Yet another reminder politicians are people

Two quick contact reports:

  • Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed a cup of coffee with Mike Cakora, who recently returned to the blog as a regular commenter after a five-year absence. It was great to have him back, and I was happy to get to catch up with him. I knew Mike from before I started blogging. He was one of the guest columnists we recruited at The State, back in the days when we had the money and staff time for such things. We’d have these column-writing contests, and I was always gratified to see the hundreds of entries that would come in (considering that the rules required submitting three columns with little hope of their being published). Then we’d pick 8 for a year, and they’d each write a column a month, and we’d pay them a nominal amount for the columns. Mike was one of our winners one year. Anyway, we had a wide-ranging conversation about politics, working for a living in the New Normal, espionage (specifically, the TV show “The Assets”), and the social alienation that forms people like Edward Snowden. Mike and I see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but not everything.
  • Earlier, I’d had breakfast with Rep. James Smith. We talked about a number of things, too, such as whether he might run for governor in four years (he doesn’t know) and if he did, what lessons he might have learned from his friend Vincent Sheheen’s failed campaigns. (As it happened, Sheheen texted James while we were eating. He was in a deposition, and trying to adjust to getting back to earning a living with the campaign over.) At one point in the meal, Attorney General Alan Wilson came over to say hey. Any casual observer could see he and James get along well. But then, I’ve noticed Alan gets along well with a lot of Democrats, and James does so with a lot of Republicans. Alan turned to me, pointed to James and said, “This is my lawyer!” Rep. Smith represented his re-election campaign. After Wilson left, James said he has a lot of clients in the Legislature, including a number of Republicans. (So obviously, Kevin Hall and Butch Bowers don’t have all of them.) I noted that if he did run for governor, he might find a formidable opponent in his client Alan Wilson. He agreed. He said the same might be true of Tommy Pope (whose Twitter feed says he’s “working toward sc governor in 2018“).

Anyway, it was a perfectly ordinary slice of life, illustrating gently the point I try to make so often, because so many voters don’t seem to understand. Politicians aren’t just Democrats or Republicans. They’re not monolithic. At least, the good ones aren’t. They’re many-faceted. They’re actual, complete, three-dimensional people, who are capable of interacting with each other in normal, human ways, instead of as partisan automatons.

But y’all probably get tired of me making that point. Which I know sounds like such a stupid point: Of course they’re people, right? Well… I often think we don’t get that, going by what I see written and hear said about politics.

And maybe I do it in part because, after another election season in which most elections are foregone conclusions because of the way we’re separated into districts in which one or the other party dominates, I need to remind myself…


8 thoughts on “Yet another reminder politicians are people

  1. Lynn Teague

    Yes. They are people, with strengths and weaknesses like all the rest of us. If we know what those are, we can weigh what matters to us most, who among them is most likely to govern as we think they should in a particular position. It is often difficult. Of the politicians mentioned here, each has what I think of as important strengths. How does that play out in filling a specific role in governing?

    Sadly, the way that campaigns are run doesn’t tell us much of what we need to know. In fact, they often seem designed to obscure that. Nothing substitutes for looking at what the candidates have actually done. How does the average citizen who works and raises a family find the time to make an informed decision, in a time when there is a serious problem with the noise to signal ratio in our public discourse? Given the percentages of citizens who are voting, apparently many give up.

  2. Mark Stewart

    At the end of the day, it remains the voters’ responsibility to cut through the hyperbole and political spinning. They do need allies who can help pierce through the barriers to understanding though. But we all work and are concurrently engaged in other pursuits – the even the politicians themselves.

    There is so much irony in political speech that I couldn’t help but lead off with this groaner…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      When you start with, “At the end of the day,” you should end with, “to be continued…”

      And you should start about half your sentences with, “I would say…”

  3. Brad Warthen

    Enlarging on my “politicians are people” theme, Bob McAlister posted this on Facebook today:

    The biggest compliment I’ve been paid lately came today from Congressman Jim Clyburn, who asked me why I haven’t been writing newspaper columns lately: “I used to look forward to opening the newspaper so I could get pissed off.” I told him I stopped writing columns because I haven’t had an original thought in 30 years. It’s good to be able to laugh with people you don’t agree with politically–especially with a gentleman who is a historical figure in South Carolina.

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