I bet you can think of some Missouri Democratic pols who have publicly bragged about how brave they are because they dare to embrace GOP memes and upset the folks who voted for them. They think they’re something because they defy “core constituencies” they perceive to be weak. Blogger and political scientist Jonathan Bernstein offers this corrective to that type of thinking in a post on the subject of Obama and political bravery:
Aw, might as well get to the main point that annoys me, which is the notion that [political] courage is about “taking on…”the “party’s core constituencies.” I’m just baffled by the importance the press places on this, apparently just for it’s own sake. It’s just nonsense to think that it’s often sensible for presidents to do it, and at any rate it has little to do with whatever political bravery is.
Goes for senators and other pols too.
It also suggests that perhaps political bravery might be better defined as actually standing up for the principles that led your core constituency to support you in the first place – no matter how hostile the political environment has become in the meantime. And, surprise, people actually respect that type of bravery; in our slick and duplicitous political world they even hunger for it. Duane Graham of the Erstwhile Conservative has this to say about the wrongheaded appeal that bullyboy Chris Christie exerts:
You know, the reason people like Chris Christie, and the reason he gets all kind of credit for being “outspoken” and “real,” is because he actually gets pissed off. Albeit he gets pissed off about the wrong things … but people like to see passion, and they especially like to see passion in defense of the average guy.
He’s right. Think about Barney Frank and, now, Elizabeth Warren. Both project passion, courage and commitment. In a moral sense they stand a continent away from the folks who disingenuously pat themselves on the back for timidly tiptoeing along the political road more traveled, no matter what hellhole it leads to. And, if you can take one more surprise, the Franks and the Warrens actually help create a new political environment, one that works for their core constituencies.