The Top Ten Good Men Politicians



“Good” is not the adjective that springs to mind when most people think about politicians. Unscrupulous, self-serving, incompetent, sure—but good? Not so much.

As our political landscape grows ever more polarized—and ordinary Americans feel increasingly alienated from the political process—the conventional wisdom seems to be that when it comes to elected officials, a good man is hard to find. As humorist Kin Hubbard once put it, “We’d all love to vote for the best man, but he’s never a candidate.”

At the Good Men Project Magazine, we want to believe that there are a few good men in politics. We need to believe it. So we spent the last few months looking for them.


We looked for men with integrity and intellectual honesty.

We looked for men who respect their political opponents, treat their constituents like the adults they are, and promote openness and transparency in government.

We looked for men with compelling ideas—and the ability and vision to turn those ideas into action. Do we endorse everything they stand for? No. But we can respect those we disagree with.

We looked for men who can see beyond the next election cycle and who have the political courage to lay the foundation for America’s future success—even if it means making unpopular decisions today.

We looked for men who are willing to work in good faith with those from across the aisle in order to get things done.

We looked for men who are not afraid to challenge their party’s leadership when that leadership is putting politics and partisan mudslinging above what’s best for the country.

Most importantly, we looked for men who aren’t completely full of shit.


Sadly, we didn’t find any. Just kidding. Believe it or not, there are actually more than 10 good men in politics. In list-making, as in politics, you can’t make everyone happy, so we had to exclude some worthy candidates from our Top 10 Good Politicians list. We also excluded many worthy women—we are the Good Men Project, after all.

While we don’t expect our list to restore your faith in America’s political system, we do hope to bring your attention to elected officials worth respecting for their integrity, their passion, and their ideas.

In addition to our list, we asked fifteen political thinkers, commentators, and journalists—including Cokie Roberts, David Brooks, Andrew Sullivan, John Podesta, Chris Wallace, Andrea Mitchell, Joan Walsh, Thomas Frank, and Jonathan Capehart—for their nomination of a “good man” in politics.

Disagree with them? Disagree with us? Or, better yet, agree with us? Let us know in the comments. Oh, and go vote on November 2.

The Top-10 Good Men Politicians

10) Mitch Daniels

9) Bernie Sanders

8 ) Mark Strama

7) Richard Lugar

6) Jeff Flake

5) Al Franken

4) Anh “Joseph” Cao

3) Cory Booker

2) Paul Ryan

1) Carl Levin


Click here for “good men” nominations from top political journalists and thinkers

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

About the Editors

We're all in this together.


  1. Maggie Thatcher is the only good politician I know of. The reason is that she is dead. Alive, she was a feminine version of Hitler only worse. Now she is were all politicians should be, in hell.
    They promise us a better world yet when they are elected they turn their backs on us and sell out to the ruling people with power. It will never change unless we start to fight for what is rite instead of just letting it happen and hope it will be better tomorrow.

  2. You left off the two Oregon Senators and the congressman from Seattle Jim McDermott.

  3. Look up quotes of Boris Johnson. He is better than all of these.

  4. Christine says:

    Why the HELL is Ron Paul not on this list? You ppl r crazy!! He should be at the TOP!!

  5. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap” is a trumped-up plan to facilitate further corporate take-over. When all is said and done, we can vote who gets put in power in the government. We can’t vote on CEOs. I would rather pay my taxes to the government with all its flaws (and even corporate influences) than give more power to big money.
    And what is with Flake? I am so glad to see someone speaking up about the earmarks, but I think his politicizing of the funding of scientific research mars that. Now we need someone more vocal in defense of honest science than Flake is against earmarks.
    My vote goes to Bernie Sanders. At least he is truly for the people.

  6. I actually got excited about his website, until I saw Paul Ryan on this list. This is a joke, isn’t it? Paul Ryan? this guy doesn’t have one ounce of integrity in his whole body. Paul Ryan is, excuse my language, the biggest corporate prostitute that has ever existed. He is a complete sold out. He gets his marching orders from the Koch brothers, and those orders are all about destroying the fabric of this great nation: the middle class. Guess what, no middle class = No Democracy. How can you put someone on this list who champions tyranny? You have lost all credibility. Bernie Sanders should definitely be at the top of the list. He is the only one out there who fights for true freedom, liberty and justice for all, not just for the greedy 1%.
    Also Mitch Daniel? are you high or something? but Paul Ryan beats them all in being the king of evil.

