Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Fresh Face in Democratic Politics

The Leadership Myth

I've been making a bit of a point of this recently, Bush, but it bears repeating: it's time for otherwise moderate- to left-leaning folks--I won't even use the word "liberal"--to get past the myth so successfully promulgated by right-leaning folks that the Democrats lack vision and leadership. Once again, just a couple of days ago, an old friend of Ellie's repeated that tired old nonsense on the telephone as though it were some preordained and immutable truth.

It isn't. Enough, I say! Every time I hear this mind-benumbed cliche reiterated these days, I snap back, and I trust that more and more others are doing the same. There are proven leaders out there, and there is vision that has been validated by events. How long has Al Gore been trying to reach the American public (and its politicians!) on the subject of climate change? How long have men and women like Howard Dean, Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer spoken out honestly against the fiasco of your foreign policy and the incompetence of those you have appointed to high office? Their wisdom and prescience deserve not the ridicule too often heaped on them by rightist loudmouths, but recognition and praise.

I'm on this hobbyhorse again today after a brunch yesterday, to which Ellie and I were invited to meet Sean Patrick Maloney, a candidate for the Attorney General's office in New York--the job that Eliot Spitzer elevated to national prominence. An openly gay candidate, a man of a long-standing committed relationship and the devoted father of three adopted children, he impressed me enormously as having the knowledge, the intellect, the ethical values and the passion--not to mention the substance, strength and personal integrity as a man--that would serve the State of New York extraordinarily well, were he to be elected. He also has the political experience, having served in the previous administration as Bill Clinton's staff secretary--a baptism of fire, if ever there was one! He spoke with ease and eloquence, listened to questions from a small, attentive audience, and answered them forthrightly and with sensitivity to the variety of his questioners. He spoke not from some high perch of superior knowledge but with respect for the point of view of those who were genuinely interested in his positions.

Though he called himself in many respects "conservative" in his views--particularly on the fiscal front--he made no attempt to disguise or modify them for what seemed to me a largely liberal gathering of mostly gay men. He was refreshingly inclusive in his perception of the needs of our society. He was also in good command of his facts, and clear about his opinions without being glib. We could use more men like this in politics, Bush. And of course more women too.

A word about our fellow-guests at this event. To judge by the absurdly vacuous national "discussion" on the subject of gay marriage, we still seem to be a pathologically homophobic society. All too often we accept without question the stereotypes and prejudices that are handed us--and at our cost. It would have done the heart good, Bush, to see you stand as a man among men amongst these men and to have been open to their very real concern for the world in which we are all given to live, and which we are all responsible for shaping.

Maloney is promoting "an active and progressive agenda that includes full equality under the law for everyone." I believe him, and I share that aspiration. At the age of 39, this man has the time and the potential to grow into creditable national office. Let's encourage our readers, Bush, to visit the Sean Maloney for Attorney General website, and to add their encouragement to this potential new leader in the form of a donation to his campaign. It's not something I often do, but in this case I think it's worth it.


dcitron said...

Sean Maloney is indeed the honest, thoughtful, and dynamic leader that NY needs as its Attorney General. I worked with Sean at Willkie Farr many, many years ago, and I have enormous respect for him. Indeed, when I learned of his campaign, I thought that Sean is just the leader to bring back the sense that we can believe in government in the 21st century. In short, I am so excited for NY and only wished I lived there so I could vote for him. As a law professor and a parent, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that someone like Sean is out there, ready to lead. I just await his Presidential campaigns!

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for the response. It's encouraging to know that we have young leaders we can count on for the future. Cheers, PaL

Anonymous said...

Now that the primary has passed, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief and say: good riddance to Sean Maloney. He invokes many of the right ideals, sure, and it's possible he even believes in them if not just panders to them, but watch any of the videos on his site and try to muster belief in him? Impossible.