Inspiration: Teddy Roosevelt on labels

Teddy Roosevelt circa 1902
I suppose whether you think Teddy Roosevelt was a great president depends on your politics, but it would be hard to argue that he was not a successful leader.
In 1902, Roosevelt was searching for a way to end a long-running coal strike without taking extra-constitutional (quite possibly unconstitutional) action. He was being urged variously to send in federal troops to break the strike, or to send in the same troops to seize the mines from the operators. He had finally gotten both sides to agree to a temporary halt in the strike with a commission appointed to settle the dispute.
The mine operators were holding firm that this commission could not include a labor leader, lest that be construed as recognition of the miner’s union. Unsurprisingly, the miner’s union was holding just as firm that a labor leader must be on the commission.
With a flash of insight, Roosevelt suggested that he would appoint E.E. Clark, the head of the railway conductors’ union, to the commission as an “eminent sociologist”, which was acceptable to the operators.
In his own words “I at last grasped the fact that the mighty brains of these captains of industry had formulated the theory that they would rather have anarchy than tweedledum, but if I would use the word tweedledee they would hail it as meaning peace.”
A great reminder that words matter. Sometimes finding a small face-saving gesture — even a better label for the same truth — can get everyone to the table. In this case, Roosevelt found a way to end a months-long standoff that had sent coal prices skyrocketing without having to send in federal troops.

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