On Friday night I attended Senator Chris Dodd’s annual holiday gathering, as I have most years in the decade-plus since his 2008 campaign gave me my first “major” political gig. I go in part to see people (though less and less of my former co-workers attend), and in part out of respect- one of the most accomplished Senators of the last century actually employed me and invites me to join in the company of that room. It’s an honor, and one of only four reasons I put on a tie (funerals, weddings, and Presidential visits being the others).
There is a common theme in Presidential candidates I tend to like and support, one that Chris Dodd personified- experience, achievement, gravitas, accomplishments. This was true of Hillary Clinton, Wesley Clark, John Kerry, and obviously for Dodd. Chris Dodd authored or lead passage on the Family and Medical Leave Act, Dodd-Frank, the 2008 Mental Health Parity Act, Part of the Affordable Care Act, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, the India/U.S. Nuclear Accords, TARP, the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, the Class Action Fairness Reform Act of 2005, the Help America Vote Act, the Child Care Act, and numerous other pieces of legislation I can’t remember or name, but impacted millions of lives for the better. His career was one of achievement, he got things done, even when it wasn’t front page news. That’s what I tend to seek out in political leaders I support.
I am not looking for the 2020 Democratic nominee to inspire me. I’m not looking for a generational shift. I don’t care much for their rhetoric. Surely any Democratic nominee will come to the debate with a universal health plan, a climate change/energy policy, ideas to lower the cost of higher education, and a host of other liberal policy plans that we desperately need, even if they are just copied from their colleagues. I don’t give a damn about that, so long as they’re in the realm of reality. I care about how they’re going to get the plans passed and enacted into law. Show me your revenue streams to fund your ideas, tell me your Congressional allies you will work with. In a post-Trump world, cleaning up for a disaster administration, I need to see that you actually know what you’re doing. This is not a time for on-the-job training, just because I want to feel good and inspired by my choice. I’ll take an imperfect vessel if it can actually get us through the rocky waves of the world Trump is leaving us.
I recently attended George H.W. Bush’s lying in state at the Capitol, and they gave us a card on the way out that essentially had his government resume on the back. During the Cold War we tended to nominate and elect very experienced people for President, something that has become less common since then. Perhaps Americans would be much happier with their country if they’d seek that out again. The challenges we face today are every bit as complex and dangerous as they were then. Whether it’s Putin, Climate Change, automation, terrorism, globalization, nuclear proliferation, cyber warfare, or any of the other major global issues, we need someone ready for the job on day one. I don’t care how old they are, or exactly what’s on their resume. I do care that they have demonstrated the intellect, the grit, and execution to get things done. I do want to see that they have plans, not just words about what our road ahead shall be.