People who surround themselves with only those who are agreeable will fail to understand the varying ways human beings see both the world, and the politics which shape it. And yet, there’s nothing inherently wrong with an individual socializing with those who are like-minded. In fact, it’s quite normal.
But when you’re aiming to govern successfully and are already perceived as an outsider – which is the context Philadelphia District Attorney-elect Mr. Larry Krasner finds himself in – you mustn’t cater exclusively to your base, and you must intentionally reach across the aisle and into the establishment. Albeit a hard truth, radical reform must also include a tad bit of pragmatism and open-mindedness.
Mr. Krasner was a successful Democratic candidate because he leveraged and extended his network into a social justice movement. But he’ll be a successful elected official only if he further extends himself into an engagement with those who see the world differently. And to his credit, Mr. Krasner has begun that journey, though not everyone is appreciative of it.
Elected with a mandate, the man described often as far-Left, who aims to do away with cash bail, has selected as a member of his transition team Mr. Ron Castille, a Republican and former chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who, unlike Mr. Krasner, favors the death penalty. In short: Mr. Krasner wants to include in his cognitive surplus the expertise of someone, a polar opposite to boot, who has occupied the office that he’ll soon work from. In my opinion, that means Mr. Krasner, who has never held elected office before, is off to the right start.
But not everyone sees it that way. Last week, some Philadelphians who voted for Mr. Krasner went to his office to protest his decision, which they assert is a betrayal to the movement’s progressive values. To that I say, I understand their point of view. Mr. Castille certainly isn’t a leftist, nor is he an activist, and he isn’t someone you’ll expect to speak fluently the language of the social justice community.
Nonetheless, Mr. Castille has a lived experience – roughly five years as Philadelphia District Attorney, narrowly losing to Mr. Frank Rizzo in the 1991 Republican mayoral primary and nearly twenty-years on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – that’s unique and invaluable. Additionally, his controversies can offer lessons; you don’t have to be a fan of Mr. Castile to learn from him.
I imagine that Mr. Krasner isn’t a fan of Mr. Castille but rather wants to show his critics, those who didn’t vote for him, that he can be fair and is willing to hear other points of view. A major critique of the Trump administration is how homogenous it is, and how the President only consults with, and speaks to, those who are flattering of him.
It’s hypocritical to lament the President for the racial and class homogeneity of his administration and then lament Mr. Krasner for the opposite, as it pertains to his transition team. The DA-elect made the right move in selecting Mr. Castille, he showed true leadership and bipartisanship, and for that he should be celebrated, not protested.
Thanks for reading! Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® and I’m Drumming for Justice!™
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