Let me take a moment to be reflexive about my politics. I am not a progressive. I was raised on the third wave politics of the Clinton years. I am a centrist, albeit one that reliably leans center-left. I do not consider myself a member of a political party. I am – for better or worse – an incrementalist by nature. I prefer my change to come in small steps rather than giant revolutionary leaps.
So if the Democratic primary in the 11th District is really a battle between the progressive left and the moderate center, why am I supporting Andy Levin?
There is a poem in my siddur that starts,
Disturb us, Adonai, Ruffle us from our complacency.
This line jars me because I know that I am frequently complacent. In my existence, so many of the ills of the world are hidden from me. It is not that I choose to ignore them; instead, it is that I must make an affirmative choice to see them. I am exactly the person who needs to be ruffled from my complacency.
Andy Levin is the type of leader that demands we notice our own complacency. He does not simply rely on labels — anti-poverty or pro-environment or pro-two-state solution. He asks us what it means to hold these labels.
If we support working families, what are we going to do about it? The environment? Israel? Andy — a community organizer at heart — is about action. I understand why this might upset people. It is easier to stay well within our comfort zone. But leadership must be about more than making us comfortable. It must be about fighting for a better world, even if we need to ruffle some feathers to do so.
I know Andy will never be complacent. He will never settle for easy or expedient. He will always be ready for action, to put meaning behind his words.
I don't doubt that, with Andy as the 11th District Congressman, I will disagree with him on occasion. I have reservations about the Green New Deal. I would make certain revisions to the Two-State Solution Act. I would support a public option rather than Medicare for All. Perhaps this is just my centrist nature being resistant to change while his activist instincts have him supporting bold solutions.
But I would rather believe that it is in this push and pull, in this debate on the issues, that real solutions can be developed that will move our country forward. Without people like Andy — their progressive values, their boldness, their willingness to explore new ideas — we risk descending into complacency and failing to address problems in any meaningful way.
To the extent Andy needs moderate voters like me to win the 11th district, I need a leader like him to rescue me from complacency and remind me what is at stake and why we need to fight for real solutions to the real problems faced by our country.
That is why I will vote for Andy Levin on August 2.