In Case You’re Wondering, This Republican Is With…

My friends, this election is going to be great! Believe me awesome, the greatest we’ve ever seen!

We will see the highest turnout in the modern day era.  Believe me, it’s going to be great seeing so many people, of all walks of life, rural and urban come vote!   It reminds me of the images of South Africans once disenfranchised, standing in line for hours to vote for Nelson Mandela in 1994.  We and the world may we see that this year in America. A lot of people who usually stay home, will come out to vote!  That doesn’t mean we will all agree on who to vote for.  Our nation is split right down the middle.  Nevertheless, we all need to vote!

No one can stand on the sidelines for this one.  No one should.  Why, because this election is going to be great and all votes will matter.  I promise you, they will really matter. Remember the 2000 voter debacle in Florida?  If you think there were issues then, wait til you get a load out of November 2016.  There will be voter issues, so know your rights!

On one side we have Donald Trump who has energized his base.  A reality television celebrity, he’s got a solid base. On the other, we have Hillary Clinton.  A woman in the public eye over forty years running an historic campaign as the first woman of a major political party to win her Party’s nomination.

Trump has fired a wall of division into the air.  That’s made some friends on the Republican side nervous and they haven’t embraced him.  They also find it hard to back Clinton.   Then there are my friends who despite his wall of division are embracing Trump. These are not just White, uneducated voters as some on the other side seem to think.  These friends are of all races and very educated.  And they’ve taught me a lot.  One is to accept their choice. Know what, they’re right!  I’m okay with it. I love them even if I disagree with them.  That’s what makes America great!  We can agree to disagree.

That’s why, my friends who don’t like politics, I’m not asking you to change and like politics.  I am asking you to be engaged.  If you don’t stay engaged, if you don’t vote, a narcissistic, pompous bigot is going to occupy the White House and destroy years of progress.  After years of gridlock in politics, maybe that’s what America deserves! I don’t believe that, but if people don’t vote, that is what we are going to get.

Believe me, I promise you, it’s going to get nastier when the debates begin.  My fear is Hillary will not do well in those debates.  Not against Trump.  This man believes any lie he makes up.  How do you combat that? One person can’t, but many can.

This election is about American values. How do we ensure everyone has equal access to education, healthcare and jobs. I’ve been on this soapbox for years. When we don’t vote, we get politicians who take us into an economic recession, fiscal cliff and government shutdowns!

Heard the saying, We get the politicians we deserve. That’s why Congress is mired in gridlock and state legislatures battle over ObamaCare and education funding. We get what we deserve when we don’t vote.

We get them when the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo and sports programming takes our attention away from the real reality television show – politics, where politicians decision impact each and every one of us.

Do we deserve Trump? If we don’t vote and stay informed, unfortunately, yes we do. We’ve seen what happens when we can’t  vote.  Isn’t that what we saw in slavery when Blacks and women were not allowed to vote?  And through segregation, when Blacks died for the right to vote?

I know, its not easy, but I promise you, believe me, the alternative, not staying engaged and voting  is a lot worse. If we all vote, those for and against Trump, it will be great for America.  A Clash of Titans!

Who will win? I don’t know. I believe, the diversity of our nation, the merging of our cultures, the fabric of our values are intact.  For that, I have hope that Hillary Clinton will win.

As a descendant of slaves and slave masters, I am inextricably linked to the origins of our nation once mired in slavery.  That origin evolved into segregation and from there other issues emerged like immigration, women’s right to choose, sexual orientation and identity.   More of us are on the side that recognizes #BlackLivesMatter.  And we know that #BlueLivesMatter because by extension we all believe #AllLivesMatter.  But right now, we need a leader that understands why this is important today.

I’m with her because, for whatever mistakes she made or decisions she made in the past, she’s consistently chosen to be on the side of the majority in good and bad times. There are more of us together on these issues than ever before.  And we need a leader who has the courage to address and change when the times call for it, because she listens to the people.

For that, I believe if we stick together on both sides, what will emerge is a referendum on our past, and a signal to all of us that CHANGE happened in 2008. And when it’s all said and done, she’s the best leader for all.  Despite the gridlock in Congress and our state legislatures, as a nation we are moving FORWARD in the right direction. That’s why it’s up to all of us to VOTE!

