Over in the lefthand sidebar, you will see a photo of Terry McAuliffe, who has set up an exploratory committee (clicking on the photo takes you to the committee's homepage) to investigate the feasibility and desirability of Terry running for Governor of Virginia. As a DC resident, I always take an interest in the state politics of Maryland and Virginia, because of the interdependence between the parts of Maryland and Virginia that, along with D.C., make up the metro area. Terry's site says he'll announce his decision about whether to run or not on January 7.
- I haven't the slightest idea of which way he is leaning.
- I know Terry, but just barely.
- I'm not entirely sure he would welcome my support. Terry is extraordinarily devoted to the idea of Democratic Party loyalty, and I chose to conscientiously abstain from voting at the top of the ticket this year as a protest against the DNC's conduct of the primary season and then, especially, its nominating convention.
So why a link to his "Conversation with Virginians" in the sidebar? Because I learned a great deal of great value from Terry McAuliffe in the course of Senator Clinton's campaign. If I could learn so much about people, politics, and money in my few interactions with Terry, I know I want him to lead a state that neighbors my non-state and impacts it tremendously.
From Terry I learned that you can have an over-the-top personality and put it to work for you - you won't win over everybody but you will be comfortable in your skin and have tremendous fun along the way.
I learned the crucial importance of having fun while engaging in political activity. Politics is tough with plenty of nastiness and maneuvering and operating going on - things I can't enjoy in the way that born politicians can. But politics is also about thinking about how to make the world a better place, which is fun. It is about connecting with people and learning about them, which is fun. It is about the intersection of ideas and action, a fun spot. Terry's indomitable enthusiasm never struck me as hokey or foolish. Rather it seemed like fuel to keep himself and others working hard for what they believed in.
I learned from Terry the importance of generosity of spirit. His public thank you's to his staff were a constant at the events I attended. His kind welcome of me and my ideas at sometimes rather stuffy campaign meetings made a welcome contrast to some of the more established or conventional folks who had little tolerance for newcomers or people who did not conform to their mores.
Terry taught me to be brave about asking people to contribute whatever they can to causes and candidates I honestly back.
And, yes, I learned from Terry lessons about loyalty and lessons about what makes the Democratic Party worth fighting for - even if he would not approve of my choice not to condone conduct I found unacceptable in a Party that has so often laid claim to a form of fairness that requires intense respect for the franchise. Terry's loyalty to Senator Clinton and President Clinton never wavered, not once, not at all.
Certainly, nobody worked harder to put a woman in the White House. Notably it became clear that in the course of chairing Senator Clinton's National Campaign Committee, Terry came to know and respect Senator Clinton better and differently than he ever had before. And he was willing to talk about that. He was never sappy about Senator Clinton. He just made it clear that he thought she was a good campaigner and candidate from the outset and a great one by the end of the season.
As an educator, I respect people who can educate others, particularly by motivating them to excel, to exceed their own expectations. That's the sort of person I found Terry McAuliffe to be. It is the sort of person I aspire to be and the sort of person we need if we are to fix the problems in our states (or in my case, non-state), cities, towns, and country as a whole; and to do something about what is wrong with the current incarnation of the Democratic Party.
You can easily find news stories about Terry or read his book or just go to his website to learn about what he has accomplished (and what he's tried to accomplish). This time out for Terry McAuliffe is not meant to substitute for that sort of information. It is meant to honor the things Terry taught me in 2008, a great many things all of great value.