“Never trust someone with two first names”
“Except Barney Frank”
This was a common joke my friend and I always said when discussing politics, or anything for that matter. The simple joke reflected both mine and my friends’ deep admiration for the Massachusetts congressman and his blunt and often hilarious truth telling. So when I discovered that Barney Frank had written a biography, I knew I had to get it at the earliest opportunity. This involved me buying this book and others while in Portland for my boyfriend’s college graduation to the point I was concerned about my luggage since I had only my carry on backpack.
Well, the book was definitely worth every penny. Frank traces Congressman Barney Frank’s life from his schooling through every step of his political career. Full of witticisms, insults, political and personal success, Frank is a stellar book for any political junkie. Perhaps most amazing about Barney Frank’s story is his very personal struggle with his coming out as a gay man. The insecurity and at times shame was only bested by Frank’s raw determination to do good for his constituents and the nation as a whole. Frank portraits his struggles and fallibility with a unique grace that was profoundly moving.
As an openly gay man who happens to be a smart ass at times, the story of Barney Frank could not help but to be inspirational. At times I could not help but to empathize with his feelings, his thoughts and actions. More often than my self-esteem would care to admit I actually thought aloud, “I could be a congressman. If Barney can, then I can.”
Barney Frank was often derided for his callous or snarky comments, however the breadth and depth of the work he accomplished cannot be ignored. Frank was an honest man who fought a long fight for the people of his district through his own coming out, a sex scandal, and the Great Recession.
Perhaps the best lesson to take away from Frank is the author’s insistence on the capacity of government to do good, and that this belief is core to the white male voting block. Frank argues, rather cogently, that the Democratic Party, though right to embrace the growing demographics fo the nation, would be served well by using the public sector to achieve something for the common good in such a way that it would bring a demographic that has been largely written of — white men— and put them back in play for Democrats. The theory is interesting and not without merit. I have heard from many people about the lack of function in the government, and not just Congress. If the Democratic Party was able to both trumpet the causes and needs of its base, the growing racial and ethnic demographics, women, the LGBT community and the college educated liberals, but was able to prove that while working for these causes, they could make the government function again then the Democratic party makes an incredibly strong argument for the heart and soul of American politics.