15 Oct 2018 home
Voters want a government that works better — better for our citizens generally. So, in this appeal to voters, I'm putting aside issues of conflicting interests and will focus on the character of politicians running for office. People tend to blame politicians for "the mess" we're in, blame that really belongs to the people who elected them. In three weeks we will be going through another round, and the stakes are high. The question is what kind of people are we? How good are we at judging good leadership from bad? How gullible are we in what appears to be another era of circus politics?
The Governor here in my state, Ohio, is a Republican, an honest and decent man of integrity, John Kasich. I'm saying this because I don't want you to think I'm trashing all Republicans. The Republican I'm focusing on here is Congressman Jim Renacci, who this last Sunday debated Ohio's incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown.
Renacci quickly started with nonsense: "The Senator's vision is Washington First, creating one job for himself and loving Washington so much that he forgot about the people of Ohio." A couple of minutes later he did it again, stooping to the ad hominem ploy of associating your opponent with someone thought unpopular. He described Brown as loving "Washington too much. He loves staying with Chuck Schumer and doing nothing." Renacci was trying to appear to be running against Washington. Brown was trying to have a serius discussion and interjected:
Just to make it clear, I heard Congressman Renacci four times say I live in Washington. I come home every single weekend. I go to Washington Monday and come back Thursday.
It was Brown who raised a real issue: climate change. He said:
Congress and the White House have been derelict in their duty to address climate change. It's a great moral issue of our times because of the future health of our planet. We never should have pulled out of the Paris Accords climate Change... Our Federal government continues to be in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry, repealing renewable portfolio standards.
Renacci defended himself saying,
He's more concerned about other states and Washington DC. This state has natural assets in coal and gas... My grandfather was a coal miner. If my grandfather was alive today he would say Senator Brown you don't suport me.
Renacci stayed with attack: "Senator Brown loves Washington and Chuck Schumer. He votes 97 percent of the time with them." Renacci presented himself as a bleeding heart conservative, saying:
Our focus should be on the disabled and making sure that the disability and Medicaid dollars are there. I'm a big proponent of that. We need to make sure that we're taking care of the elderly, the handicapped and children. That's why I support Medicaid dollars. Too often we have people in Washington who only worry about the next election. [Our] biggest problems in with career politicians.
Brown pointed out that Renacci voted 20 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Renacci tried for mileage from the Senate Kavanaugh hearings, complaining that it was "the Democratic Party who decided to tear down a poor man who gave a compelling speech." Apparently, Renacci saw nothing wrong in trying to tear down Brown by accusing him of "spousal abuse."
Congressman Renacci, my former wife asked you to stop attacking our family. She called these charges and your attacks despicable. She is supporting me, and you should be ashamed of yourself.
The audience responded with loud applause (despite earlier admonishment not to applaud).
When the debate ended, Brown serenely walked off stage. He is leading in the polls by 18 points. Apparently, about 36 percent of the people have what I think of as bad judgment in evaluating the politically ambitious. (I'm wondering, by the way, whether Governor Kasich will challenge President Trump in the 2020 primaries.)
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1980 he became a Certified Public Accountant and a financial advisor. He was interested in wealth, bought into partial ownership of three Harley-Davidson dealerships in Columbus, invested in real estate, sports teams and started a company that was to own more than 30 nursing homes in northern Ohio at one time. He was ranked as "one of the richest members of Congress in 2012 with a net worth of more than $36 million" (Dayton Daily News.com).
His parents had been Democrats and he claims that the Democratic Party left him rather than he leaving the Democratic Party — an old Ronald Reagan line. He began his career in politics in his late thirties (he's 56). He opposed President Obama's bailout of the auto industry. He owned a dealership at the time: Renacci-Doraty Chevrolet. During the GM bailout deal some GM dealerships closed, as did Renacci's, and, instead of blaming GM having gone bankrupt, he blamed government. He claimed that,
Before the dealership, I had no interest in running for Congress. The taking of the dealership made me realize Washington was getting too involved in our lives.
And there you have it: a conservative point of view.
Renacci is close to President Trump (two men successful in business). He says that he has ridden on Air Force One and Air Force Two so many times this year with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that he has lost count.
I think that we need savvy business people, but I confess a preference for politicians who interests were more toward history, science (including medicine), economics, the law, and the humanities. It's unfortunate that some of our politicians aren't more plugged into what it takes to be an honest supporter of what is good for most of us.See the Brown-Renacci debate online (C-Span) here.
CONTINUE READING: The Coming Elections
Copyright © 2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.