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Pragmatic Governance Should Guide Democratic Voters

February 3, 2016

People can say a lot of things about me, and they most certainly do.   But there is one thing even my friends on the other side of the political aisle will have to agree with when it comes to my views.  I walk the talk.

Early in President Obama’s first term there were many gay Americans who were clamoring for a far more strident and determined approach to issues that impacted their lives.  Being gay, I too, wanted to see progress made and steps taken to remove DADT and work for marriage equality.

But I also knew the stimulus package, caring for the auto industry, and fashioning a health care plan was more than the most tip-top White House could handle all within the first year.  I stated at the time gay Americans needed to wait.  There was no doubt where Obama wanted to lead the nation about the issues which impacted me personally, but there was a need to govern with pragmatism given all the pressing needs of the country.

We waited, but in the end gay people prevailed.  The other major needs of the nation were also addressed and in so doing a lesson should be clear for Democrats as we seek our party nominee.

The passion and energy unleashed by Bernie Sanders is stunning and there is no way not to listen and be caught up in the mood.  But the lower-key style and skilled approach to meeting the challenges of national and international issues in the manner that Hillary Clinton approaches them is also to be highly valued.

It is great to dream bold as Sanders does, but in the real world of Washington one has to work not only with a diverse and mostly uncontrollable Congress but also bring along an increasingly partisan electorate that seems more inclined to head to the fringes than seek common cause in the middle.  Any president must understand from the start the best way to succeed is knowing pragmatism and compromise must be constantly used in governing.  As I watch and listen to Sanders there is nothing in his speeches or interviews which proves to me that he has a grasp of this essential lesson.

There are cheerful pleas for his audience to start a revolution and believe that college is going to be a free commodity in this nation.    Sanders expresses that taxes are going to be increased (something I feel should happen) but the ease with which he makes voters think these things can happen in modern-day Washington is akin to the guy who showed up in Dodge City trying to sell an elixir.   In Gunsmoke Matt Dillon helped move that type of salesman out of town.

In today’s rancorous nominating process it is Clinton who is bringing sanity to the populace.    Democrats just need to be smart enough to know why it is happening.

Her appeal to me and to many others in the party is the fact she has been able to effectively deal with issues and move matters forward.    After the dysfunctional way Congress has worked over the past seven years should prove that we at least need to have one part of our national government that is grounded in reality.  We need at least one leader in Washington come 2017 who has a dose of pragmatism along with an interest in making government work.

Many agree with me that over the past years the level of disagreement and polarization from Washington has been more than we ever thought possible.  Everything seems intractable when it comes to how our national government responds to the needs of the people.  Too many ideas have become the victim of old-fashioned partisan gridlock.   We must vote smart when selecting our Democratic nominee so that matters do not get worse.  We need to be as pragmatic in our voting for a nominee as our next leader will be in governing.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Solly permalink
    February 4, 2016 6:53 PM

    You forgot to end with, “Get off my lawn!”

  2. February 4, 2016 2:30 PM

    Those who want to win will be a part of the campaign for the nominee. But I would strongly encourage those who only want to create mischief to sit out this election. After all we have seen the harm that young and naïve voters can do as evidenced by Nader voters in 2000.

  3. Solly permalink
    February 4, 2016 1:42 PM

    I am soooooooooo glad to hear Deke is a “walk the talk” democrat. That will be very much needed after her royal highness’, I mean HRC’s smarmy spokespeople have been dissing Bernie and his supporters as naïve, pie in the sky idealists and trying to twist every Sanders position as an attack on Obama. Since HRC wants to wrap herself in Barry’s cloak, here are a few extensions of B.O.’s 2008 slogans, adapted for HRC’s 2016 campaign to inspire the naive: The fierce urgency of the status quo; Democratic-Clinton fatigue we can believe in; No we Can’t! (bother Wall Street after they’ve given me so much). From the Washington Post: “Through the end of December, donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial-services firms gave at least $21.4 U.S. million to support Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. This is more than one of every 10 dollars of the $157.8 million contributed to back her bid, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.” So Deke, I imagine after the convention, you’ll be knocking on doors and volunteering at headquarters 7 days a week to make up for all those naïve people clogging up the electoral process who think breaking up too big to fail banks, universal health care and higher education for all are “unachievable” and not worth aspiring to. Pity though that the adironack chair will be empty outside the ivory tower while you’re walking the talk knocking on doors and calling from HQ during prime season.

  4. February 4, 2016 1:17 PM

    The other example would be President Lincoln having his views written into the Emancipation Proclamation but not issuing it until there was time when the border states would not rebel. He had views on slavery that were timed for release as events on the military field made sense. Was it political? Yes. And a correct decision.

  5. February 4, 2016 11:36 AM

    What I have long felt when it comes to Obama and gay marriage is that indeed he did take a position for political reasons when he was opposed to it. His fuller understanding about the constitution and his ability to speak to the law when he fielded questions or in his writings allowed me to firmly feel that he was always for marriage equality. He waited for the public to get to the point where we then could step up. That may not the bravest act, I most readily agree. But that is not so different from what the Supreme Court does with major rulings–gay marriage is an example. It has been written about in legal circles that the abortion decision was not wrong legally but had it been allowed to gain acceptance in states one by one for a longer time then once the SC ruled it would have been less contentious than history shows it to have been.

  6. tom permalink
    February 4, 2016 10:49 AM

    What you are saying is that Sanders is a fringe candidate–and I agree. His supporters are unable to consider the very real costs of those dreams or the unintended consequences likely to follow.

    I also think you give Obama way too much credit for his switch on gay marriage. It was entirely political or his earlier opposition to it was. Both cases demonstrate a serious lack of moral leadership. You want him to have been on your side, so you bend reality to make it so. This is fine, but you should then allow everyone else to go back and rewrite their history, too.

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