In the middle of a must-read article by Ryan Grim and Arthur Delaney on Huffington Post, Rep. Tom Perriello has what I believe is a fundamentally true quote about the American people and politics:
“Part of the problem is that we often take this “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” approach that assumes that people are reactionary and stupid and that we just need to convince them that they’re going to make more money under our plan,” says Perriello. “But the fact is people are good, decent, smart people and we should treat them that way. … People don’t have to agree with you on every issue but they do have to believe that you are genuinely doing what you believe is right.”
This has absolutely been my experience working in politics. I’ve had the privilege to travel all over America while working on campaigns and at the end of it all, I have seen that Americans everywhere are pretty similar. They care about their families, their children’s education, their job security and planning for retirement. They want to succeed and they want to be good to their neighbors, improving their communities. It doesn’t matter where I have been, I have had the same experience: Alaska, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Florida, Connecticut, or Michigan. We are one people, smart and seeking to be engaged genuinely by political candidates and elected officials.
Tom Perriello seems to get this. Good for him.
Perriello also sounds a lot like one of my heroes, Paul Wellstone, who used the same good faith and authentic attitude towards his constituents to repeatedly win elections he was never supposed to win.