French: Can Democratic leaders actually lead with hard truths?

One of the most consistent realities of the early Trump era in the Republican Party was the massive gap between elite knowledge of Donald Trump and voter perception of Trump. Party leaders saw him up close, knew of his scandals and deranged behavior and complained about him bitterly behind closed doors.

But then what happened? The same people not only deferred to voters who possessed a small fraction of their information; they actually contributed to public ignorance by defending Trump even from the most legitimate criticism. They made the problem worse and then complained bitterly about the predicament they helped create.

In other words, the leaders weren’t leaders at all.

I understand an elected Democrat’s desire to defend the party’s nominee until he’s not the nominee. I understand that every word uttered against President Joe Biden can be used by Trump if Biden stays in the race. But if you have real knowledge of Biden’s limitations and if you then sally forth into public to defend his competence in the face of known contrary facts, then you’ve become a version of what you hate. You’ve become a blue-hatted version of the red-hatted party loyalist.

Leadership can be a surprisingly tricky concept in a representative democracy. When you win your election, is your mission to do what your voters want? Or do you view the vote for you as essentially a vote of confidence in you as a person who can actually lead constituents rather than merely express their will?

The first model has essentially taken over the Republican Party. MAGA members of Congress enthusiastically share their voters’ love for Trump, but the remaining normie Republicans often rationalize a similar level of practical devotion to Trump (even while they still grumble behind closed doors) as simply yielding to their constituents’ demands.

The second model, however, demands more from its elected leaders. It demands a level of independent judgment commensurate with your superior access to information. If voters don’t like your judgment, they can certainly remove you in the next election.

The answers are simple to state but difficult for ambitious politicians to accept: You should speak with integrity about what you know to be true. Attempt to persuade constituents to conform their votes to that truth. And if you fail, so be it.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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