And it’s why I’m with Her!  Whether you are with her or not, will you please, Vote?



They Aren’t Going to Like This!

Politics has always fascinated me.  When I was four, I told my parents, “I am going to be the first Black President!”  Almost forty years ago, that seemed impossible. But in 1978, at the age of six, I saw Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at the Camp David Accords with President Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin hammering out an agreement for peace between Israel and Egypt.

I studied Sadat. Why not? He looked like me.  His hair was gray, but the texture looked like mine. I could relate to him even more, when I learned he was a Muslim like my family. At first, I was alarmed that he smoked a pipe. But that made me look closer and see something I have found in other courageous leaders.

They are pensive. Sadat looked this way with his pipe in hand. But like courageous leaders, sometimes he looked sad. Not the kind of sad you and I feel. His was a retrospective sadness. Like he was thinking, “They aren’t going to like this, but it is the right thing to do.”

That look comes from knowing they may be right but have to move a mountain of naysayers to get the people onboard. Who wouldn’t be sad knowing this lies ahead. That is why CHANGE is hard and we see many leaders instead of standing up with courage, they turn and run the other way.

Equipped with this difficult task, on the global stage Sadat still often flashed a big smile. Begin and Carter did too. Their smiles on September 17th, 1978, were one of hope, that together they would move that mountain.

History shows that courageous leaders against great opposition, inspire hope.  They inspire even when we aren’t ready to travel the road less traveled. Fortunately, we have had Presidents do this, even when our Congress disagrees. Domestically this was the case with slavery, segregation and women’s right to vote.

Internationally we saw it when President John F. Kennedy negotiated behind the scenes with Russia averting war over the Cuban missile crisis.  When President Richard Nixon negotiated and then visited China.  And when, President Ronald Reagan negotiated with Russia to eliminate intermediate range and shorter range missiles. All decisions that altered the course of history using the strength of diplomacy over the power of war.

The Iran agreement is a pathway forward that trusts the strength of our diplomacy. What fourteen countries including the U.S., Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany achieved is historic.

Leaders like South African President Nelson Mandela whose nation was imperiled by apartheid offered his nation a better way forward.  If we look at photos and video of Mandela, you might see the look of pensiveness and sadness once he left prison.  Yet, close your eyes and remember his great smile.  It is like he knew something we didn’t.  And he provided hope to his nation and led them from apartheid to liberation.

Like Mandela, Obama now will try to offer that hope to our Congress who disagree with his decision with Iran. Congress will debate it and may vote against it. The reality is there is no agreement the GOP  would accept. They prefer fear, conflict and tension.  That is why this agreement puts Obama in the category of Presidents like Mandela, Kennedy, Carter, Nixon, Reagan, Sadat and Begin.

He made a hard decision that leads to a better pathway for peace.  And opens pathways for the world to get to know Iran better.  Because of the Camp David Accords I have been able to visit Egypt, South Africa and Israel.  I hope in the near future, peace in Iran makes it possible to travel there.

CHANGE is difficult for some to accept.  At times, leaders feel like they are stuck in quick sand moving large numbers out of an abyss of despair. They cannot walk like they are on land. They have to rise above the danger and see, then communicate that help and a brighter future with a better way is ahead of them.

Some leaders don’t have that ability.  More importantly, they don’t possess the talent or ability to inspire hope .  So they use fear to keep people close. This causes more friction and danger. We see this too often here and abroad. It keeps wars going for too long.

That’s why President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s words are still used today. During a time of great economic calamity he said in his first Inaugural Address that the “only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Fear has been used for centuries to keep us from moving FORWARD. The awakening of the intellectual spirit is offering hope that there is a new and better way FORWARD. That is what this agreement is really about, a better way FORWARD.

We won’t know for weeks, years or decades to come, if Iran will hold up its end of the bargain. But we should give it a try. And whether you do or don’t applaud the President for it, at least support him in the short term for diverting our nation from a course that would lead to another war.

The President like those before him often has that pensive look. At times, he has a look of sadness in his eyes. Moving a mountain is no small feat. Over the past six years, we have seen his big smile!  It is a smile of HOPE. It tells us everything is going to be okay. He is battle tested and deserves our support on this decision. The President has led our nation out of economic uncertainty, stabilized global markets and got us out of two wars.

