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Good as Gold

By Kim Knox

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
— Anonymous
Make new friends, but keep the old,
One is silver and the other is gold.
— Girl Scout song

My Thanksgiving dinner was filled with talk of local politics.

A group of ten friends joined me for turkey and potluck. Fueled with good wine and good cheer, we talked late into the night about our plans for 2005.

Some wanted to work on housing issues. Other wanted to work on finance and bond reform. Others were interested in working on educational issues.

We then drifted to a discussion of whom we could count as our allies and how we can network with those friends.

But sometimes our allies decide on a different path. Or they disagree with us and choose to work on the other side of an issue.

And sometimes our perceived enemies work next to us for an issue that unites us. And we get the opportunity to learn from them and create a new bridge and a new partnership.

In Donna Brazile’s book “Cooking with Grease,” she tells story after story of how she would work on someone’s campaign to defeat a frontrunner. And then when her candidate dropped out or another election came along, she would work for the former enemy and find out that they weren’t so bad, after all.

Donna Brazile worked as a field coordinator for Jesse Jackson’s presidential run in 1988. When Jackson dropped out, she switched to Dukakis’s campaign. Jackson felt betrayed — since he perceived Dukakis as the enemy. And only a month prior to the November 1988 election did he truly forgive Brazile (and Dukakis).

Then in 1992, she worked with Jackson again on getting Clinton elected. From there, she worked with Jackson’s colleague Eleanor Holmes Norton to win her race as Washington D.C.’s representative in Congress.

Brazile eventually became Gore’s campaign manager for his 2000 presidential run. She was not only the first woman to run a presidential campaign. But she was also the first African American to run a major presidential campaign.

Her book reminded me that the majority of people who are involved in politics are there to make a difference in their community. People who work on campaigns are actively trying to make their community a better place.

Politics doesn’t create perfect solutions. There are not any perfect laws. Even the most balanced ordinance will negatively impact someone. Every tax bill negatively impacts the taxed — even if it is helping educate our future leaders, build houses for the homeless, and create jobs for the unemployed.

But you can’t let the perfect be an enemy of the good. You can only try to make sure that the negative impact is minimal and that in the end, the intended goal of the ordinance actually helps the community that it is targeted to help.

And you have to keep trying to make a difference. Even when there isn’t a perfect solution. Because there never is a perfect solution in politics.