Banfield: Do politicians need tragedy to do their jobs?

Banfield

(NewsNation) — There was something of a political miracle in Florida on Wednesday.

Who would have thought, just a week ago, that President Joe Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would stand side by side on an important issue: the welfare of their fellow citizens?

But they did Wednesday in Fort Myers. The two met with each other and with Florida hurricane victims. They talked to small business owners and consulted with disaster relief officials. They didn’t just grin and bear it, either. They seemed genuinely complimentary of each other.

The top Democrat and a rising Republican star put down their political swords and came together to unite the country.

And winning votes didn’t seem top of mind. Coming together for the sake of our fellow Americans, the helpless victims of a hurricane, did seem top of mind.

This spirit of cooperation may have caught a lot of people off guard. These two men could be facing off in the presidential election in 2024.

However, they got past their differences in a time of tragedy. My question: Shouldn’t this be the norm? Isn’t this what they’re supposed to do? All the time?

One of the president’s roles is “comforter-in-chief,” to visit a disaster, survey damage, console the locals and soothe the nation’s soul.

It’s his job. And it shouldn’t matter if the governor or senator or mayor of that place is from a different political party.

Same goes for the leader whose region is in tatters. It’s their job to do right by their people. And yet, for some reason, Wednesday’s interaction still has us all pleasantly surprised.

Newsflash: It’s not the first time Biden and DeSantis have had to do this.

In June 2021, they came together to form a united front after the surfside building collapse near Miami; 98 people died when that building fell.

Biden and DeSantis did the right thing. They got to work and helped the victims.

And if you think back, tragedy has been like kryptonite to politics, In 2013, after Hurricane Sandy, President Barack Obama met with then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Photos went viral, at the time, because people couldn’t believe that a Democratic president and a Republican governor could get along.

They got along, but partisan hacks took the boots to Christie for daring to hug Obama in the wake of so much death.

And it wasn’t even a hug! It was a handshake. But nevertheless, no good deed goes unpunished. President George W. Bush frequently found himself in this bipartisan situation.

After Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Isabel and wildfires in California, he worked with Democratic governors, congressmen and mayors to get the emergency funding where it needed to go: to the American people.

And, of course, we remember how united the country was after 9/11. But is that what it takes to get politicians to do their jobs?

Catastrophe? Is tragedy really the only vehicle to bipartisan success in this country?  

Do we only see what we have in common when images of dead Americans flood our television screens?  

Is that the only time it is worth the risk to a politician to do right by their people?

We have been sitting on an immigration crisis in this country for decades because the parties just can’t drop their b.s. for the sake of their people.  

Health care in this country is a debacle because politicians just can’t stop politicking.  

Meanwhile, the rest of us just keep shelling out our taxes and hoping for the best. Hoping for progress, hoping for leaders who put Americans first before reelection, fundraising and partisan tweets.

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