He has moved mountains and as a leader he continues to make the hard decisions, not the popular one. His hair is gray much like Sadat’s almost four decades ago. He like Sadat, Begin and Carter during the Camp David Accords is trying to make America safer.

Some child or children are watching Obama as I watched Sadat thirty-nine years ago because they can relate to him. More importantly, they are watching us. Let’s give them the best example to follow. One that shows that together, we can move big mountains and make the world a better place for us all!

Atiba Madyun is President of The Madyun Group (TMG), a Public Affairs firm in Washington, DC and creator of Cognitive Relevance (CR) and Party Politics (PP).  Follow him on Twitter @atibamadyun or Like Atiba Madyun on Facebook.



I remember it like yesterday.  The crowd was anxious for “Nelson Mandela’s” arrival!

It was June 1990 and I was home for the summer.  My mother called me to the phone and Ibrahim Mu’min a family friend asked if I would like to attend the Nelson Mandela speech?

Mandela had in February that year been released after spending 27 years in prison.  He was to give a speech in DC at one of the most talked about events in DC and I had a ticket!

Writing twenty three years later, tears fill my eyes thinking of that blessing and opportunity to see Mandela.  I didn’t know then, it would be the only time I would be in the same room as this great man.

I’ve been blessed to meet many famous people. On several occasions, I have been near Muhammad Ali who stood up for what he believed. But Mandela, I felt was as close as I would come to meeting someone like Dr. King or Mahatma Ghandi.

Seeing and hearing Mandela that day outranks any president or icon I have ever met.  That day, I didn’t touch Mandela but he touched me with his presence and his words.  I didn’t get to say hello to him, but being in the same room was amazing.

The energy and excitement of people celebrating his struggle was powerful.  To leave prison and speak about love after 27 years of your life have been stripped and appear peaceful was inspiring.

I have heard others speak of feeling a powerful presence when in a room with Mandela. That day, we felt it.  There was something special about this man.  He appealed to us because he was more than a human being.  We saw in him, what God intends from each of us.  We saw the example of the simplicity of “being human.”

That day changed me just as he changed a nation and moved the world.  This is why, I love this man.  It is the “power of his example” that made us love him.

Today, I am moved not by his death, but by his life.  There is no person in my lifetime that has more reach or global recognition than Nelson Mandela.

That day, June 26, 1990 we cheered when we were told he was in the building.   “he’s in the building.”  People on the front row cheered.  We all cheered as news spread that he was behind the curtain.  When he was introduced, we cheered, clapped and stomped our feet.  This humble man from South Africa in that moment was with us.  We were with him and we celebrated.

When he stepped onto the stage, he waved to the crowd.  He walked the stage and the cheering was so loud you could not hear the person next to you.  He had not uttered a word yet, we were so happy to see him.  I’ve never been a part of a louder audience.

That building we were in was torn down a few years ago.  New buildings are coming and replacing the old convention center.  Perhaps one day a plaque will be placed there, so others will know, he was there.  Today, I pulled out my ticket from that day. My piece of history.  I will forever be thankful for Ibrahim sharing that ticket.  You see he marched as a student, he sat at the lunch counters that were segregated and was arrested during the civil rights movement.  Years later, he was arrested protesting apartheid in front of the South African embassy.

Mandela inspired many like Ibrahim to stand up to injustice.  Mandela’s reach goes farther than his physical stature ever could.  Isn’t that God like?  His energy moved his country and inspired the world.

What I felt that day is stronger today.  I understand more today, why his life has so much meaning.  None of us will achieve his stature.  Because none of us have to endure what he did.  We love him because he endured it for us. He is the embodiment of Christ, Moses and Mohammed.  He showed us strength and compassion.

He belongs to the ages.  It is our responsibility to honor him by carrying his message and live his example.  Peace, reconciliation, and above all love are what he means to me.

My former intern Nadine Moodie is South African and lives there. I asked her to share the mood of her country.

