“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
8 ) Mark Strama
6) Jeff Flake
5) Al Franken
3) Cory Booker
2) Paul Ryan
1) Carl Levin