Something Doc Thompson said the other day sent me down a dark abyss of contorted anger. He mentioned Roxanne Qualls, who was at a budget meeting he attended.
Roxanne used to be Mayor of Cincinnati, and I have some experience with politicians in that grand city hall. It was in that building that I learned at the early age of 25 the principles of politics. (Pictures referenced from Wikipedia. CLICK HERE to learn more.)
It was refreshing to hear Doc talk about his experiences with a city council member that gave him the cold shoulder at that budget meeting, when in fact that very same day, Doc had that council member on 700 WLW to explain how important his integrity was to him.
Doc’s comments were classic, and refreshing, because it confirmed in me that I am not alone in my experiences with politicians, and that at least one other person in the world had virtually the same opinion of them.
I sat in front of Roxanne Qualls in her large, opulent office while her staff worked outside the door and watched Qualls giggle smugly at my suggestion that she support lower taxes. Her look made me feel as if she were telling me, “you poor naive young man, you don’t understand that we’ve already made all the decisions. We only have the public meetings to facilitate the public into believing they play a part of the process.”
I learned much later that the technique used by virtually every politician is the Delphi Technique, or some variation of it. I received the same look when I explained to Todd Portune in his office how my idea for a non-alcoholic night club would benefit the pleas of desperate moms pleading with Cincinnati City Council to do something about the under aged drinking that was going on at the University of Cincinnati campus, specifically a nightclub called COOTERS.
A few weeks after my meeting with Mr. Portune the Corryville Business Association put pressure on the owner of the building I was trying to lease, and I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how they found out what I was up to. I knew they would be upset with my non-alcoholic nightclub idea, because back then, bars had to close at 2 AM. If I operated an establishment without a liquor license that would put a lot of pressure on the surrounding bar establishments that would lose some of their under-aged business to me, because kids under 21 don’t like the hassle of possibly being turned away, or getting caught with a fake ID, and I’d be able to stay open all night.
But my business idea died as quick as it rose. I found out that Mr. Portune at the time, a council member was also the attorney for that nightclub. So it had to be him that tipped off the nightclub to what I was doing.
It was a hard lesson of the nature of politics. It struck me hard with disillusionment and anger at the process that crushed fresh ideas before they ever had a chance to move forward. You find in every council meeting across the nation, every trustee meeting, every school board, every state congress and senate, and each federal congress and senate is that same blank elitism that Doc described.
I think it starts with a love of titles, and people who love them tend to crave positions of power, and the perception of politics is that being elected is a reception of power. It’s a puerile idea which appears to be inherited through the collective learning process gained over the centuries of human development.
The United States Constitution was designed to alleviate the need for much of this political trouble. But, unfortunately the weaker human minds, the ones that crave power, that crave material things, that crave the adoration of the public, they are the ones that run for office, and they are the ones that want to sit behind a desk and decide the fate of many. In their hearts, they truly want royalty and the false respect that comes with it.
I shouldn’t say all. I’ve met a few here and there that had a light on behind their eyes. Rob Portman is one; I had several long talks with him in the early 90’s back when a thing called the Reform Party was making news in the papers. I also met a few of Ross Perot’s children and they were all bright-eyed and unspoiled. I could see the light on there as well. But those people are the very rare exceptions. Most of the rest are ready to make a deal, for there is no ethical avenue to guide their movements. After a public meeting the voting public just looks to each other for a moment of disbelief as if to wonder what just happened, because the deals had already been made well before anyone showed up for the meeting.
I once attended a meeting the Cincinnati City Council had with the public to figure out what to put on the river. They wanted ideas, this was sometime around 1993. I watched my friend and several other citizens give very impassioned speeches about how to develop the riverfront. The council members would scribble stuff down and nod their heads, and thank the speakers for their input.
After the meeting, the common people would go up and try to speak to the council members, but the council people were only interested in speaking to the developers, or in other words, the people who may contribute future campaign funds. My friend had made by far the best speech of anyone, and not a single council member wanted to shake his hand or would even look him in the eye. They shunned him because his input wasn’t really wanted. The whole process was just a show for the papers, to report to the public that the council people were listening to the people speak. The real deals were going on elsewhere.
I saw the same thing in zoning issues all over Liberty and West Chester Twp, and I’ve recently seen it within the Lakota School district at school board meetings.
Politicians are dangerous because most of what they crave is false, honor through title, respect by name plates, and wealth through side deals. In too many cases, they are hungry attorneys who use political contacts to bring business to their practice. They aren’t interested in being public servants.
That’s why they cower behind their little desks and office doors and cling to the frail appendages of reality they shape through public opinion. Because if you get too close to them, and gaze upon the soul that drives the body, you’ll find the seat vacant. Instead you’ll find the wires and gears responding to a remote control, and the real pilot no place to be found.