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“The pursuit of excellence is less profitable than the pursuit of bigness, but it can be more satisfying.”

 

 

David Ogilvy

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So.

 

attitude foreign life adventure

 

Today there will be an onslaught of reviews, assessments and critiques of all the ads seen during the Super Bowl. You will not find one here today … or tomorrow … or any day for that matter.

 

Instead I want to take a moment and comment on business responsibility and their choices with regard to what they say, or do not say, in advertising.

 

I do so because in today’s heightened sense of politicism and divisive rhetoric a shitload of people are making noise about “advertising should honor the event and not use it to make a political statement.”

 

I am most likely in the minority within the marketing community on this issue but … that is nuts to me.

 

Uhm.

If not then … then when?

 

Uhm.

If not me … then who?

 

Yeah.

 

I fully understand  there are consequences & repercussions for your actions.

 

 

But let me take a couple minute to talk about the ‘actions’ part. Far too often this discussion devolves into a simplistic binary choice – an ‘either/or’ choice.

 

You stand for this therefore you hate that. business ethics direction good bad choice

 

 

In other words you cannot be pro-choice and yet respectful or understanding of pro-life … you cannot desire stronger immigration rules and still be accepting of immigrants … you cannot believe in your religion and still accept that how others worship is good & worthy.

 

Let’s face it.

 

Life, in most cases , is not some simplistic binary choice. You can, and should, believe in something and yet still can, and should, be accepting and respectful of others views. To be clear … to be successful in this endeavor we would not only need to embrace respect but also assume that most people, let’s say maybe 99% of people, do the best they can and make the best decisions they can <no matter how flawed those decisions may look in our eyes>.

 

Which leads me back to business and advertising.

 

I believe advertising, in general, should always seek to highlight the opportunity for us to see the better, or best, version of who and what we are.

 

And that is where I believe business marketing and advertising should not fear speaking out. And … I would point out … what I am suggesting is not political nor is it divisive but rather it is contributing to a better society.

 

It is not stating what you believe is wrong … but rather that standing up and speaking out for what you believe is right. Companies make statements all the time. Maybe they do more vocally internally but part of any good organization is a sense of what they believe is right, versus wrong, and how they may define integrity & values.

 

Frankly. We need more companies standing up and vocalizing this publicly.

This is not about saying “you are wrong for believing this” or “we do not agree with you” but rather more about normalizing what is right.

 

I talk with a shitload of business people … not about advertising or marketing per se … but rather about simply being successful in the marketplace.

 

we and you want the whole pie 2

 

I focus on distinction and not differentiation.

 

 

I focus on worrying about “me” and what I want to say rather than finding some elusive, and most likely nonexistent, ‘white space’ in some industry to shape what I ‘should say.’

 

 

I focus on saying the right things and doing it the right way and suggesting that if you tell people the right way to think about things that eventually people will see you as ‘right’ rather than ‘wrong.’

we and you want the whole pie 1

 

Look.

This is not about free speech or any political motivation, per se, but it is about how business, and work life, is an important part of the societal fabric of who and what we are and how and what we think.

 

This also means a business has to slide around the infamous ‘political correctness’ obstacle.

In my eyes … if you want to discuss how political correctness has gone awry … it would be in the business world. Political correctness scared businesses from assuming a role they had gladly played in the past.

It wasn’t too long ago that business played a significant role in shaping society. As Peter Drucker pointed out, back in the early 1990’s, something he discussed called “no more salvation by society” … a time in which businesses understood that work made up a significant portion of people’s lives and therefore they had some responsibility to investing in the fabric of society. As time and views have shifted toward ‘making a dollar’ and profits … the work place became less and less an extension of society but rather simply ‘a place to work and gain a paycheck’.

 

What an empty thought that is.

 

So empty that when meetings occurred to discuss ‘risk in their advertising’, and ‘what should we say’, was discussed … ‘social responsibility’ sat in the corner and had nothing to defend it … and businesses became afraid to make a stand on what they believed was good for society <and simply focused on ‘brand differentiation’ and ‘branding’ … in other words … I am gonna just worry about me and let you worry about you>.