  7. Daniel Luechtefeld says:

    This list is baffling in its inconsistency.

    Part of being a good man is showing self-awareness, and the fortitude to live according to one’s convictions – regardless of personal difficulty. Paul Ryan fails this test.

    Ryan rose to his current position thanks to the welfare state; specifically Social Security, upon which he attended college.

    He advocates for the others an Ayn Rand-inspired level of self-sufficiency, the dismantling of this social safety net.

    IOTW: “I got mine – f*ck you”.

    This list is now painfully dated, with the revelation about Ryan’s taste in wine and drinking buddies.

  8. How you missed Ron Paul, the most consistent, principled and honest politician of his era, or arguably of any era is beyond me.

    Think what you will of his politics, but his candor, his respectful dialogue and his refusal to bend to the powers that be in the name of liberty are second to none.

  9. Interesting that the two single politicians who prohibit the initiation of force and fraud in their politics are absent from the list. From the time of Confucius, all societies have followed this “golden rule”, (outside of government), until their governments based on force and fraud have destroyed the society, usually by murdering millions of innocent civilians in conquest or democide. Jeff Flake, one of the better people on your list, supported protectionist legislation that put non-cartel dairy farmers out of business. All the other politicians are even worse than he is. Russ Feingold, for instance, pushed through “McCain-Feingold”, legislation that has eroded the right of election candidates to speak freely, levying fines against those who do not comply with arcane financial reporting rules, eliminating competition for the incumbent politicians. Everywhere you look in politics, force and fraud rule the day.

    Without recognizing that taxation is theft, this list is laughable. All politicians attempt to do good with others’ money. Without this recognition, the aims of all politicians are corrupt, because they depend on coercion.

    Ron and Rand Paul are the only two federal politicians in Washington who should be on this list. Mitch Daniels might be good, although I don’t know the details of his record.

    Tell me this, though, how many people here support the prohibitionism that has incarcerated 1.2 million innocent Americans? Jim Webb, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Ed Coleman, and maybe one or two others are the only ones who seem to care about the Bill of Rights enough to oppose the insane, immense evil of prohibition.

    Your list is simply not credible, and it never will be, without recognition that politics in America has grossly overstepped the Bill of Rights, and the principle of “consent of the governed” found in our Declaration of Independence. These two documents once held the ability of government coercion in check. No more. The American State’s ability to ignore the golden rule is now unlimited, the enlightenment values out country was founded on are gone.

  10. Ryan is about where he belongs though #1 would be a better ranking. I see a bunch of tantrum tossing towards Ryan for his stance on gay marriage. And most of it is phony outrage because the same people give Carl Levin a pass regarding his wishy washy stance on repealing DADT. more selective outrage from the professional leftists.

  11. Folks, turn that anger to solving the problem. Too many of our politicians should go home.

    How can we limit their terms of service to 2, but not more than 3 terms in office? This needs to be done for the good of this country.

    We support their behavior by letting them stay in office. They are not entitled to a government seat for life.

  12. 3 times this screen has changed and lost my words——I agree w/Willl 100% read The Powell Memo

  13. Robert Laity says:

    Carl Paladino is a “Good Man”

  14. senator bernie sanders is without question the best person in our government today. i wouldn’t feel that i’m overestimating at all in saying that 99% of those in congress are corporate controlled stooges, and bernie is most certainly not. i am also surprised to not see senator russ feingold, the only senator to not vote for the patriot act – in doing so being alone in standing up for our civil liberties – in 2002.

  15. Sherry Smith says:

    I think the list would make much more sense if you explained why you included these people on the list – each individually, not as a whole – then one cold see the reasoning in it. I would like to read your response, Senator Sanders. Thank-you.

  16. Sherry Smith says:

    Why not Dennis Kucinich? I am suprised, also.

