Back in May, I did a blog post floating the idea of a professional political protest called, "Professional Communicators Against Trump." The post itself went on a bit, asking communicators to judge the Trump campaign against long-established ethical tenets, like, "Professional communicators are honest not only with others but also, and most importantly, with themselves as individuals; for a professional communicator seeks the truth and speaks that truth first to the self."
Here's a slightly edited version of my original rationale for Professional Communicators Against Trump:
If there is any constant message Trump's candidacy has sent, it is that consistent, coherent, careful communication is for chumps.
And yet these are values that communicators have devoted their work lives, however successfully, to upholding, in the difficult context of organizations full of people who don't.
If Trump wins, communicators lose. And it's worse than that, because it's more immediate than that: As long as Trump is winning, communicators are losing their essential argument that sincere communication is effective communication.
Every day that Trump has permission to occupy the public stage, communicators lose our collective claim—and it has always been tenuous!—to ethical virtue and social usefulness. Maybe that's why I get heart palpitations while watching "The Morning Joe."
Maybe I think that it's not just our country whose soul is eroded by this man's vulgar lies. Maybe I think our livelihood is at stake, and maybe even the particular meaning of our life, as communicators.
And maybe we ought to do something about it.
Our communication associations—IABC and PRSA—have talked over the years about creating "advocacy" arms, that would argue for the interests of communicators. But the problem has always been defining issues that all communicators can get behind. Maybe we've finally found one.
Maybe some of us ought to form Professional Communicators Against Trump. And use our considerable communication skills, while those skills are still salient. Use those skills to point out to our fellow Americans that, whatever we think of Donald Trump's policies, he is destroying our ability to communicate with one another.
Maybe we will say: American communicators will not stand by and watch as a political candidate destroys the concept of truth in our country, and thus destroys the country itself.
It's not May anymore, and it shouldn't be maybe anymore. It's time for each American citizen to consider what we can contribute in this moment—or at the very least, take a stand we'll be proud of, against a campaign that that we know has gone several orders of magnitude beyond any definable ethical line. For professional communicators, maybe this is what we can contribute.
I've lent the Professional Speechwriters Association's logo endorsement to a new set of presidential debate standards put out by the National Institute for Civil Discourse. But Professional Communicators Against Trump is something people would each have to sign onto individually.
Communicator, we'll see the debate Monday, I'll bend some ears at the PSA World Conference next week, and we'll discuss the wisdom such a petition back here the first week of October.