This past Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered his first “State of the Union” address to Congress, U.S. citizens, and anyone else in the world who was interested.  Immediately afterwards (as is our tradition) the other major party – in this case the Republicans – had the opportunity to offer their response (delivered by Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell).

As soon as the the speeches were finished, the Drama Triangle rocketed back into full gear as pundits, the public and everyone else who has not succumbed to resignation regarding the state of U.S. politics offered their opinions and judgments about one, the other or both of the perspectives put forward in the addresses.

There is possibly no other aspect of U.S. society in which the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) – and its toxic brew of interplay between the roles of Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer – is so pervasive.

Here is just one example: depending on one’s perspective and affiliation, President Obama can be cast in any of the roles.  Some see him as a Persecutor, as his proposed policies, perceived shifting of message and priorities, and leadership style evokes fear, anger, frustration, etc.  Others see him as a Victim of misunderstanding, misinterpretation and the target of unfair “slings and arrows” as he seeks to lead a nation through a time of trials and tribulations (of course, that has always been the case for all presidents!).  Still others see him as the great Rescuer who has the answers to solving all the pressing and complex problems of the day.

And, of course, those who have a strong affiliation with a particular party see the politics and politicians of other parties as the Persecutor; citizens as Victim; and their party’s policies and politicians as the Rescuer.

As is the case in any set of interactions in which the DDT dominates, so much of the drama is fear-based and problem-focused.

There is a common formula that I predict we will see played out over and over and over again during the upcoming “mid-term” elections.  It goes something like this:

  1. Don’t vote for (the other candidate [i.e. Persecutor]);
  2. because if you do his/her policies and approach will result in (some fear-based, unacceptable and ill-advised outcome [and the public will become the Victim]).  The way to avoid that is to
  3. vote for (me/our candidate) who has the real answers and solutions and right approach (and will, therefore, serve as your Rescuer from all the problems we face).

The DDT – and the Victim Orientation in which it thrives – is deeply and darkly the default frame of political discourse.  Most of the energy goes to focusing on what one doesn’t want and doesn’t like about opposing perspectives.

As a Creator committed to practicing TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) and to embodying its roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach, I am committed to focusing my contribution to the political conversation (and I DO have my opinions and perspective) to what I choose to support, nurture, reinforce and – at times –  challenge.

We need a new frame for the conversation.

One of the best that I know of is put forward in The Politics of Hope: Reviving the Dream of Democracy, by Donna Zajonc.  (I have been both deeply affected by the book and am deeply biased, as the author is my wife.   It should also be noted that this book was published in 2004, long before anyone else had the audacity to put the words “politics” and ‘hope” in the same sentence.)

The February, 2008 edition of the “TED* Letter” e-zine was entitled “TED* for President.” It concluded with the following:

  • “Who would “TED* for President” see as those who are called to help co-create the solutions and outcomes? We the people. We are co-creators of our culture – in our neighborhoods, local communities, states, regions, nations, and world. “

The invitation is to turn our individual and collective focus in our public political discourse from perpetuating the DDT to encaging TED* as we co-create solutions to the challenges in our world.


(“TED* Thoughts” is a published three times a week [at least most of the time]. It is intended to offer reflections and applications of The Power of TED* in order help facilitate a shift in worldview and relationship dynamics from the Drama Triangle [or the Dreaded Drama Triangle] to The Empowerment Dynamic [TED*].  Please help spread TED* by sharing this “TED* Thoughts” and by contributing your own thoughts by posting a comment.  To the Creator in you!)

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