Opinion | From Biden to Cheney to Manchin, Are Politicians Brave Anymore?

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What characteristics make a good leader?
What characteristics
make a good leader?


“Compassion.”


Annie,


27, Illinois, Leans Democrat


“Consistency.”


Aaliyah,


23, Florida, Independent


“No sugarcoating.”


Barrett,


39, Texas, Leans Democrat

For all the attention Liz Cheney, Mike Pence and Cassidy Hutchinson have received recently, their acts of political bravery — standing up to Donald Trump and facing threats to their safety and future as a result — are hardly defining features of our current political moment. Bravery and courage are not only leadership traits seldom seen by Americans but also qualities subject to debate: By refusing to go along with Mr. Trump’s subversion of the election, was Mr. Pence brave or simply doing his job? Is Ms. Cheney courageous in her pursuit of Mr. Trump, or is she thumbing her nose at the many Wyoming Republicans who elected her and still embrace him?

In our latest Times Opinion focus group, which took place before the July Fourth weekend, a mix of 10 Democrats, independents and Republicans said they were hungry for leadership. They admired people they saw as patriots, like Ms. Cheney, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and, in some cases, President Biden for making the hard call to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. But what several of them wanted — leaders willing to tell hard truths, go against the grain, stand up for something unpopular — seemed to them qualities belonging to past leaders: Winston Churchill, the suffragists, Moses. Still, they saw glimmers in politicians like Pete Buttigieg, Katie Porter and Joe Manchin, though Mr. Manchin divided the group sharply.

We wanted to understand how Americans saw political bravery and courage — and who they saw displaying it — in an era when political posturing, attacks and stunts are so much more common. The conversation ultimately turned back toward ourselves, with a Democrat from California arguing that Americans get the politicians they deserve — that, in other words, if politicians today aren’t brave and courageous, it might be because we aren’t brave and courageous, either.


Barrett


39, Texas, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat


Aaliyah


23, Florida, Asian, Tech, Independent


Tiffany


30, Georgia, Black, Clothing Designer, Leans Democrat


Angel


25, Ohio, Asian, Engineer, Leans Republican


David


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent


Annie


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat


Susan


64, New Jersey, White, Retired, Independent


Jeremiah


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent


Roger


51, California, Black, Real Estate Broker, Leans Democrat


Barry


57, California, White, Retired, Independent


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Who do you think of as a good leader?


Roger,


51, California, Black, Real Estate Broker, Leans Democrat

First person that comes to mind is Barack Obama.


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

Angela Merkel.


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

Barack Obama and the coach of my beloved Celtics, Ime Udoka.


Angel,


25, Ohio, Asian, Engineer, Leans Republican

Elon Musk.


Tiffany,


30, Georgia, Black, Clothing Designer, Leans Democrat

LeBron James.


Barry,


57, California, White, Retired, Independent

George W. Bush.


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

The mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia. He’s wonderful, and he’s coming up quickly on the platform.


Aaliyah,


23, Florida, Asian, Tech, Independent

Bill Gates.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

What characteristics make a good leader?


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

Effective communication.


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

Compassion, understanding, being a servant leader.


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

Honesty.


Aaliyah,


23, Florida, Asian, Tech, Independent

Consistency.


Roger,


51, California, Black, Real Estate Broker, Leans Democrat

Clear direction.


Barrett,


39, Texas, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

Straightforward, no sugarcoating.


Tiffany,


30, Georgia, Black, Clothing Designer, Leans Democrat

Not being afraid of doing what is right, no matter what everyone else thinks.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

How do you define bravery? What does it mean to be brave?


Susan,


64, New Jersey, White, Retired, Independent

You see a situation, have a solution, and you go and you do it. You pretty much do it without fear because you have a level of confidence that you know what you’re doing.


Angel,


25, Ohio, Asian, Engineer, Leans Republican

Bravery is not being afraid to do something that you want to do. It does not necessarily have to be the right thing. It’s just going for what you believe in, regardless of who’s watching you.