  17. richard dybvig says:

    I love what you’re doing, and needless to say, as a Vermonter I like the Bernie choice. For future consideration, take a look at our current governor, Jim Douglas, who despite being a Republican – is a good man. But my main point……….. you are totally out of your tiny liberal mind to not include our president on your list. I won’t even bother to enumerate, you must have a brain somewhere in there.

  18. JIM BOWNE says:

    No Dennis Kucinich? One of the few who is unbiased…and does not need a speechwriter because he speaks from the heart!

    With some of your pollsters, I am surprised Bush/Cheney et al are not on te list!

  19. Kate Maloy says:

    Where is Dennis Kucinich?

  20. Audrey Wyatt says:

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????!!!!! I can’t imagine what your criteria could be but as a citizen in Jeff Flake’s district I can tell you that he DOES NOT meet my definition of a good man. This man could not care less about his district! In the time I’ve lived in AZ I’ve never heard from him, despite my repeatedly contacting his office. When I complained to his office that he never acknowledges my comments I got a form letter. He has done nothing, and I mean NOTHING for this district. He serves only his corporate overlords. He is in every sense of the word a bad man.

    If you want to honor a great man who has worked diligently for decades to serve the people, even sacrificing his own career to protect the people of Cleveland, you need to meet Dennis Kucinich.

    Jeff Flake? Please!

    • Roger Webb says:

      I was about to leave the same post almost word for word! I live in his district and he only serves one thing… his agenda and his religious beliefs…

      I’m shocked – in fact I laughed out loud when I saw his name on this list!!

  21. Dennis Kucinich – Good Guy

  22. Goodmen Project:
    put me on local fox about the growing problem of gender bias in the courts, children are being hurt an destroyed because the system wont listen to good men and women are over protected ….

  23. MK Miller says:

    How can Paul Ryan possibly be considered a Good Man when he actively encourages prejudice against gay men and women? He cares not for anyone who is not an extreme right wing evangelical Christian and the right of corporations over the good of his fellowman. By no definition, is this man a Good Man.

  24. Whollyfool says:

    I’m glad someone thinks as highly of Carl Levin as I do. I am proud of my Michigan senators. They have consistently shown themselves to be team players, not trying to screw over others for their own benefit.

    Carl Levin fights for what he believes is right and practicable, and that’s what I want in a representative. He also gives a very well reasoned speech. It’s nice (and a very odd feeling) to have someone Michigan can be proud of.

  25. Hy Howjado says:

    Including Al Franken on this list pretty much invalidates the rest of the list as Al fails miserably at most of the criteria.

    Far from being respectful and trying to work with his political opposites, he belittles them every time he is left in charge of the house.

    Being from Michigan, I concur with putting Carl Levin on top of the list for being a good man.

    However, he has a completely undistinguished legislative record and basically has taken up space for several decades. Additionally, Michigan has been on of the top 2 tax donor states during Carl’s entire tenure leading to the draining of billions of dollars from Michigan with nothing to show for it.

  26. David Wise says:

    I’m surprised that Mitchell and Roberts picked Republican Richard Lugar. I figured both of these women were progressives. Their choice is too fishy. I think they’re politicking and trying to give the impression that they’re neutral. So I regard this as a weasel choice.

    • In earlier years, they would both have probably chosen John McCain. Liberal jounalists tend to support men who are wishy-washy conservative politicians. It adds to their credibility, but they would not actually vote for the man if they had a liberal on the ballot.

  27. Kurt Sunderbruch says:

    Great piece, Tom. I’m looking forward to learning about the character and principles of men with whom I do not agree. I won’t quibble about your choices based on partisan choices.

    Years ago when I was a Republican (before I grew out of it), I supported a man who was both governor of and senator from Washington state, Dan Evans. He is the very picture of a principled man who is also a politician. He has led a life of thoughtful and committed service to both his state and his nation, and even though my party affiliation has changed and his has not, I would vote for him again in a moment given the opportunity. I trust him to try his hardest to do what is best rather than flap in the breeze of the nasty sort of partisan rhetoric that has come to dominate our political dialog.

