American politics heading into the 2020 presidential election is a ruthless, cut-throat sport that exhorts the “take ’em all down no matter what you have to do to get it done” philosophy. Capture the prize by whatever means become necessary. Lie, fabricate, extort, blackmail, railroad, defame, degrade, marginalize, ridicule, slander, frame. It doesn’t much matter. Go as far as you need to go. Take ’em into the sewers if you have to. But don’t leave them standing. NEVER leave them standing. Then, when you’ve done your work, smile the serene smirk of innocence and say, “No, not me. I would never engage in that sort of behavior” while wearing your ‘I’ve been to a house of worship’ vestments and smelling of smug.
I know how the game is played. I have been under no illusions that Pete would remain immune to politics’ tradition of foul play as he rose in the polls. But for a moment, look at it this way:
Pete is warming up on the pitcher’s mound for the Blue team. As he warms up, the opposing team — the Red team — watches him closely and realizes that they will be unable to hit anything he throws. Each pitch is too formidable — too well-considered—in delivery, in speed, and in nearly perfect placement. The assembling crowd of spectators is astounded as they watch him. This man has to have worked hard to be this good.
But Pete’s fellow teammates are now increasingly begrudging him the growing glory he has earned. During practice recently, they’ve attempted to hollow out his bat, grease the grip, loosen his shoe ties, and rig the protective helmet he wears. They hope that if he trips and falls or is somehow felled by a close-in pitch and forced out of the game, the glory will be theirs in more opportunities to show off their own game skills.
Indeed, I am speaking of the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party that is now attempting to sabotage Pete’s candidacy. They hope to mortally wound it by starting a crowd-chant about his “questionable” handling of race relations in his hometown where he is Mayor. But as more and more persons of color in South Bend laud Pete’s deep and compassionate understanding of the issue — and the thoughtful steps he has taken to address it as Mayor — few are humming that tune now. “He is what I call ‘boots on the ground’, touching his community, giving an ear,” said Michael Patton, President of South Bend’s NAACP. “He walks in love, and he displays that love as he comes into different areas of the community.”
They are also alleging that Pete might be using a corked bat — hiding nefarious secrets about some work he may have done while at the consulting firm, McKinsey. They hoped to find some seamy, perhaps even corrupt corporate clients embedded in that cork that they could examine, extract and parade before the waiting cameras. But Pete cracked open his own bat for the crowd to see. Not a cork crumb to be found — because before McKinsey excused him from his non-disclosure agreement on December 9, 2019, Pete opened up and talked about his work at McKinsey. In his essay, Pete asked McKinsey to allow him to name the clients he served. McKinsey cited the “unique circumstances presented by a presidential campaign” in releasing Pete from his agreement. So nope, that dog is not going to hunt here either.
They also want him pulled back to the bench because they say he’s tailored his throws only to please the major league suits upstairs. They point to the policy platforms he’s pitched — proclaiming that they look good in the wind-up, but the pitches are actually being called by corporate catchers behind the plate. How unfortunate it is that they do not really know Pete at all — because if they did, they would know that Pete would never throw a pitch that couldn’t pass through his “Is this right, ethical, constructive and productive?” filter. He also considers that which is in the best interest of entire team’s goals and if his pitching plans are ideally aligned with the honorable imperatives of the game itself.
Pete is a principled candidate (rare, rare, rare) whose skills, instincts, temperament, honesty and benevolence make him the team’s top player and the perfect team captain. In the latter role, he will provide the example the world needs of a courageous leader who lives a morally inspired life — everyday of his life.
So Blue team, take note: Play with integrity. Play with heart. Play so your dignity survives the journey. That’s really the only way to play ball — and #WinTheEra. #BeLikePete