Aaliyah,


23, Florida, Asian, Tech, Independent

Being someone who’s able to confront things that other people aren’t able to confront.


Barrett,


39, Texas, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

Being brave is being willing to stand up for someone else.


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

I would include that you do what you do because you need to, you have to or you want to, regardless of those consequences.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

A show-of-hands question: Do you think American political leaders today are brave when it comes to making tough decisions? [Nobody raises a hand.]


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

Do I think some politicians are brave? Yes. But overall, as a unit, I don’t think politicians are very brave. I think they’re beholden to what or who they’re beholden to, regardless of what’s best for their constituents.


Tiffany,


30, Georgia, Black, Clothing Designer, Leans Democrat

I don’t think they’re brave. I just feel like there are a lot of things they should agree on that affect us no matter what. It’s like our life is just a game to them.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Is there an example of something, Tiffany, that you think they should be able to agree on that comes to mind?


Tiffany,


30, Georgia, Black, Clothing Designer, Leans Democrat

I mean, like, feeding kids in school for free. Why is that such a debate? I don’t think there should be a debate. We should feed our kids at school.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

David made the point that some political leaders can be brave. Is there anyone who agrees with that, and does any politician come to mind?


Susan,


64, New Jersey, White, Retired, Independent

There are some political leaders who can be brave, but they are penalized, punished, demeaned and disgraced by their cohorts. Bravery is moot. If you’re the only Republican and standing up for a Democratic proposal, you’re sanctioned. Liz Cheney is a perfect example. She tried to stand up for what was right even though it was counter to what her party line was. And she was sanctioned because of it. That line that we all are afraid to cross — doing what’s right regardless of the cost — stops a lot of people. But it also makes a lot of good people leave, which is another danger. If you want to affect change, you can’t do it if you walk away.


Angel,


25, Ohio, Asian, Engineer, Leans Republican

Cheney stood up for what she believed in. And she’s currently at a position where she has to face continued backlash from the politics environment. So I definitely think that she’s brave.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

That’s a good segue to our next question. I’m going to give a couple of examples of actions, and with a show of hands, tell me if you consider those actions to be brave or not: If an elected leader holds a different point of view than most of the people in the state or district they represent, and they vote or act based on their principles rather than what the majority view is — even if they know that it might be unpopular — is that considered brave?


Is it brave if you vote or act in a way that
is based on your principles, even if it is
unpopular with the people you represent?


Is it brave if you vote or act in
a way that is based on your principles, even if it is unpopular
with the people you represent?


6 people raised their hands.



Barrett, 39, Texas, Leans Democrat



Aaliyah, 23, Florida, Independent



Tiffany, 30, Georgia, Leans Democrat



Angel, 25, Ohio, Leans Republican



David, 56, Massachusetts, Independent



Annie, 27, Illinois, Leans Democrat



Susan, 64, New Jersey, Independent



Jeremiah, 47, Arizona, Independent



Roger, 51, California, Leans Democrat



Barry, 57, California, Independent


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Annie, you did not put your hand up. Why?


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

I think there’s a difference between personal bravery and political bravery. For me, it’s not politically brave, because if it’s unpopular with your constituents, then that shouldn’t be something that you vote for.


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

If you stand for what you believe, even though the others in your group or the others in your party don’t, then I think that shows some bravery.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

I want to ask about this question that Annie raised: Shouldn’t somebody in elected office represent the will of their voters, even if it goes against their own principles? When should somebody represent the will of the people, even if it’s different than what they may personally believe?


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

Well, I’d probably say 70 percent of the time. We voted for that person for particular reasons. If it’s a whole district saying, hey, we want this, we need that, and if we’re telling you what to do and you’re doing something different, that’s a slap in the face.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Jeremiah, most Republicans in Wyoming support Donald Trump. But Liz Cheney voted to impeach Donald Trump. Based on what you said, I could see the argument being that Liz Cheney should have voted to support Trump. Do you think Liz Cheney was wrong on that vote?