  28. Aren’t these comments a sign of the exact opposite of what this project is trying to achieve. We take political grievances and politicize them. So Paul Ryan can’t possibly be a good man because we have policy disagreements with him. I don’t know Paul Ryan. Maybe he’s a jerk. But he doesn’t stop being a “good man” because I might disagree with him regarding how to balance the budget. Bernie Sanders isn’t a bad man because his politics are on the left. Again, maybe he’s a jerk. I don’t know. But that is a separate question from whether he is a good man or not.

    I do take umbrage at Al Franken’s presence here. There are multiple instances of Franken being petty and mean (for example, when at a college event he made fun of a student’s speech impediment because the student had committed the sin of being a Republican).

    • RE: “So Paul Ryan can’t possibly be a good man because we have policy disagreements with him.”

      When the policy we’re disagreeing on limits my liberty to get married, to adopt children, and in general infringes directly on my personal freedoms, then he is not a good man.

  29. Paul Ryan? The man who wants to cut every social safety net imaginable? And you’re calling him a good man? Unbelievable.

  30. Mark Ellis says:

    I’m willing to let Franken slide; I dug him as a comedian, and after the Republicans get control again it will be good to have him around for comic relief. But Sanders? This guy’s a bigger Commie than Gloria All-Red. Look, isn’t the Project based in Boston? What about Mitt Romney, my choice for prez notwithstanding his helmsmanship on the state’s health care debacle? Scott Brown’s probably too new for consideration, but thank you Massachusetts, for electing someone who, unlike Sanders, will “defeat the terrorists, not give them a trial in Manhattan.” Chris Christie should also be on the list, in the interest of economic sustainability. Anyway, I was wondering how long before the GM Project stepped into the political fray.

    • I don’t think you’ll find a politician (anywhere) who is less self-serving than Bernie Sanders. Tell me —have you followed his actions closely through his years in politics? I think not. But (after reading your post) it does appear that mud-slinging has become the SOP for more than just the politicians. Do everyone a favor and know what you’re talking about before you make more derogatory statements.

  31. George Pitzer says:

    I strongly disagree with Jeff Flake or as I call him, Jeff Fake. He was absent on a critical vote on cap and trade and he voted for censure of a really fine man, Joe Wilson. I am in Fake’s district and will not be voting for him as I emailed him on these two issues. I am sure he will win anyway, but he is not worthy of your good men list.

  32. Will Scoggins says:

    Hate to say it, Thomas, but your cred took a real beating when you included Ryan as a “good man”. You’re not old enough to remember that there was once a time when politicians of both sides of the aisle worked to make this a fairer, better country. Ryan and his Grover Norquist acolytes do not represent a different pathway toward that better, fairer world. To them, “let them eat cake” is a suitable, even noble philosophy. That you would include what can only be characterized as evil into the discussion (maybe to offer a “balanced” perspective) is not worthy of your good heart and your exceptional brain. That Ryan was included was a travesty; that Barney Frank was excluded appears to be moral intimidation.

    And, yes, I use “evil” and I don’t offer it lightly. I grew up in the segregated South, so I can speak of political evil from first hand experience. That Reagan opened his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi was the first sign that a certain group had sealed their pact with the devil. We’re paying for it now and we’re gonna be paying long after I’m dead. George Wallace garnered nearly 15% of the national vote in 1968 but everyone outside the South saw him as a racist and immoral man. Nowadays he’d be seen as a centrist.

    I know that in your project you want and need to be seen as an apolitical animal. Fair enough. But, more now than in 1954, we need Joe Welch to utter his immortal plea, “have you no decency?” And somebody, probably somebody like you, has got to call evil exactly what it is. Ultimately, in my world, being a “good man” is standing up to bullies and not allowing evil to find purchase. And that always takes courage.

    • Thank you- I agree completely.

      I have followed the good men project from the beginning on my RSS reader and I have been amused by some of their contributions, but when they try to tell me that Paul Ryan is a “good man”, then it’s clear to me that any definition this website has of a “good man” is useless.

      It’s been fun.

  33. I saw a documentary on Cory Booker from when he was running for mayor against a very corrupt opponent who had cast a seemingly Svengali-like trance over the citizens (of course, also paying many off and using horrible tactics against opponents – documented in the film). He seemed like a bright light with lots of good ideas and idealism – it is very nice to see that he has followed through with his intentions.