“There’s a buzz in the air. The Grand Parade is filled with people mourning and celebrating Madiba’s life. I was born during apartheid but have no recollection of the system because of the freedom which Madiba and so many others fought for. His life is a symbol to all to always strive for peace and to do the right thing despite opposition.”

Over the next few days, we will find personal ways to celebrate Madiba.  He was a man who t in our eyes he was perfect.  We love him as a human being, but we will cherish him and his memory for showing us the excellence of “being human.”

I love this man, and I never met him. I love him because his life and example make me want to be a better human being.  Often, we face challenges. But nothing can be more challenging than being in prison for standing up for what is right and bending the moral arc of justice.  I love him because he leaves a wonderful example for all humanity.   hope to each day be more patient, more loving, more compassionate and follow the wonderful example of Madiba.

President Mandela, Madiba, thank you for showing us how to forgive, how to reconcile, how to love and above all, Thank You for making the world a better place than the one you were born into 95 years ago.

We will miss your physical presence.  It is now up to us to teach and inspire future generations by using your words and example.

I hope that you will visit and leave a message of appreciation for the man we all love Nelson Mandela.

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Part II: One Nation Under God — Happy 237th Birthday America

Part II: Sweet Apple Pie — Happy 237th Birthday America

I am, as Maya Angelou said, “the hope and the dream of the slave.” That slave who worked the fields dreaming of freedom, of owning a business, a home and farm their own land. My great-great-great grandparents on both sides of my family shared that dream. On both, my mother and father’s side, their great-great-grandparents and great-grandparents and grandparents and parents owned hundreds of acres of land in North Carolina and Virginia. Some of that land remains in our family. The grandparents of my aunt Elberta Armstrong, who died earlier this year, two days after her 104th birthday, were former slaves who bought hundreds of acres of land in North Carolina. This is part of the American story.

I am an American and the descendant of slaves. One of them was the first African-American invited as a guest into the White House. His name was Frederick Douglass. I am also a descendant of a man who led the South’s Confederate troops during the Civil War. His name was General Robert E. Lee. I am a part of the American story.

This is why America, I embrace you as an American and not a minority. I identify with that part of me that connects to the majority. When you look on me, you are reminded that I am a descendant of slaves. I look at you with forgiveness because I am as much entitled to sweet apple pie as anyone. My ancestors built this country even when others tried to tear it apart. You see my ancestors built buildings here that are symbols of freedom that dignitaries and ordinary citizens come from near and far to visit.

The more I embrace the whole, the more I smell sweet apple pie. The more I smell, the more I want for our nation to be better, and the bigger my heart becomes. The better I see you for the sum of your parts. The wider the path becomes, and the brighter the light on the path guiding me to sweet apple pie.

You see instead of relying on the government, my role is to help the government make a level playing field for everyone and that includes working so we can make bake a bigger, sweeter apple pie for the growing needs of a growing nation. Happiness in the words “pursuit of happiness” is the pursuit of that sweet apple pie. And the framers were wise to put language there saying “the pursuit of happiness” not entitled to happiness…” Too many today stay at home waiting for their entitlement, while others work hard and still find the pie too hard to get.

Recently, I visited the Lincoln Memorial with a very open heart. I was moved more than ever by President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and better recognized this one thing, the price for freedom has never come without a cost.

I could see Lincoln on the battlefield, as I read his words, days after thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers died.

“It is for us the living, rather, to dedicate here, to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

That struggle goes on every day here and around the world on battlefields near and far. We are blessed today to witness forms of peaceful demonstration like the one in Egypt where the people came together to overthrow not one president but now two. We are blessed in our lifetime to witness someone like Nelson Mandela keep a nation together and lead it to reconciliation in a way Lincoln was unable to avoid. And I believe in some way, Mandela and Lincoln are intangibly responsible for America electing President Barack Obama as our first African-American president.

So today on the Fourth of July, as you eat your sweet apple pie at your barbeques and family gatherings, envision having your share of the pie every day. Let’s today celebrate our nation’s birthday, remembering Mandela’s words after being released from prison:

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

Let’s let the bitterness that divides us go and become the United States of America. Whether it is race, gender, religion, cultural or political differences that divide, let’s move toward a collective spirit where we choose unity over division, love over hate, nation over race and humanity over all other things.

Let us be “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for All.”