While waiting for a flight this morning, Fred and I were talking about our Pete.
“You know,” he said. “Pete is not acting at all like a politician. I think that’s because that’s not really who he is.”
“OK,” I said. “I’ll bite. Then who is he?”
“He’s an intellectual. More than that, he’s a professor…a humble professor…who explains his positions, policies and plans like a top-notch teacher would in an adult education class,” Fred began. “It’s kind of ‘here’s what the issue is, here’s the history behind how this became an issue, here is a strategy for addressing the issue, and here’s how I believe we’re going to get this done.’ And he always puts the emphasis on ‘we’. I like that. Plus, he’s not saying that he or his plans, for example, are better than candidate B’s plans or candidate W’s plans. That’s more of what a politician would say. But he’s advocating for his plans, and allowing his well-thought out ideas —conceived with the input of other voices — to step into the spotlight and be judged on their own merits.”
Now, Fred and I certainly don’t agree on everything when it comes to politics, but when I looked at him and said, “Wow. You are 100% right,” the look of utter shock on his face made me want to check his pulse.
“Wait. What?? you agree with me? 100%?” he asked.
I nodded. Fred hasn’t always been a Petenik. It took him some time — and just maybe a little nagging from me —to watch Pete for awhile. Then, about 2 months ago, after watching the second debate, he suddenly proclaimed, “Yep! Pete’s the guy.”
He was right — 1,000%.
What Fred had noticed about Pete played out in fine form during the CNN Climate Change Town Hall in early September. First, it was apparent that Pete had done all of his homework. He made the case for urgent action by articulating the myriad reasons why the planet is at a tipping point because of climate change beyond which, if not addressed, irreparable harm will be done to the planet. Then, during questioning from audience members and the moderator, he deftly wove into his responses his sweeping strategy for a multi-tiered plan that will not only repair and nourish the planet over time, but which will also impact the quality of healthcare, the economy, education and job opportunities. In the end, it was clear that Pete could teach an advanced course in climate change and its ripple effects. Afterwards, his students (us) would be armed with enough information to know that we should begin to roll our sleeves up and get to work.
Fred reminded me today that because Pete is a true intellectual, he welcomes other voices and thinkers to shape, mold and refine his policy proposals. His flexibility, his willingness to listen, and his lack of ego are reminiscent of the approach President John F. Kennedy took to lead the way on the issues facing the nation at the time.
And Fred said something else that really caught my attention. “You know Joyce,“ he said. “Donald Trump was elected because he was not a politician. And I now believe that we MUST elect Pete because he is a moral, humble, unifying intellectual non-politician.”
Since Fred shared his observations, I have been listening even more closely to Pete than I have before; trying to watch the professor at work. Every time I hear Pete speak, I come away knowing more than I did before about the subject he is addressing. He does the research, the analysis and the strategy. And then he communicates it in easily digestible bites. Gifted.
But I also take away something that is perhaps even more valuable: a desire to #BeLikePete; to share and teach — rather than scold, compare or belittle when I speak on issues considered controversial. It’s going to take some conscious doing, but I am committed to doing the work I have to do. Because for the first time in my life, a candidate for president has made me want to become a better person.
Thank you, Professor Pete. #20PETE20