 

Well.

 

This is not only sad … but wrong.

 

Our work lives, like it or not, represent a significant portion of our lives … not just in terms of sheer hours but also in terms of thinking we are exposed to, accepted behavior and general attitudes on what is right & what is wrong.fix society

 

For a business to avoid that ‘fabric of society’ responsibility is shameful.

 

And … yeah … advertising is the most visible expression should they actually accept the responsibility.

 

Ok.

 

Yeah.

 

That said. I go back to the beginning … yeah … there are absolutely consequences for your actions. But that is what business positioning is really all about. Distinctness and forcing people to think … think about you as a company, think about what you are offering … and thinking about how they feel about you, your message … and themselves.

That is what business positioning and marketing and advertising, at its core, is all about. We far too often dumb it down into some ‘selling shit’ sound bite but … well … that is dumb.

 

Yes.

I know.

 

People will debate with me and, to be fair, this whole discussion wanders along the razor thin line of inclusionary versus exclusionary. If your message is effective, concise and clear, it will absolutely be inclusionary for those who see themselves in what you have to say and offer … and potentially exclusionary to others at exactly the same time.

 

However, when done well, a business’s advertising captures the brand’s distinctness <which is a campfire to those who want to be included> and offers a better version of people <so that people do not dislike you … they imply think ‘they are not for me’>.

 

better version think road path society

 

But to do what I am suggesting a business has to set political correctness off to the side, not think about politics at all … and simply think about … well … people. The people who they desire to try their products and services and how they would like to showcase those people as the best version of themselves. Maybe show them the destination mentally or maybe even share the path. It doesn’t matter … it is intended to connect with some better version that resides in everyone of us.

 

And then after thinking about all that … they have to place the burden of responsibility upon their shoulders, open the door and stride out into the world to share it with people.

 

Yes.

In business we have a responsibility.

 

Yes.

Even in the advertising and marketing business there is an almost overwhelming responsibility <which far too many people are not willing to accept this burden> beyond simply selling stuff.

 

——

 

“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society.

We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.”

 

==

Bill Bernbach

 small big matters tweak

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“We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it.

We are so busy listening to statistics we forget we can create them.”

 

==

Bill Bernbach

 

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It is a much easier burden to simply focus on profit and dollars — it is a straightforward black & white responsibility.

Well.

I would suggest to any business person reading this that … well … responsibility is responsibility. All responsibility is only as overwhelming or ‘whelming’ a you make it.

 

And if you do not accept your responsibility to tell the truth as excitingly and convincingly as you possibly can … lies will win … and society will end up being shaped that way.

 

If you choose to vulgarize the society or brutalize it … or even ignore it <all under the guise of ‘understanding what the consumer wants’> … society will lose.

 

To be clear.

 

I do not despair when I look at business in today’s world … or even marketing & advertising behavior. And, I will admit, I was heartened by some of the ads I saw aired on the Super Bowl.

 

But I do get aggravated.

 

Ok.

No.

 

I get angry.

 

I get angry that we are not accepting the responsibility.

 

I get angry that we are not strong enough to accept the burden.

 

I get angry that many do not even presume the responsibility is within their purview.

 

Business, whether you like it or not, shapes society.

 

matters do hugh 1What we do matters.

 

Selling stuff may matter to our bottom line and the existence of our business but we cannot ignore that a thriving business actually contributes to a greater good — the existence of a healthy society.

 

 

I could argue that while selling stuff is important that what really matters is the shaping of attitudes <which ultimately shapes behavior>.

 

Far too often, by simply focusing on ‘selling stuff’, the byproduct of our ignoring the larger responsibility is that we end up brutalizing society in some form or fashion.

 

Am I suggesting that selling stuff or being profitable isn’t important? Of course not.

 

All I am suggesting is that how you sell stuff and be profitable matters.

 

And that you have a responsibility in how you do what you do.

 

Because how you do things impacts society.

 

It shapes society. It can vulgarize or brutalize … or invigorate and instill good.