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

Well, I did say 70 percent. There are some things that you have to take a stand on. And something national like that – I think she did the right thing. It was unpopular for her in her district and her state. But ultimately, for the country, I think it was a better thing. So sometimes you have to look at the masses instead of the few.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

In general, is it brave to criticize someone from your own party?


Susan,


64, New Jersey, White, Retired, Independent

Only if you have the documentation to back it up. To publicly criticize, condemn, make noise about someone just because you don’t like them or where they stand, without having the substantiation for your comments, is irresponsible. It’s dangerous, especially if you are considered to be a leader within your party.


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

I can go up to a person that’s my same level at my job or even a superior and say, hey, I disagreed with what you told the client today. And that’s not national news. I know that there are way bigger things at stake in terms of politics. But calling someone out on something – that shouldn’t be considered brave. That should just be considered human nature.


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

None of us are above criticism, whether it’s from our boss or our spouse or our children or our neighbors. So to point out a bad decision that a colleague made — I don’t think that’s bravery. I think it’s honesty.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

I want to see if any of you have any concrete examples from history, examples from the past where a leader did something brave.


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

I’d have to go back to Abraham, because that was the unpopular choice. That’s bravery in its purest form, in my opinion.


Barrett,


39, Texas, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

I’m going to do two: Moses and J.F.K.


Aaliyah,


23, Florida, Asian, Tech, Independent

The suffragette movement. They had a really massive, massive backlash against them when they were going for women to vote. And that was really brave because they could have — and they did several times — go up against violence and vitriol.


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

I would choose, as an example, Winston Churchill during World War II, wanting to get involved in the war when his country’s people didn’t want him to.


Tiffany,


30, Georgia, Black, Clothing Designer, Leans Democrat

During the civil rights era, the white people who put their life at risk to fight for our rights and things like that — they were brave for their time because they were also being killed for standing up for what was right.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Here’s another show-of-hands question: Do you think leaders these days are generally braver than leaders in the past? If you agree with that, please raise your hand. [One person raises a hand.]


Roger,


51, California, Black, Real Estate Broker, Leans Democrat

I think leaders of the past did not have to be as brave because having your own opinion was welcomed and different opinions were welcomed. I think it takes some level of bravery to get involved in the political realm today at all, because we are so split, because we are so venomous about opinions we don’t like.


Barry,


57, California, White, Retired, Independent

In the 1800s and early 1900s, they were more out for their constituents. And today, it doesn’t seem like that. They’re more out for themselves than they are for the people.


Susan,


64, New Jersey, White, Retired, Independent

Well, yes and no. Politicians today — their accomplishments are much less tangible than they were in the past. In the past, it was railroads. It was going to the moon. It was creating new and better things to improve the life of their constituents. In today’s world, most of our life improvements do not come from our political leaders. They come from technology. So political leaders don’t really have much skin in the game. And everything they do is real-time. Everything they don’t do is real-time, whether it’s a mistake, whether it’s a benefit. Because of our society today, everything is out there. And they have no place to hide.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

I want to talk a little bit more about the present day. Earlier on, I asked you to give me the name of somebody you thought was a good leader. I’ll ask a similar question: Who’s somebody you associate with being brave?


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

I love the way Katie Porter stands up to big business and to private medicine.


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

I’d say Alex Hunt, who actually just ran for Congress in Pennsylvania. And she’s a former sex worker. And she actually highlighted that as part of her campaign and really just highlighted how there’s a lot of intersectional issues that she experienced as a former sex worker. She didn’t win the primary, unfortunately. But I just really appreciate her candor and her compassion.


Angel,


25, Ohio, Asian, Engineer, Leans Republican

I was going to say Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I think she really stands up for women’s rights, especially when it comes to abortion and things like that. She’s for women’s empowerment.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

I want to spend the next part going through some concrete examples of things that have happened and hear your take on whether you think that these actions were brave. Patrick, I’ll turn it over to you for the first example.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

In mid-March, a Russian news editor named Marina Ovsyannikova went on live Russian television with a sign that said: “No war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here.” This was about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In your view, is something like this brave?


