Saturday, July 21, 2012

It's good to have friends

Yesterday at work, I was a sweaty mess, climbing the stairs to my office when I ran into my CEO.
"Hey," he said. "Your friend John Gregg says to tell you, 'hi.' Said he's a friend of yours."
I smiled. Bill and I do not share a political tent, but we have a lot in common and he is actually one of my favorite Republicans. We've had a few discussions about the upcoming gubernatorial race. We each worked with governors (opposite parties of course) and we have some interest in the race.
"John is my friend," I admitted, happy that he'd taken time to let the opposition know of our connection.
And I've been thinking about John Gregg ever since. I've been on a political sabbatical for a while and while I'm happy to share my opinion on, OK, on any subject that comes along, I've been publicly quiet lately when it comes to politics.
But I do like John. He is my friend even though we have different viewpoints on some things that are very important to me. For example:
I wish he supported gay rights as strongly and comprehensively as I do. I wish we agreed on reproductive rights. I wish he agreed with me that the 2nd amendment didn't foresee the invention of assault weapons that would be used by civilians to settle scores and that maybe, just maybe, a little work to control the wackjobs is in order.
But he's a good man. An honest man. And I give him credit for not pretending to be an advocate for the rights I want but which he disagrees with just to get my vote. And I like it that he doesn't assume he has my vote just because we grew up in the same general neighborhood, have shared a few laughs over the years and have a D attached to our political psyches.
He and I had a conversation a while ago about reproductive rights. He knows my position and he could have taken the opportunity to soft-sell me or try to weasel around it.
He didn't. And a couple months later, I ran into him at an annual Planned Parenthood event. Did his appearance mean he was pandering to my ilk? Nope. To me, it meant he was willing to be seen with a crowd he's not in lockstep with and that he just might listen instead of acting blindly.
John cares about Indiana. He cares about helping people when they need it. He was always, always nice to my father. He understand the political process in its reality and can work effectively within it. He's way smarter than he wants you to know. And he's hilarious.
Personally, I want a governor who can sit down with anyone and have a good time. He isn't really just a good ol' boy from Sandborn anymore but he he isn't so far removed from it that he has forgotten what rural Indiana needs. He's seen enough of the other side of the state to know what the urban areas need, as well.
A hundred years ago I was working in state government and at a meeting with a bunch of high-ranking, well-respected, smart and tough leaders. We were focused on doing great things, of course, and somehow at some point someone invoked the name of the currently sitting president of the United States, George Bush. Something was said about Mr. Bush being our president.
"He's not my president. My president is Jeb Bartlett," muttered one my colleagues.
We all laughed ruefully because who wouldn't want a fictional character who leant our way and could solve national crises in 60 minutes once a week? Jeb Bartlett was great fiction. But he was fiction. No candidate is all things to every voter. Nor should he or she be. Anyone who believe a candidate can fix all the ills of the country as soon as he -- hopefully she one day -- steps into office is just fooling themselves.
The best we can hope for is an honest person who wants to do what's best for everyone as often as he or she can. And who will actually work hard to do more good than bad.
John and I disagree on some points. Important points. But he's for Indiana through and through and he's my friend. So he can't be all bad.... :)

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