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  • Reverend James Squire

What the Republican Presidential Debaters Can Learn From Sadie




I think that Sadie the Wonder Dog has a lot to teach all of us including those Republican Presidential Candidates who debated recently. You will recall that a question was asked if they would support Trump if he was elected President. All of them didn’t know what to say as indicative of their looking around to see what others would do. They were caught in what is known as a classic double bind. Their non-verbal communication said that they weren’t sure for on the one hand they have mildly said negative statements about Trump but wanted to stay in good graces with his base. Asa Hutchinson kept his hands to his side indicating that he was the least conflicted about the question. Chris Christie had his hand almost up and then raised it up because he has been the most forceful candidate speaking against Trump. Later, he indicated that his hesitation was due to the fact that he wanted to explain why he wouldn’t support Trump so he was caught in a double bind as well.


When you are caught in a double bind situation, it can literally make you crazy. Gregory Bateson was one of the first to identify the peril of double bind situations which are communication dilemmas that come from a conflict between two or more messages. There are other ways of describing double bind situations by feeling that you are caught between a rock and a hard place or that you have cognitive dissonance, two messages that don’t seem to go together.


In fact, that is why the entire Republican Party has entered what seems like a crazy moment for them. They want to support Trump to capture his base but also see that if he runs, he would lose with a national voting audience.


What can we learn from Bateson’s work about the way to deal with ethics to address a double bind situation but more importantly how can examples of people such as John McCain cause us to live with more courage than we think we have. The lack of courage of Republican candidates’ convictions is seen by all across our nation.


Sadie can help them! Labrador Retrievers love two things, food and people! I have written a blog about this before. If I leave a sandwich at lunch to go to the door to let someone in, Sadie, the opportunist, will get the sandwich every time. But I have done some research with her when she is caught between welcoming a visitor with a toy in her mouth with great enthusiasm or would she go for the sandwich and not have the opportunity to greet the visitor. She is in a classic double bind as she wants both, but knows that she only has time for one or the other. Most of the time she will go to greet the visitor. Hence, her double bind tension gets resolved.


In ethics we can address double bind situations by choosing one of the two things that are in conflict and say that “what I am doing is wrong but necessary” or that our decision is the “lesser of two evils.” This is called the Via Media or Middle Way.


But there is also something more that can help us find courage when we have to make that decision between two things that put us in a double bind. When I have to make a difficult decision between two things that are double binds where I can only choose one and courage is needed to choose that one thing, I will think of people who have demonstrated how to do that.

One of my examples is John McCain. He was captured by the Vietnamese and placed in a prisoner of war camp with disease and broken bones. He was tortured! The enemy said that since his dad was a high-ranking officer that they would release him but keep the troops that he was leading as prisoners. If anyone wanted a new venue of freedom, it would have been McCain. He said, “No!” His model helped all of his troops to cope with five years of imprisonment.


Second, a Minnesota woman, said that Obama was an Arab when he was McCain’s opponent in the race for President. McCain took the mike from her and urged his supporters to stop hurling abuse at his presidential rallies, saying he admired and respected his Democratic rival.


Now, here is the issue for you to ponder that point to the current lack of courage in the Republican Party. How would Trump and DeSanctis respond in that situation of imprisonment or the Minnesota woman?


I would suggest that we all find a person or several people who reflect the actions and courage of John McCain. When I am in a double bind, I think of him as well as former students and others, and I am empowered to be more courageous than I think I can be.


Is this important for all of us? John Kennedy wrote a book that I have read several times. He could have written about anything, but his book, Profiles in Courage, is the story of many people who are examples that we can follow. It should be required reading for Maga Republicans.



What the Republican Presidential Debaters Can Learn from Sadie Jim Squire September 2023


I think that Sadie the Wonder Dog has a lot to teach all of us including those Republican Presidential Candidates who debated recently. You will recall that a question was asked if they would support Trump if he was elected President. All of them didn’t know what to say as indicative of their looking around to see what others would do. They were caught in what is known as a classic double bind. Their non-verbal communication said that they weren’t sure for on the one hand they have mildly said negative statements about Trump but wanted to stay in good graces with his base. Asa Hutchinson kept his hands to his side indicating that he was the least conflicted about the question. Chris Christie had his hand almost up and then raised it up because he has been the most forceful candidate speaking against Trump. Later, he indicated that his hesitation was due to the fact that he wanted to explain why he wouldn’t support Trump so he was caught in a double bind as well.


When you are caught in a double bind situation, it can literally make you crazy. Gregory Bateson was one of the first to identify the peril of double bind situations which are communication dilemmas that come from a conflict between two or more messages. There are other ways of describing double bind situations by feeling that you are caught between a rock and a hard place or that you have cognitive dissonance, two messages that don’t seem to go together.


In fact, that is why the entire Republican Party has entered what seems like a crazy moment for them. They want to support Trump to capture his base but also see that if he runs, he would lose with a national voting audience.


What can we learn from Bateson’s work about the way to deal with ethics to address a double bind situation but more importantly how can examples of people such as John McCain cause us to live with more courage than we think we have. The lack of courage of Republican candidates’ convictions is seen by all across our nation.


Sadie can help them! Labrador Retrievers love two things, food and people! I have written a blog about this before. If I leave a sandwich at lunch to go to the door to let someone in, Sadie, the opportunist, will get the sandwich every time. But I have done some research with her when she is caught between welcoming a visitor with a toy in her mouth with great enthusiasm or would she go for the sandwich and not have the opportunity to greet the visitor. She is in a classic double bind as she wants both, but knows that she only has time for one or the other. Most of the time she will go to greet the visitor. Hence, her double bind tension gets resolved.


In ethics we can address double bind situations by choosing one of the two things that are in conflict and say that “what I am doing is wrong but necessary” or that our decision is the “lesser of two evils.” This is called the Via Media or Middle Way.


But there is also something more that can help us find courage when we have to make that decision between two things that put us in a double bind. When I have to make a difficult decision between two things that are double binds where I can only choose one and courage is needed to choose that one thing, I will think of people who have demonstrated how to do that.

One of my examples is John McCain. He was captured by the Vietnamese and placed in a prisoner of war camp with disease and broken bones. He was tortured! The enemy said that since his dad was a high-ranking officer that they would release him but keep the troops that he was leading as prisoners. If anyone wanted a new venue of freedom, it would have been McCain. He said, “No!” His model helped all of his troops to cope with five years of imprisonment.


Second, a Minnesota woman, said that Obama was an Arab when he was McCain’s opponent in the race for President. McCain took the mike from her and urged his supporters to stop hurling abuse at his presidential rallies, saying he admired and respected his Democratic rival.


Now, here is the issue for you to ponder that point to the current lack of courage in the Republican Party. How would Trump and DeSanctis respond in that situation of imprisonment or the Minnesota woman?


I would suggest that we all find a person or several people who reflect the actions and courage of John McCain. When I am in a double bind, I think of him as well as former students and others, and I am empowered to be more courageous than I think I can be.


Is this important for all of us? John Kennedy wrote a book that I have read several times. He could have written about anything, but his book, Profiles in Courage, is the story of many people who are examples that we can follow. It should be required reading for Maga Republicans.

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