My friend Donna Miller, the woman responsible for the excellent blog Read Any Good Books Lately, was concerned. She thought that I might be getting bored. Beth Bryan felt that mentioning her birthday, April 12th, would improve both this blog and my disposition. My guess is that I am simply frustrated and disillusioned.
I would like to think the best of people. Yes, Ambrose Bierce is one of my favorite authors and I always have two of his books in my briefcase, but I really am, at my core, optimistic. Damn near Pollyannaish. That is proving to be more difficult. No matter how many times I lower my expectations, our leaders still fail to deliver. I am not Catholic, so I am only aware, but unaffected, by all of those issues. I am thinking about our political leaders and that seems to be all that I can handle.
My frustration has been building for thirteen years. It began with the bloodless coup d’état the Republicans staged in 1998. I can’t tell you which bothered me more, the incredible hypocrisy or the naked power grab.
The Clinton impeachment gave us the Bush presidency. Eight years of George Bush and Dick Cheney did nothing to restore my faith and confidence in our government. We are still learning the full extent of their incompetence, their avarice, and their total disregard for the rule of law.
The last year or so have not been much better. Different, but not better. Democrats. Republicans. Not much to choose from. Certainly no heroes. I have been involved in politics and government, on the local, state and federal level, since 1972. I’ve met and talked with senators, presidents, and world leaders. Our current group doesn’t measure up. And I am frustrated.
I was at Moxie’s yesterday evening for the annual Shoes and Clothes for Kids fundraiser, Fool’s Frolic. My friend Seth Briskin of Meyers Roman is on the host committee of this terrific event. Of course, how hard is it to throw a great party when you’ve got wonderful food, an open bar, and some of this area’s most interesting people in the room. I was having a good time even before I met Mamie and Mark.
Mamie J. Mitchell is the Councilwoman for Cleveland’s Ward 6. Mark A. Schneider is the State Representative for District 63 which includes Mentor and the surrounding communities. My conversations with the two of them left me with the feeling that all is not lost. Do me a favor, if you are aware of any information that would prove that these two people are no better intentioned than all of the other politicians I’ve encountered lately, keep it to yourself for a couple of days. I don’t need to be disappointed today.
Mamie Mitchell is deeply connected to Ward 6. She speaks as positively about the new Juvenile Justice Center at 93rd and Quincy as she does about the trendy shops and restaurants of Larchmere. She was a manager for BP before she went to law school. I appreciate how she has managed her life and has sought to control her own destiny. It is that toughness that she brings to her current job. We agreed on some issues affecting her community. We agreed on some political issues. But not all, and I was happy to listen to her views on all of these subjects.
Mark Schneider has a real sense of what works and what doesn’t. Ten minutes with him convinced me that there are practical, realistic people in our government. We spent most of the time discussing a topic of mutual interest, business incubators and the point where private and public interests intersect. He has been a Cuyahoga County prosecutor and is now affiliated with a Lake County firm where he practices probate and estate planning law. I think he has a terrific future.
No, I don’t think either of these people are our next president or even senator. That isn’t the point. We need a government. We need qualified leaders, people with both the moral and intellectual capacity to lead effectively. We should celebrate those moments when we encounter those politicians. It is the rarity of the moment that makes it so unusual. It is our need for more such moments that makes this so important.