Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo have fundamental flaws as leaders.
They have no empathy or concern for those who disagree with them.
As is unavoidable in elective office, each of these men has constituents who don’t support them. For Barack Obama, it is the 47 percent of Americans who didn’t vote for him. For Andrew Cuomo, it is gun owners and conservative Catholics.
This is not unusual. As a function of human nature, it is unavoidable.
And any number of elected leaders have come to grips with it. They have learned how to represent and show respect for constituents on the other side of an issue. It is a characteristic of leadership, a sign of good character and good spirit.
Not to back down or sell out, but to stay on good terms with people, even in disagreement.
That ability avoids alienation and desperation, and the supposed “polarization” of today’s politics. When that ability is lacking, as it is with Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo, great personal animus builds up – both ways – and discontent builds.
In a republic with an elected executive, there will never be unanimity. That means there will always be a losing side in an election and, consequently, a losing portion of society. In a republic with an elected executive, that executive – a mayor, governor or president – has a responsibility to govern for all, not practice an exclusion of or scorn for the philosophy he defeated or the voters he could not win over.
Neither Barack Obama nor Andrew Cuomo grasp that.
Both Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo feel and express a palpable contempt for those who disagree with them. Opponents are described as extremists, contrary views are dismissed, a general air of arrogance and condescension defines them.
This is a function of pride, immaturity and insecurity.
And possibly megalomania.
But whatever the source, it is a personal failing and a sad inadequacy for a leader.
It is also completely unnecessary.
Here are two examples of liberal Democrats, like Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo, who developed very positive relations with contrary constituents.
One was Hillary Clinton.
Elected to the Senate on the strength of liberal Democrat voters in New York City, she spent her time in office faithfully trying to learn the interests and earn the respect of upstate voters who didn’t vote for her and probably never would.
The best example of this was her unfailing support of agriculture. Completely alien to her background and interests, Hillary Clinton studied the issues of upstate farming, listened to every farmer she could and pushed hard to represent the needs of New York agriculture.
To this day she is spoken of very fondly by upstaters involved in the agricultural industry. She showed them by her presence and effort that she cared about them and would back them up.
They didn’t vote for her, they won’t vote for her, they don’t agree with her personal philosophy or belong to her political party. But they knew she cared about them and would work for them.
And they respected her.
Another example is Kathy Hochul.
A short-term Democrat congresswoman, she represented one of the most Republican districts in the northeast. From urban Erie County, she fanned out across her rural district and made friends.
Mostly she did this by her personality. She was just a nice person. Comfortable with people, not afraid to go up and shake their hand and hear their story, she was wonderfully personable.
She had a pretty liberal voting record.
She was a sure vote for Barack Obama.
But even in disagreement, there was friendship and mutual high regard.
And though she was defeated for re-election – further proof of the difference in philosophy – there was not disagreement, distance or dislike.
Most constituents, even those who voted against her, would probably still consider her a friend.
It’s too bad Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo don’t have that.
It’s too bad they don’t care enough to develop that.
Hillary Clinton and Kathy Hochul established friendship and respect across the divide of disagreement because they chose to. Because their sense of what was right and what was expected prompted them to do it.
The same thing is true of politicians of both parties all across our Republic.
But it’s not true of Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo.
And that’s dangerous.
They push people out of the center of society and into the volatility of alienation.
Their arrogance and superiority leave large portions of society disaffected and unrepresented.
And that is unnecessary.