 

How you do things has a power way beyond simply you or what you do in that moment.

 

How you do things is a pebble dropping into a pond.

 

 

Accepting the responsibility assumes you are neither impotent nor harmless.

 

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“Advertising is far from impotent or harmless; it is not a mere mirror image. Its power is real, and on the brink of a great increase. Not the power to brainwash overnight, but the power to create subtle and real change.

The power to prevail.”

 

==

Eric Clark, The Want Makers: Inside the World of Advertising, 1988

 

——

 

Your responsibility in business is sometimes subtle … but always real.

 

I worry that business people everywhere, but in particular advertising & marketing, have become so focused on getting shit done and ‘attaining the bottom line’ that they have forgotten the responsibility.

 

I worry that business people worry so much about politics and ‘political correctness’ they have forgotten that when good people remain silent … the only one who wins is bad.

 

I ask everyone visiting today to think about what the thinking I offered today.

 

This isn’t about causes.

 

This isn’t about social responsibility <or the welfare of people>.

 

This is about understanding that what you do impacts people.

 

This is about whether you, as business people, accept the burden of responsibility to help shape a society which is a reflection of the best versions of who and what we are.

 

Well.

lift society vulgarize or shape

That is my “Super Bowl advertising review” thought piece.

 

In my eyes … if I am going to spend $5 million on some advertisement and place my ad on some show where a gazillion people will see it … I am going to use my moment in the spotlight to aim for the  best version of myself that I can. And aim to help people see the best version that they can be.

 

Will that piss some people off? Sure.

Does that make me wrong to try and meet that objective? No.

 

Silence is not an option. When you have the podium and he opportunity to speak … you accept the burden of responsibility and try and ‘lift society to a higher level.’

innocent until proven guilty

October 30th, 2016

 

i-was-innocent

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“Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made, or by dark images you hold about yourself.

 

They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused. “

 

=

Alan Cohen

 

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Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary

 

One of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system, holding that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

In other words, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the crime charged.

 

————————-

 

I used the opening quote in this post in my ‘recognizing the real person’ post in which I suggested judging people is more difficult than many of us make it out to young innocence decisions context inspiresbe <“I could tell whether that person was guilty or not”, immediately, being one of the most misguided, and potentially damning, things we do>.

 

Thinking someone is guilty of something is an insidious little thought.

 

Like John Green said …

 

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 “Once you think a thought, it is extremely difficult to unthink it.”

 

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John Green

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That is the reason why innocent until proven guilty is difficult to grasp, difficult to do and difficult to practice.

 

And it is even more so in today’s world.

 

While our court system continues to practice ‘innocent until proven guilty’ … this practice continuously crashes into a society, and certainly a social world online, that immediately rushes to a “guilty until proven innocent” verdict world.

 

And if you do try and suggest that someone should wait until the facts come out … or that maybe, just maybe, someone is innocent … you are blasted for be being naïve or ignoring ‘common sense thinking.’

 

Well.

 

The whole scenario bothers me.

5.0.2

5.0.2

You are either a believer of innocent until proven guilty or you are not.

 

It is not contextual or situational or ‘right for one person and not right for another person.’

 

It is one of the basic beliefs of the American society.

And maybe we need a lesson in social studies or civic studies to remind ourselves of that.

 

 

I once wrote … we all have guilt for something. The something could be big … it could be very small. But that is the funny thing about guilt … its size doesn’t matter. Normal laws of space & weight do not apply to guilt. A sliver of guilt can bear the same weight as a mountain of guilt.

All that matters is how we choose to bear that weight.

 

 

innocent no_one_is_innocent-graffitiI sometimes think because we all know we are guilty of something that we struggle to find innocence in others in the public eye. And, yet, I should remind everyone, that while we may be guilty of something, we are more likely than not … innocent of more than we are guilty of.

And, maybe we should all self reflect a little, I tend to believe we would all like to be judged more often by the bulk of our innocence than on the sliver of guilts we may bear.

 

We should sit and think about that.

All of us.

