I come from the old-school of politics where pragmatism and compromise are the bedrocks of a functioning government. I know that to be true because of reading history, but also from working in a legislative body where coalition building, from both ends of the divide, was critical for passage of bills. That lesson is an easy one to digest. Today’s opponents will wind up being the final votes tomorrow for passage of another bill. That is the politics I know quite well. It is also the politics that a younger and more brash group of voters seem not to recognize.
Over the past weeks, and especially over the past few days, there has been a flurry of headlines about Joe Biden regarding the work he did to meet the needs of his elected United States Senate seat. What has developed is a most intense dispute over how politics actually works. On one side are the realists who know the machinery of politics. On the other side are those who wish for a fairy-tale concerning how this profession operates. In the middle of the road is Joe Biden as he attempts to navigate his decades of Washington experience around that segment of primary voters who are out-of-touch with political reality.
I do not align with the political purists in my party. Not even in years past when it came to issues which are personal to me, such as those impacting the gay community. I knew the larger scorecard about a wide ranging list of issues was the one that mattered most.
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 was demonstrated. That same lesson needs to be learned by a whole new segment of voters.
Any president must understand from the start the best way to succeed is knowing pragmatism and compromise must be constantly used in governing. I know it is too much to ask for, but primary voters need to know the same. What we are witnessing this week is how far adrift from political reality a segment of the electorate happens to be when it comes to pragmatism. Sadly, this time it is happening to my party. That displease me greatly.
Long-time readers know my deep fondness for the most incredible research and faith-of-mission that Robert Caro has demonstrated with his multi-volume narrative of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Before one can use power it must first be gained. Harnessed. Mastered. Then as LBJ’s work for civil rights proves, that power can be used for the betterment of the nation. But the use of power, even for the most moral of purposes, can be tough and brutal.
To secure passage of the bills, which were needed to compensate for our nation’s original sin, required political deals and doses of realism which would send today’s purists into full-body shock. I suggest before anyone tries to smear Biden for doing the work of a politician–a job he was repeatedly elected to perform–they get a better handle on the history of our nation.
I fear that if the purists continue to show nothing but outrage for Democratic candidates who are best aligned for a general election, there will be nothing to show for their efforts but another four years of the undermining of law and order.