I’m astounded by the number of purity tests and “the perfect is the enemy of the good” sentiments coming from some Democratic Party primary voters this year. Do these voters insist on perfection from anyone else in their lives — their significant others, friends, bosses, co-workers or family members? Do they receive it? Has anyone in their lives never disappointed them? So why are voters expecting perfection and purity from their presidential candidates? I have no doubt that President Hillary Clinton will disappoint me sometimes, and that’s fine with me.With U.S. presidents having to represent over 300 million people, it would be strange indeed if a presidential candidate agreed with any one person on every issue. In fact, if I found out that a candidate agreed with me on everything, I would want that person to be investigated for cyber stalking me.
Furthermore, perfection and purity certainly are not what we’ve gotten from past presidents:
–President Bill Clinton disappointed me with his Republican-framed Defense of Marriage Act and Welfare Reform.
–Going back further, President Lyndon Johnson disappointed me with his Vietnam War escalation and Gulf of Tonkin farce.
–President John F. Kennedy disappointed me by increasing U.S. presence in Vietnam and his inability to get much of his agenda passed by Congress.
President Franklin Roosevelt disappointed me with his Supreme Court packing scheme.
Even Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington must have disappointed their supporters sometimes.
But those presidents also did great and good things that helped many people, including: Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, winning World War II, the Apollo Space Program, the economic Stimulus, the Affordable Care Act, many fabulous Supreme Court nominees, etc. Most of those achievements were-hard-fought, with arm-twisting, horse-trading & compromises along the way. It’s called negotiation. It’s called the Real World. It’s called having a Congress and federal courts as co-equal branches of government. There’s a reason why the legislative process is called “sausage-making,” but presidents don’t get to rack up achievements without it.
Is the 80 percent rule too much (too little) to ask? That’s the rule, attributed to Ronald Reagan, that says, if a politician agrees with me 80 percent of the time, he or she is “with me.” In this respect, Hillary Clinton has a long progressive record, and is likely to be “with” most Democratic voters on most issues. An 80 percent rule isn’t “settling.” It isn’t “cynical.” It isn’t sacrificing one’s principals for the sake of expedience. It’s simply a recognition of human behavior that would seem necessary to succeed in any walk of life.
I’ve practiced the 80 percent rule during the Democratic Party primaries, and I will continue to practice it during President Hillary Clinton’s (hopefully) two terms in the White House. I’m sure I will be disappointed sometimes, but that’s life.
Image by Daniel Oines, used under Creative Commons license. https://is.gd/amgPOz