Vernon Jordan the Great Pragmatic Liberal

Updated: Apr 11

I have a lot of respect for Mr. Vernon Jordan, who died this pass week at the age of 85. I have respect for Mr. Jordan because of his humanity, respect for others with opposing views and genuine care for his fellow man. A great article in the Wall Street Journal today reflects on a conservative's interaction, over 40 years ago, with Mr. Jordan. Mr. Jordan advised the conservative on his future with care and compassion.

Vernon Jordan Pragmatic Liberal
Vernon Jordan

Mr. Jordan, as many of you may know, was a proud liberal. Few would consider him on the moderate side of the Democratic Party. He was considered, in his time, as more of the AOC or Sanders side of the Democratic party, than, on the JFK, Clinton & Biden wing of the Party.


However, he was not a polarizing figure since he had a deep respect for others and realized that his opinions are just that - opinions. He, also, was willing to listen to the opinions of others, reflect on these opinions and, thus, his opinions evolved over time. Simply, Mr. Jordan was a mature, nuanced, and pragmatic liberal without a bone of hate in his body. I had the great pleasure to hear Mr. Jordan speak on three occasions. While his politics are a little left of mine, I have deep admiration for his manners, disposition and compassion.


I wonder if we have many politicians on the Right or the Left, these days, that have even the most basic respect for the opposing viewpoints of others. Or an iota of willingness to quietly listen to these viewpoints and learn or at least appreciate the the origins of them. Simply, it seems we are too polarized to even get ourselves out of our echo chambers and consider, like Mr. Jordan that pragmatism, compromise and respect leads to good governance.


A great article in the Wall Street Journal sheds light on this issue and the greatness of Mr. Jordan. The article is by the Journal's editor. He is reminiscing on an interview he had with Mr. Jordan when, the editor, was a pup reporter for the Conservative National Review.


The editor in this meeting was debating with Mr. Jordan the merits of supply-side economics. Mr. Jordan was vehemently opposed to supply-side economics. Mr. Jordan treated him with respect, genuine regard for the development of the reporter's career and never chastised or scolded him for what Mr. Jordan would consider a "mere" difference of opinion.


The Wall Street Journal article notes, in part, that:

"Jordan once famously said that he was too old to let race interfere with friendship. He was also too wise, and pragmatic, to let political ideology, interfere with friendship or mentoring young people. He quietly advised countless men and women, regardless of race or politics, as they navigated careers and sought to in fluence America's political and social debates. . .
This week, as I've thought about our 1979 encounter, I've wondered if a young conservative today would catch a similar break. Our would our polarized times and censorious culture deny that opportunity on either the left or the right? I wonder, but I'm grateful I met Vernon Jordan in the New York hotel 42 years ago."

I was considering, after reading this article, why we are so polarized today. Looking at Mr. Jordan's past - you can see the reason. He had experience as a lawyer, business executive, speech writer, author, field director for the NAACP and was a lover of knowledge (loved reading books). Now, take a look at the experience of our governor, mayor, the NY City Council, and our State Senate and Assembly. This is the same reality in most States. We have too many pontificators that have no real-world experience outside of political organizing and too few experienced and pragmatic leaders.


God bless Mr. Jordan and Godspeed.


Sean Hayes (Candidate for New York City Council in District 1)

Pragmatic Solutions through Experienced Leadership


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