  34. Correction: Feingold occupies the seat most recently held by Bob Kasten (R); Wellstone’s seat is currently held by Franken in Minnesota. The gentleman from Slate is getting his quirky Midwestern states mixed up.

  35. I read with pride as a dad the Tuesday October 12th, Boston Globe Op-ed article by Tom Matlack founder of the Good Men Project, “A Good Man for Governor.”

    This article just highlights the importance of fathers and dads in kids and the candidate for Governors lives. Both the Governor and Charlie Baker seem to be loving dads. Charlie Baker said his father taught him the most about Manhood. For the Governor, it was his Grandfather.

    Fathers, grandfathers, they all play a key role in shaping children’s lives. We know that if one has a dad in a child’s life, they are less likely to drop out of school, less likely to do drugs and alcohol, less likely to grow up violent and less likely to be suicidal.

    So if we know all of these positive benefits, why have the candidates ignored the plight of fathers today. We are now sadly a nation of children raised without those fathers. 41% of all new births are to unwed mothers, most who will bring up these boys and girls without dads. Over 28% of our nations children are now raised without a father in the home, over 20 million children. No other nation comes close to ours for kids raised without dads in the home.

    Governor Patrick has said he would sign a Shared Parenting bill, yet has failed to advocate for one. Charlie Baker says he does not support Shared Parenting for fit parents.

    Bringing back fathers into kids lives takes leadership. I applaud the Good Men Project for working to bring back men, fathers and grandfathers back into kids lives. It will take a Village to get this right.

    To give kids the opportunity that Charlie Baker had, and the Governor only partially had, will take work. This work to bring back father will involve passing Shared Parenting for fit parents to keep fit dads involved with kids lives and advocating for reform on the Federal level to remove those incentives that have demonized rather than supported fatherhood.

    Dr. Peter G. Hill

    • Tom Matlack says:


      Well certainly part of being a good man, in my personal view, is being a good father and reflecting carefully on your own father. That’s why I ask the questions I do, over and over again, about fatherhood.

      Thanks for continuing to shine a light on these important issues.


    • JENNY KASTNER says:

      While I appreciate the importance of Black fathers being involved with the raising of their children, I would like to point out that millions of white fathers abandon their children either by leaving the family or by being so caught up in their work that they spend little time with their offspring. Increasingly, mothers are carrying the burden of raising their kids practically alone, to the detriment of both boys and girls. This problem does not apply only to people of color!

  36. It has been cited that Mitch Daniels has saved Indiana from financial ruin. The question is, “How did he do it”? To meet his new budget, he fired thousands of state employees. This was not a “cutting of the fat”. A large percentage of the newly unemployed state workers are the ones who have dedicated 30, even 40 years to their jobs. These same people are finding it impossible to find new jobs because of their age. Even though it is illegal to not hire someone because of their age, the fact is no one is hiring 50 and 60 year old people in his economy, especially when their work experience is limited to state government. It is a tragic event for these folks. Many have had to cash in retirement plans just to keep their homes. My wife is one such case. She had over 30 years es an employee of the BMV.

    I voted for Daniels twice because I am a lifelong conservative. Now, I have a very cynical view of all politicians. His policies have virtually destroyed our lives and taken a toll on our health. The stress is unbearable. I guess it is a negligible price to pay for Mr. Daniels career advancement.

    For Mitch Daniels, the old saying holds true, “The ends justify the means”!

  37. “We looked for men with integrity and intellectual honesty.
    We looked for men who respect their political opponents, treat their constituents like the adults they are, and promote openness and transparency in government.”

    Given the first two criteria, neither hoosier merits a spot on this list. Take it from a hoosier. You need only look at the amount that Indiana owes for it’s underfunded unemployment trust fund. It will start incurring penalties at the end of the current Daniel’s administration. Lugar has finally sold his vote to the party of NO!

  38. I could not agree more. This man is so corporate in his views he should say he is CEO of Wisconsin.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Corey Booker is a nice guy with a conscience. I wonder how long he will stay in politics. No doubt he is shocked by the crap going on it the big political arena. WHY isn’t Luz Warren on this list?


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