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

That’s super brave. Let’s be real. Over there, if you go against the government, they’ll kill you. She knows all that. And she still did it. She put her life at risk, her family’s lives at risk, and everyone she’s associated with. But she ultimately did the thing that she thought was best.


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

I agree 100 percent. The other thing is that there’s no “Well, this will get me an endorsement deal with whoever.” That’s not going to happen. If anything, she’s just being sent to the gulag right now.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Let me ask one follow-up. Marina was arrested and fined by Russian authorities and gained international attention from that. A few weeks later, she was hired by a German media outlet and left Russia. Does that change your view?


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

No. I think she’s extremely brave for the reasons that other folks have enumerated. The fact that she was able to parlay that into a job with a German television station or news organization — good for her because she’s clearly somebody that stands up for what she believes.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Another example from the Russia-Ukraine conflict — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife have remained in Ukraine during the Russian invasion. Based on what you’ve seen, read or heard, would you consider Zelenskyy and his wife to be brave?


Barry,


57, California, White, Retired, Independent

Yeah, definitely. He’s letting the people of Ukraine know that he stands behind them.


Angel,


25, Ohio, Asian, Engineer, Leans Republican

I’m sure the people of Ukraine are very proud to have a president who’s staying with them and not jumping ship. What he did for his family was not the best. But what he did for his country shows great leadership.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Is anyone concerned that American support and admiration for Zelensky is too broad or too uncritical — that Americans are so impressed with his bravery that we might support him and Ukraine too unconditionally?


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

It feels really similar to Andrew Cuomo at the beginning of the pandemic, where everyone was calling him Daddy and making all of these memes about Daddy Cuomo. Daddy Zelensky is here to save us. I think that part is a little problematic, as was proved with the Andrew Cuomo scandal that came out. But then there’s the actual leadership skills that Americans really admire because I don’t feel like we expect the same thing from our leaders. So I think the problematic piece is the memeification and the yassification of Zelensky.


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

I think the world kind of needed this kind of example. And I really ultimately hope that our leaders are influenced by his bravery.


When you think about President
Biden’s decision to withdraw from
Afghanistan, was that brave? Show of
hands if you think of that as brave.


When you think about
President Biden’s decision to
withdraw from Afghanistan,
was that brave? Show of hands
if you think of that as brave.


6 people raised their hands.



Barrett, 39, Texas, Leans Democrat



Aaliyah, 23, Florida, Independent



Tiffany, 30, Georgia, Leans Democrat



Angel, 25, Ohio, Leans Republican



David, 56, Massachusetts, Independent



Annie, 27, Illinois, Leans Democrat



Susan, 64, New Jersey, Independent



Jeremiah, 47, Arizona, Independent



Roger, 51, California, Leans Democrat



Barry, 57, California, Independent


Aaliyah,


23, Florida, Asian, Tech, Independent

That was a brave decision for Biden to make.


Tiffany,


30, Georgia, Black, Clothing Designer, Leans Democrat

He wanted to keep a promise that he made during his campaign.


Susan,


64, New Jersey, White, Retired, Independent

There are a few of us here who are old enough to remember the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam and the similar way that it played out in Afghanistan. But it was something that needed to be done. It was not popular, but it was very courageous.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

On Jan. 6, 2021, Congress met to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Protesters breached the Capitol, seeking to disrupt the certification process. Some protesters were seeking out Vice President Mike Pence, whose constitutional role was to certify the election results. While the Secret Service got Pence to a secure location under the Capitol, Pence insisted on staying there so that the process could eventually resume. Later that day, Pence certified the Electoral College results, even though many other Republicans objected to certifying the results. Do you consider Vice President Pence’s actions on Jan. 6 to have been brave?


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

Definitely brave. He’s not only standing up against literal aggressors invading the Capitol. He’s also standing up for the will of the majority of the American population that voted for Biden for president. And so that’s going against what the aggressors were doing.


