Politicians need to adapt to the new reality | Rich Elfers’ Politics in Focus

Politics deals with what is, not what we would like humans and society to be. That’s one of the major things that I miss about being on the Enumclaw City Council.

Politics deals with what is, not what we would like humans and society to be. That’s one of the major things that I miss about being on the Enumclaw City Council.

There were times when people spoke outright lies to the council. At other times they were so brutally honest in their self-interest and self-delusion that I almost gasped with surprise.

Politics at all levels — local state, and national — brings out the best and worst in people. To properly cope with politics we need to deal with what actually is, rather than what we dream it should be.

I see that attitude in some of my conservative friends. One of them recently noted that he wished that the values of white European males still prevailed. The reality now is that Latino culture and African-American culture and liberated women and young people have a greater voice to re-elect a black president over the money, influence and power of wealthy, old, white men who have ruled this country for all of its history.

That is also part of the problem with the liberal leadership of the Democratic Party. Both Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are in their 70s and a new generation of voters does not exactly agree with their point of view. The danger Democrats now face is the sin of hubris, of pride, in thinking that because they won, their views are totally right.

The last two presidential elections have driven home the reality of a new dynamic and demographic. It has also driven home the fact that technology has drastically changed how votes are gained and money is raised.

That’s the new reality. Wishing that it would go to back to the way it was will not make it so. The political party that grasps that fact and ends its denial sooner will be able to be more effective in electing their preferences into places of power.

At this point the Democrats are a whole lot closer to reality than the Republicans. Back in the 1980s it was the Reagan Republicans who were ascendant. It took three presidential election losses for the Democrats to face reality and find the moderate Bill Clinton who emphasized “The Third Way” in politics. The Third Way was moderation. Those are the people who win elections in America. It’s not the ultraliberals or the ultraconservatives.

America is a center-right nation and the party that plays to that group will be ascendant. Pride and arrogance defeated the Republicans in 2012. Hopefully, being badly humbled by this election will force the Republicans to face reality and give up living in the past.

The reality is that this nation needs the Republican Party to provide a counterpoint to the Democrats. Both parties have valuable perspectives that are important to hear. Wisdom comes from listening to people who don’t agree with you and gleaning understanding of the point of view of others.

I miss not being on the Enumclaw City Council and being forced to see human nature exhibited authentically. All of us have to be occasionally jarred out of the belief that our views are always the right ones. Defeat is sometimes the elixir of growth and change. It forces us to reflect on our actions and to be able to move in another direction.

Hopefully the Republican Party is capable of reflection. We need the Republican perspective to keep and make America a balanced and growing nation. Change is reality, and the reality is that either we change or we die.


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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
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