Dem 51
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This Week in Freudenfreude: That Is Vote Enough

There is a pretty famous story about Andrew Jackson from during his presidency. A man once visited the Executive Mansion to implore the President to keep his local postmaster on the federal payroll because he (the postmaster) had lost his leg on the field of battle, and the postmastership was the only job he could do and still support his family. The fellow making the pitch had to admit, however, that the postmaster had voted for Jackson's opponent in the presidential election. "If he lost a leg fighting for his country," observed Jackson, "that is vote enough for me," and the man kept his job.

There is much to criticize about Old Hickory, of course. We recount this story because it shows that even one of the most famous users of patronage in U.S. history recognized that sometimes qualifications for a job are more important than party loyalty. That is something that too many politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are prone to forget today.

One clear exception to that rule, however, is Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK), who has now won two statewide elections in usually red Alaska. She has already made a habit of reaching across the aisle when choosing staffers, and this week, she took that to a new level, hiring Josh Revak to be her state political director. Why is that noteworthy? Revak is not only a Republican, he's one of the people who ran against Peltola in the election for Alaska's U.S. House seat. In a statement, the Representative explained: "Since I won the election with support from Alaskans on both sides of the aisle, I've been building a team ready to tackle the issues that unite us."

We recognize, of course, that there is some level of political calculation in hiring across the aisle when you're a member of the minority party, and you're hoping to keep your job. That said, there are no other members of the House, even those from swingy states/districts, who make such a point of including people from both parties as part of their team. That's a nice counterpoint to all the partisan nastiness in Washington these days (see, for example, the first item above).

Meanwhile, Peltola has certainly been very impressive since she moved onto the national stage last year. She may have a promising future; a U.S. Senate seat seems very plausible, and maybe even something higher than that. Also, reader S.C. in Mountain View has reminded us that one upside of ranked-choice voting is that it discourages mudslinging and personal attacks during the campaign. If a sitting member and her former opponent can come together like Peltola and Revak have, then it would seem that the system is working as designed.

Have a good weekend, all! (Z)

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