Aaliyah,


23, Florida, Asian, Tech, Independent

I don’t think that there was any way that they were actually going to get down to him and hurt him. So I don’t particularly see it as a super brave thing to do, because he just played the role that he was supposed to.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Since the actions of Jan. 6, 2021, Vice President Pence has not changed his position. He has maintained that his decision to certify the election results was the right one. But he has some critics, including former President Trump, who say that the brave thing to do would have been to not certify the election results. A show of hands — is there anyone who thinks that actually, certifying the results may have been a show of weakness rather than strength? [One person raises a hand.]


Aaliyah,


23, Florida, Asian, Tech, Independent

There were a few things about the results that were a little bit fishy. I think that it would have been a brave thing to do to delay that process.


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

I think that he was more of a patriot to continue the process that everyone else has followed before him, regardless of the circumstances.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

During the summer of 2020, after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, city leaders there came under pressure to abolish or defund the police. The Minneapolis mayor, Jacob Frey, went to a protest and told the protesters that he did not support abolishing the police. And he walked away amid being booed. Was it brave of Mayor Frey to go to a protest and say he opposed defunding the police?


Susan,


64, New Jersey, White, Retired, Independent

I think it was incredibly brave. He could have stood on the steps of City Hall and made a public announcement. But he didn’t. He chose to go down to the people to let them know that he meant business. I think that he said what a lot of people were afraid to say.


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

I didn’t find it particularly brave at all. I found it more stupid than brave. I mean, I don’t think he’s really going out on a limb to say we support the police. He went out to, what, antagonize the protesters?


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Pete Buttigieg, now our secretary of transportation — became the first openly gay major candidate for a party’s presidential nomination. He and his husband, Chasten, were affectionate with each other on the campaign trail. Was it brave of Pete Buttigieg to be open about his sexuality, his marriage and his affection for his husband as a candidate running for president?


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

Unfortunately, I think it’s incredibly brave that he did that. His sexuality shouldn’t enter into whether he’s capable of leading the country or being elected to public office. I think there’s enough backlash in this country towards marginalized people, of which he would fall into that group.


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

I struggle with this a bit because he’s sort of the safest type of member of the L.G.B.T. community. He’s white. He’s very well educated. He had all of the right credentials — all of the things that you would expect from an upper-middle-class white man who happens to be gay. As a gay person myself, I fall on that track as well. I’m a white, upper-middle-class woman with a really good job. And I’m in a monogamous relationship. And it’s very hetero-passing, except that we’re both women. And it’s the same thing for Pete, right? But I still think it was really brave to go all over the United States, regardless of the political leanings of those places, and just be himself.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

Joe Manchin is considered a centrist Democrat. Democrats need Senator Manchin’s vote in most cases to pass legislation, but he’s opposed many policies that have been supported by President Biden and by other Democratic leaders when they’ve come up in the Senate. Does Senator Manchin count as brave for bucking his party leadership?


How many of you think
Joe Manchin bucking his party
leadership is brave?


How many of you think
Joe Manchin bucking his party
leadership is brave?


3 people raised their hands.



Barrett, 39, Texas, Leans Democrat



Aaliyah, 23, Florida, Independent



Tiffany, 30, Georgia, Leans Democrat



Angel, 25, Ohio, Leans Republican



David, 56, Massachusetts, Independent



Annie, 27, Illinois, Leans Democrat



Susan, 64, New Jersey, Independent



Jeremiah, 47, Arizona, Independent



Roger, 51, California, Leans Democrat



Barry, 57, California, Independent


Tiffany,


30, Georgia, Black, Clothing Designer, Leans Democrat

I mean, one of the things he opposed was the child tax credit. That affected me. I wanted it. He didn’t agree with it. And he could have easily said yes. It could have passed. But he stood his ground that he didn’t believe in it. And I can’t do anything but respect that.


