I rarely write about candidates running for public office. I prefer to address issues and I can get pretty passionate about that. But after listening to our own Minnesota senator, Amy Klobuchar, speaking at a town-hall meeting, I can’t help myself. This is not an endorsement. It is about how Amy rattled my thinking.
Generally, Amy holds the same positions I do on gun control, health care, education, etc. But she was painfully honest and realistic. I have never heard a candidate that didn’t talk about what they were going to do in office as though they were actually going to be in control of everything after their election. No one who seriously hoped to get elected ever suggested that they might have to compromise or take baby-steps when they get there. Amy wouldn’t even guarantee that what her constituents wanted could even be achieved. I wanted her to at least say that her long-run goal was what I wanted, namely single payer health care. Instead, she talked about fixing what is broken in Obamacare and tackling the problem of the drug costs. Her goal, she said, is to make health care affordable to all. She wouldn’t add much of anything to that. She said that we have to begin where you can expect to be successful.
She did the same thing with the Bernie Sanders idea of free education through a four year degree. She was speaking on a college campus and a student, whose monthly loan payment was more than his rent, questioned her about this. She talked about making junior college free because industry so desperately needs people trained. Because of this, she said, these students can almost be guaranteed jobs when they graduate. She also said that those buried in student debt should to have a way to renegotiate their loans to make them affordable. When the moderator reminded her that she was speaking on a college campus and that her answer might not be exactly what the student wanted to hear, she said, “I have to tell the truth. What is being asked is not attainable at this time. I want to focus on what we can do now.”
Amy has the best record on Capital Hill for getting legislation passed into law. After she announced her candidacy, a number of republican senators spoke about her as someone they could work with. One even added that he hoped his speaking on her behalf doesn’t hurt her campaign. She seems to understand that legislators represent different needs and finding solutions to problems can be a challenge. But she has never shied away.
As I have listened to candidates for public office, I used to smirk a bit when I would hear their promises, “I will…blah, blah bah.” “Yeah, right,” I’d say. “Wait until you get into office. No way in hell will you be able to do all that.” I understand how government works. Even in the perfect situation with everyone vying for a piece of the American pie, getting a broken bridge fixed in your state means some other state might not be able to invest in building public housing. But Amy did just this and could because she understands about cooperation and compromise. All legislators know this but they won’t tell you this when they are running for office.
I am as guilty as anyone and I felt guilty as I listened to Klobuchar speak. I know what I wanted to hear. I wanted my hopes lifted. What Amy was doing was shaking my tendency to not accept the realities of life as life is. Life is messy and making laws is messiness at its best. I feel challenged. I will support Amy Klobuchar because she has been so good for Minnesota. She visits every county in the state every year, not to campaign, but to listen to her people. My guess is that, if at all possible, she will do the same for each state if she becomes our next president.
I said this is not an endorsement. It still isn’t. This writing is more about me as a person and as a citizen. Am I really ready to accept such truth from a candidate?
I am working on it.