Tim Ryan, the current US Representative serving Ohio's 17th district, was kinda enough to meet with the MTB crew (+ me) this afternoon at one in Akron's beautiful Café Momus. Gloria Ferris, Pho, Redhorse, Terra, among several others were in attendance. It was truly awesome (read: as "instilling awe") being in the presence of these people whom I read on a daily (at the least) basis. Oh, and then Tim Ryan was there... did I mention that? Having been involved with politics as much as I have, one can only feel the thrill of meeting politicians for so long. The last time I remember being excited about meeting one was when I interviewed then-Mayor James Roberts of Medina in 2nd (or maybe 3rd??) grade.
With that rambling out of the way...
Tim Ryan is one of the more down-to-Earth politicians that I've met... and it was nice, especially after having interacted with Betty Sutton a little over two weeks ago. Many subjects regarding economic development were touched, ranging from housing development to the development of the Western Reserve heritage area. All of this was quite interesting, but I'd like to touch upon a subject that recurred frequently.
Congressman Ryan and the bloggers gathered around the table frequently mentioned something that is critically lacking in America's modern political landscape: inspirational leadership. Ryan reflected upon visiting the JFK library to attend a ceremony for Congressman Murtha to receive a Profile in Courage award and picking up a pack of 4 CDs of various speeches delivered by President Kennedy. He reflected upon the hope and the vision of Kennedy and the clear lack of politicians who are willing to take a chance and dare to lead.
This all struck a very powerful chord for me as one who believes in the need for leaders who think forward and with vision, very much unlike the weak-spined politicians who currently occupy many of the offices throughout our country.
What has caused the nearly total absence of leaders?
I would argue that it is because of things like pollsters and focus groups... politicians aren't daring enough to do anything that may be remotely unpopular, regardless of the (in)justice associated. They are beholden to numbers and just serve to get reelected.
What would most politicians do if they weren't politicians? Would they be snakes in the grass? Snakes on a plane?
We need leaders. My "Now Hiring Leaders" is hanging outside my window... and for what it's worth, I am also prepared to lead, as I always have been.