Roger,


51, California, Black, Real Estate Broker, Leans Democrat

Him bucking the general consensus of the party — generally speaking, I don’t necessarily say that it’s brave. If he’s following the will of his constituents, then there’s nothing brave about it. But if he is bucking what I consider to be his job responsibility for something that he feels is greater than that job responsibility, whether I agree with him or not, I would say that took some level of bravery or courage to get that done.


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the country. I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. He has bucked against things that could have helped a lot of people in his state. And do I think that’s brave? No. I think it’s irresponsible.


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

Yeah, so my take on this is a little bit different. I think it’s really brave of Joe Manchin to try to sway traditional conservative voters to contribute to his campaign through these things – to say, well, the Democratic lobby isn’t going to side with me, so I’m going to start courting the conservative ones over here who might not be on the Trump end of the spectrum, but they’re definitely more centrist. I think that in today’s political climate, that’s pretty brave.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

What about the other side of the coin, where some people do not vote with their party leaders, not because they are centrists like Manchin, but because they are further to the left or the right than the establishment leaders of their party. Republicans like Matt Gaetz and Louie Gohmert. On the Democratic side, folks like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. Is that brave — to stand up against your party leadership because you think they’re not taking bold enough action?


Angel,


25, Ohio, Asian, Engineer, Leans Republican

I think it definitely is important to go against the party leadership and establishment. You should stand up for what you believe in, even though everyone else has a different opinion.


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a little slippery there. I do think it’s brave, but I don’t know that it’s wise at the same time. So standing up for something because we’re not doing enough — should we do nothing because we’re not doing enough? And I love the radicalism to a certain extent but not to the point where we can’t get things done because, well, this isn’t radical enough.


Moderator, Kristen Soltis Anderson

It’s time to wrap up. Briefly, what would have to change for us to elect more brave people to office? And if more people in office were brave, how would our country be different?


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

I think in order for us to have more brave people in politics, we need to be more flexible than our party system and allow for different viewpoints and have electoral bases that support them.


Barry,


57, California, White, Retired, Independent

I think we need more honesty and more accountability for the politicians that are in there.


David,


56, Massachusetts, White, Adminstrative Support, Independent

I think we need campaign finance reform. And I think we need it in a big way.


Jeremiah,


47, Arizona, Black, Truck Driver, Independent

I think we need more diversity. And when I say diversity, I don’t mean race, creed or color. I mean economic diversity. I think we need more common folk in these positions. That’s going to bring a better viewpoint from the people. The people that you see walking down the street every day, the people that work at 7-Eleven, the people that collect our trash — we need people like that in office to potentially create the environment that we need.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

If more people in office were brave, do you think the country would be different?


Annie,


27, Illinois, White, Consultant, Leans Democrat

I think that in our current political system, no. I think if someone is really brave in our current structure and climate, it’s yelling at the void. There is not going to be any systemic change that comes from it.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

Roger?


Roger,


51, California, Black, Real Estate Broker, Leans Democrat

If we pluck brave people and put them in office today with our current populace as it is, would that make a difference? No. But if we look back at the question you asked before about how it would transpire and what it would look like, if we had the voting populace that supported brave politicians and that meant brave politicians in office, then that populace would make the country different. The politicians wouldn’t make the country different.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

So, Roger, is it more about us, then, than about the politicians?


Roger,


51, California, Black, Real Estate Broker, Leans Democrat

One hundred thousand million percent about us and not about them.


Moderator, Patrick Healy

How so? Say a little more about that.


Roger,


51, California, Black, Real Estate Broker, Leans Democrat

Everything that goes on in this world — in this country, let’s keep it that low — is a reflection on us, even the way our politicians act, how they vote, campaign finance, the whole nine. I bet that you could go to every political race in the country and there is a person of high integrity that is running for that office. And that person never wins. We vote for the prom queen or the prom king or the most popular or the most pretty or whatever it is. But that’s not necessarily the best leader. That’s not necessarily the guy that’s going to get the job done the way we want it done. We vote for the pretty person, and then that pretty person does a bad job.




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