Before Reagan, Only Nixon Said "God Bless America"
In an op-ed at the Seattle Times, communication scholars Dave Domke and Kevin Coe note the absurd God & Country tests that have been applied to Barack Obama, ranging from the "Give Praise to God" test to the "Flag Lapel Pin" test and most recently the "God Bless America" test.
As it turns out, the tradition of saying "God Bless America" by political leaders is a manufactured illusion that has been turned into a patriotic sales pitch, only dating to Ronald Reagan and applied strategically in the post-9/11 Bush presidency.
Here's what Domke and Coe report:
Consider this reality: The omnipresence of "God bless America" as a political slogan is an entirely recent phenomenon. We know because we've run the numbers. Analysis of more than 15,000 public communications by political leaders from Franklin Roosevelt's election in 1932 -- the beginning of the modern presidency -- through six years of George W. Bush's administration revealed that prior to Ronald Reagan taking office in 1981, the phrase had passed a modern president's lips only once in a major address: Richard Nixon used it to conclude an April 30, 1973, speech about Watergate.
But Reagan brought "God bless America" into the mainstream by regularly using it to conclude his speeches. Since then, presidents and other politicians have used it nearly to death. Like Nike's "Just Do It" or any other ubiquitous catchphrase, the words eventually lose their meaning. "God bless America" has become the Pennsylvania Avenue equivalent to consumerized Madison Avenue staples.
That's the problem with the "God bless America" test: Like most of the other tests that constitute modern political discourse, it doesn't mean anything.
If a willingness to profess one's faith and patriotism and to conclude speeches with "God bless America" were accurate indicators of presidential prowess, Bush family members would have long ago secured their places among the nation's greatest leaders. Both George H.W. and George W. used it to conclude more than 80 percent of their major addresses, with the son often offering this important twist: "May God continue to bless America."
Asking candidates to demonstrate their God and country bona fides by parroting a political catchphrase is insulting and unnecessary. Journalists' and pundits' time would be far better spent interrogating the actual beliefs of those candidates so willing to ask God to bless America. After all, had the phrase not been rendered all but meaningless through overuse, "God bless America" would have to be taken as a serious theological proposition.
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Blackstone's Byron Wien, Vice Chairman of Private Wealth Solutions Group, gave a speech laying out the wisdom he learned during his 80 years. Here are 15 of Wien's best life lessons, which teach us about improving our productivity, sleep, burnout avoidance, and everything in between.
According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.
Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.
By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:
Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.
Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.
McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.
It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.
But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.
Read more at LinkedIn.
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