 

There is no such thing as an innocent word.

 

They are all going to end up being guilty of something.

I say that because we should use words wisely with regard to people’s innocence.

 

Anyway.

 

I could get extremely philosophic with regard to why we people may err on the side of wanting to jump to ‘guilty’ rather than innocence but I will not.

 

I will not because America actually makes it much simpler.

 

Innocent until proven guilty is part of who we are as a country.

 

Just as a right to bear arms.

 

Just as a right to speech.

 

Just as a right to believe different thoughts.

 

Just as a right to your own religion and religious thoughts.

 

And, yes, even people in the public eye deserve the right to be innocent until proven guilty.

 

And that means people in roles of responsibility … well … have a responsibility to maintain that same belief and vocalize it.

 

This presidential election has not only been crazy but it has brought out craziness with regard to who and what we are as a country.

 

What someone is guilty of is not something to be speculated.innocent-until-proven-guilty

 

Why?

 

Because they are innocent until proven guilty.

 

The right to be presumed innocent is one of the mainstays of who and what we are as Americans. And, yet, the presumption of innocence is undergoing an uncomfortable change in ‘society law’ which is encouraged by an increasing amount <oddly> by extreme conservative websites & spokespeople <who are supposed to be the ultimate purveyors of the constitution and constitutional rights> as well as … uhm … natural human behavior <which embodies a natural instinct to ‘where there is smoke there is fire’ attitude>.

 

We cannot, and should not, ignore these dynamics. But the right to be presumed innocent is one of the main procedural safeguards in the framework of an American criminal system. And it should remain one of the main procedural, mental, safeguards in the societal framework.

 

It not only benefits the accused but it benefits society.

If we sacrifice that we sacrifice more than just the right we sacrifice a significant part of … well … a ‘better society’ and better citizenship.

 

As Ben Franklin noted … giving us liberty for the sake of security means we are not deserving of the freedoms.

 

Look.

 

Yes.

 

Presidential campaigns seem to bring out the worst in everyone.

 

One of the things that forces us to bring out our best is … is … well … innocent until proven guilty.

 

Yes.

 

The worst thrives in a public social online universe that feeds on ‘guilty until proven innocent” <which our forefathers inherently understood that ‘perceptions of guilt are almost unrecoverable in the public eye and thought to head that off at the pass>.

And that means ‘our best’ needs to have some backbone and resolve and resilience in the face of our worst.

 

Innocent until proven guilty.

 

This is a constitutional right.

 

And maybe some Republicans <and the RNC> need to be reminded of that. It is part of what makes America different and makes America fair & reasonable & … well … makes Hillary different from Trump.

 

I believe if you feel like you have done nothing wrong of course stand up and say so.

 

I believe if you have done something wrong of course stand up and say so.

 

But ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is not about what you have done right or wrong … it is what America stands for.

guilty-until-proven-innocent

Someone smarter than I needs to figure out how to remind everyone of that.

This is simply my small attempt to do so.

 

I have no idea whether Hillary Clinton has done anything criminal or is a criminal. What I do know is that we are all innocent until proven guilty.

And shouting from the mountaintop that someone is guilty, without specific proof, does not make it so.

 

If I were the Clinton campaign I would make the ‘high road’ pivot in the last week based on ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

I believe they have the opportunity because of this new FBI thing to pivot against the so-called law & order candidate and his “law” surrogates who seem to have forgotten that the whole foundation of law & order is innocent until proven guilty. The heinous “they look guilty” is at the root of profiling, stop & frisk, prejudice against Muslims, Jewish people, Catholics as well as ‘anyone who does not look like me’ … and the rights of everyone in America.

we-are-innocent-until-proven-guilty

Regardless.

 

This is bigger than any presidential election.

 

Innocent until proven guilty is institutional.

 

And to defray this part of our institution is to seed rot in our house. And, at this time and place, I see far too many responsible people irresponsibly planting seeds of this rot.

 

Anyone shouting guilty, without any real proof … and I mean REAL proof <not speculation or innuendoes or ‘common sense’> is rotten.

