March 14, 2019

I'm not a big fan of these tabula rasa charismatic personalities. I believe in policy, and I believe in political experience. After listening on CNN's New Day to Sen. Sherrod Brown first give a passionate, nuanced attack on Trump's tax proposals, and then to see all the energy shift to his lukewarm reaction to a question about Beto O'Rourke announcing his candidacy, I had to shake my head. Brown is a master of policy and an unabashed progressive voice, and Beto was... a member of the New Democrat Coalition, the pro-business deficit hawks.

I read the Vanity Fair profile last night, and he sounds dangerously naive about his ability to work with Republicans:

“My sense is, following some success that I had in Congress, and working with Republicans to actually get things signed into law, including both President Obama and President Trump’s administrations, that I may have an ability to work with people who think differently than I do, come to a different conclusion that I’ve come to on a given issue, and yet find enough common ground to do something better than what we have right now.”

How do you watch eight years of the Obama presidency and come to the conclusion that if you just have the right personality, you can work with Republicans? (hits head on desk) This is a systemic obstacle, not a matter of being nice and listening to people!

O’Rourke tried defining himself as an independent voice in Congress, willing to buck party orthodoxy. He co-sponsored a bill with John Cornyn, Republican senator from Texas, to increase border security at ports of entry, and he didn’t always vote alongside liberal Democrats. The Guardian, citing analyses on O’Rourke’s voting record, concluded that he’d voted with Republicans 167 times over six years, and roughly a third of the time in the last two years alone.

Now, I know being a backbencher from Texas might cause you to vote differently to represent your district. But he's said other things that lead me to believe he's not all that attached to most Democratic positions. Elizabeth Bruenig wrote in the Washington Post:

We still have time to pick a politician with a bold, clear, distinctly progressive agenda, and an articulated vision beyond something-better-than-this, the literal translation of hope-change campaigning. Beto is a lot like Obama, true; it’s perhaps time for left-leaning Democrats to realize that may not be a good thing.

It's not enough to be nice, or enthusiastic. Because wanting to be nice and get approval leaves you open to coercion and persuasion on issues like cutting Social Security, because the people explaining it to you sound so reasonable.

So when Sherrod Brown does the equivalent of an eye-roll to Beto's announcement, I want to yell, "Yes, Sherrod, I'm right there with you."

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