Marcia Fudge’s appointment to a Cabinet post opened opportunity for a fresh voice in a Democratic-controlled congressional district, and voices lined up straight like soldiers in Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” for a chance to replace her.
Two Democrats stood out: Shontel Brown and Nina Turner.
Voters from the 11th Congressional District decide this week who is the most capable of our choices. I made my decision Monday morning: Brown.
Not that I disliked Turner. In terms of policies, hers are more in sync with mine than Brown’s are. I’m a progressive (or liberal); Turner is too.
Now, that doesn’t mean Brown is a conservative. She’s not. Her policies align best with President Joe Biden, the presidential candidate whom Turner riled against. Her opposition to Biden is what steered me toward Brown.
For I found it impossible to ignore the intemperate words Turner, an unwavering Bernie loyalist, used to damn Biden in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016. I understood Turner’s opposition to Clinton. I didn’t, however, understand her opposition to Biden, who surely waged a campaign that fit our times.
Talking about Biden, Turner told The Atlantic: “It’s like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.’ It’s still shit.’ ”
The rhetoric of politics can be tone-deaf, but Turner offered her assessment of Biden after Democrats made known he, not Bernie Sanders, would represent the party in a fight to limit Donald Trump to one term.
I would be making up news if I wrote Turner never came around on Biden. She did. Yet did she do an about-face for political expediency or did she embrace Biden’s moderate platform? If Turner hoped to have a future in Democratic politics, she couldn’t sit out the election simply because Biden wasn’t as left-leaning as her.
Democrats can ill-afford to let The Squad drive policy — not in a political climate as contentious, as divisive as it’s ever been. They don’t need Turner to join Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & Co. and turn her quartet into a quintet. Too many bedrock issues confront Democrats without dragging the party too far afield from the center.
Timing is everything in politics and in life. Trump proved that point better than other politicians in my lifetime, more than even Barack Obama did. Obama realized early in his presidency that he couldn’t govern effectively from the left while his party trudged along from the center.
Turner seemed to have forgotten that fact or ignored these troubling times altogether.
I find no reason to high-five timidity in leaders. I encourage those with audacity to dream bigger dreams. Nonetheless, I don’t want dreamers to lead me and guide my politics — not when voting rights, social justice, climate control, beefed-up Obamacare and a collapsing infrastructure confront politicians on the left and right.
While compromise might not get us to where we need to be, inflexibility will not get us there either.
That’s the problem with Nina Turner, and yet to see Brown as overly pliable would be to misread her politics. She’s a hardheaded realist. I welcome politicians like Brown right now more than I do those who push too hard for what is, considering the congressional landscape, not possible to achieve.