 

We need to eliminate the rot. We need to refind who and what we are as Americans. Americans who are innocent until proven guilty.

defining serial philanderer versus serial creep

October 14th, 2016

yes no hand statement 

 

Well.

 

Let me say this about Trump … because of this asshat I have had to have more conversations about guys, what we do and what we say, and don’t say, and why we do the things we do, or don’t do, then I have in years.

 

 

trump-not-all-men-are-like-thatOn October 9th I had to walk through what guys really don’t say in a locker room.

 

And what guys do say <and they don’t say any of the shit that Trump senior & junior imply we do>.

 

Today I felt the need to define the difference between a serial philanderer and a serial creep.

 

Now.

 

The Trump campaign is gonna do their damndest to blur the distinction the best they can.

 

Ignore the blurring.

 

I am gonna make it simple.

 

A father, husband, or any adult man knows the one guy you don’t trust around your wife, girlfriend/partner or … well … any woman. They are on constant low level “flirt status’ trolling for anyone who expresses even one iota of interest.

They are the ‘dogs’ who just want to sleep with any woman they can.

That guy is a serial philanderer.

 

 

A father, husband, or any adult man knows the one guy you don’t trust around your daughter.

That guy is a serial creep.

 

That was, and is, simple.

 

Now.

 

There is going to be a bunch of crap being thrown around to blur the discussion and to attempt to create some random equivalencies in order to attach Hillary to Bill <and inevitably> to Trump on this issue.

 

As Trump would say … “disaster” of a plan. ‘Poor judgement.’

 

A wife is a victim of a husband’s infidelity. Period.

 

A woman, all women, are victims of a creep. Period.

 

thinking inside head possibilities finiteBill. If we were to judge him thru a 2016 lens, versus whatever year lens we are trying to go back to, yes … he is guilty of .. well … I am not sure what he is guilty of.

He has faced allegations of which none have been proven in court <and the women , I believe, have had their day in court>. He had sex with a consenting adult <that is infidelity and not a crime>. So I guess in 2016 lens he would be viewed as a serial philanderer. But I also don’t remember him ever using the words Trump does nor do I ever remember him treating women in general as Trump does. Nor … which everyone seems to forget … do I remember Bill showing the overall pattern of disdain for people beyond women.

Regardless.

Adultery is adultery. On that issue both Trump and Bill were adulterers and philanderers.

Not a crime. Just a moral crime.

 

Trump. Here is Trump’s problem. He has been a bragging hyperbole driven lying asshole throughout this entire campaign. For the most part … everyone knows that he exaggerates everything. But. When you listen to the bus “grab & touch anyone I want” tape. And listen to what he says. And you combine it with everything else you have seen and heard … well … you sit back and go … whoa … that’s not exaggeration or sexist stupidity … I believe he actually does, and did, that.

 

Bill didn’t paw at women. He slept with them as an adulterer.

Trump not only was an adulterer but he took advantage of his position to touch, kiss and non consensually paw at women <while verbally demeaning them>.

That makes him a creep.

 

 

Hillary.

I don’t think she can say this <because she would be crucified> but I think she would say thru a 2016 culture lens she would have acted differently back in business context young old thinking smarterwhatever year that was. We view sexual assault <as well as many things culturally> differently now versus then <thankfully I may add>.

But that is a guess.

What I do know is that it is only hearsay that she did anything to the women. She stood by her husband as her husband lied to her. She stopped standing by her husband <speaking out against allegations against her husband> after he told her the truth. That’s kind of what wives do.

They are the last ones to know, the last ones to believe and the last ones left out there feeling & looking stupid. And that is why trying to tie her to her husband’s infidelity is a losing strategy. Women know that.

 

And to suggest she is an “enabler”? geez. That suggests she was the Madam for Bill’s whorehouse. On so many levels, mostly by simply viewing Hillary through a brainiac thought leader lens, that seems incredibly unlikely.

 

The biggest problem for Trump continues to be actually his biggest most effective strategy.

False equivalence.

 

As he did in the debate the other night he tried to diminish his sexist asshatedness by … well … comparing it to ISIS. Well, yes, he looks good in that equivalence.

 

Next.

 

What he does is to suggest that “well, he did it too” as an equivalence. That may work in 2nd grade but in the adult world individuals are responsible for their actions.

Period.

 

 

The last thing he, and his rabid surrogates, are masters at is ‘isolating an incident’ to create equivalence. He treats each asshat incident as a solitary event and finds an equivalence to diminish its importance <or heinousness>.

And you know what? If it were just one incident most of us would sit back and go “okay, you really aren’t an asshat … you just showed a moment of poor judgement.” But if you unbundle his isolation techniques and rebundle everything that he does, and has done, he shows an overall pattern of … well … being a heinous self-serving asshole bully who believes he deserves anything he wants … and if he doesn’t get it becomes a petulant rich kid focused on some revenge.

 

<the latter does not reflect anything I want in a president>

 

Bill was a good president who was an adulterer. He also seems like he was a public servant to, and of, the citizens of America <and not sexist>. Oh. And he married a headstrong independent smart woman.

 

Trump was an adulterer. A creep with regard to women overall. Sexist. And , in general, the worst type of soulless capitalist you can imagine.

 

Hillary will be a good president who was not an adulterer, did not divorce her husband despite his flaws, has shown no signs of being anything but an ambitious public servant woman … and married an incredibly smart articulate flawed man.

 

All flawed.

 

But not all flaws are equal.

 

Anyway.

 

As Michelle Obama just said in a fabulous speech yesterday … “Enough is enough.”

 

================

 

“We live in the real world, with real problems that need real solutions.

We need someone with pragmatic approaches that include patience and compassion. That is Hillary Clinton.”

 

Idaho Statesman, the state’s most widely circulated newspaper, criticized Trump as insufficiently reliable on conservative issues, or unreliable, period.

===========

 

A presidential candidate can’t say anything, and I truly mean ‘anything’, if its creepy <because no adult wants their son or daughter to be confused in thinking serial-obama-michelle-not-politics-as-usual-1of it as “wow, the guy who is running our country can say it … and think it … so why the fuck can’t I ??!!??”>.

That’s why a presidential debate is … uhm … well … there is no age limit to view it because they are supposed to represent what is the best of us <not the worst>. That’s why words matter.

 

This horrible Donald Trump event is much bigger than a political event. This is a cultural “education level event.”

Someone on twitter called this election ‘the Sweet Meteor of Death’ but I disagree.

 

Our first black president changed America. Anyone would be silly to not think that.

Our first female president will also change America. Anyone would be silly to not think that.

 

And the change occurs in some horrible public ways.

 

But not all change is equal.

 

Obama ran against decent human beings who competed based on ideas and hopes … not racism.

Clinton, a woman, is faced with a non-decent individual who is competing not on ideas … and certainly not positivism or hope … but instead is plucking every misogynist and xenophobic and sexist string anyone anywhere could play.

 

I read somewhere … we are witnessing what Obama’s 2008 campaign would have been like if Obama had been running against a George Wallace.

 

In this case we are witnessing the Mad Men masculinity campaign against the woman of the future.

 

This will define who and what we are as people.

 

I listened to Michelle Obama in New Hampshire on 10/13 <and I am truly speak the truthhonored Michelle Obama is our First Lady>.

 

“Trump’s comments about women have shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”

“This was a powerful individual speaking openly about sexually predatory behavior.”

 

“This is certainly beyond the basic standards of human decency.”

 

    This is not normal, this is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable, and it doesn’t matter what party you belong to… No woman deserves to be treated this way – none of us deserves this kind of abuse.

 

“If Trump is elected we’re telling our sons it’s ok to humiliate women.” 

 

Me.

 

I do not like how Trump conducts his businesses competitively or organizationally … and I do not like how he conducts himself personally.

I do not believe this is who we are as decent people nor do I believe he represents who we are as a country.

And … paraphrasing our FLOTUS … I will not let anyone tell us differently.

Enlightened Conflict