Beside the Point – “City on the Hill” and golden elevators


I don’t like to talk a lot about national issues in a local newspaper. Most of the time I think it’s a tremendous waste of space. Very few people give a hoot about what I think of the national political stage – I’m not even sure at this point I could give a clear and concise opinion.

But we’re seriously out of joint right now. And I’ve had a lot of conversations of late with people about the current political scene. My take is the old adage, it may not be the best system (and it might be) but it’s our system and we reap what we sow.

Donald Trump is the president. He certainly, in my lifetime anyway, is the most polarizing president we’ve dealt with. He is, however, our president. There’s no legal battle that I’m aware of challenging his election so let’s move on. I believe the marches protesting his election, although well-funded, were a tremendous waste of resources. Geesh…what else could we get done if we mobilized that kind of human energy.

But here’s my problem. The issue in Charlottesville is horrible. A biproduct, again in my mind, of the political culture in America right now. Polarization creates emotion and emotion typically elicits response. But it’s the mindset that has saved this country so many times that will hopefully resolve this one as well. Cooler heads will prevail.

As an average joe in southeast Iowa with a growing media outlet, my problem isn’t with Trump. He set a plan, executed his plan and reached his goal…however he did it..he did it. I respect that.

But we’re missing true leadership. I was having an off-the-record conversation earlier this week and said, “Where are the leaders who still believe we are the “City on the Hill”. The phrase comes from a parable from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mound. I’m not an overly religious man but for most of my educated life, I’ve viewed America that way.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, arguably two of the most forward thinking presidents of all time, both used that phrase in speeches that were meant to keep America’s keen eye to the future. America used to be, and may still be in some ways, that light for the world.

Now we have a president who holds pressers outside golden elevator doors. The image is horrible. Some say the stomach-churning events of 911 were, in some way, based on western flamboyance.

Shouldn’t we, and I ask because really I’m not sure at this point, but shouldn’t we be posturing humility shrouded by strength and compassion. What does it say that we can start a historically critical presidential address by stepping out of golden elevators, then hold the event in a foyer.

To me it says, ‘I don’t have time for this’ – it says ‘see my wealth’ – and it devalues the presidency.

One of my favorite NFL coach moments came from Dennis Green, who was coaching the Arizona Cardinals at the time and lost his mind in a post-game tirade after losing to the Chicago Bears. (An emotion I’m all too familiar with).

“You wanna crown ’em, then crown ’em!,” he shouted to the media. “But they were who we thought they were! They were who we thought they were, and we let ’em off the hook!,” the coach screamed, and then slapped the side of the podium and walked off the set.

Mr. Trump is very much who we thought he was. And we crowned him. He now has the responsibility he won, but it’s up to us to not let him off the hook.

By the way, Tuesday, I found some crazy excuse to go see my daughter Kelsey after I dropped her off at the University of Iowa Sunday. They say you’re supposed to give them a couple weeks to make the transition before you go see them. Pffft. Whatever.

We had dinner and I brought her up a movie… She hugged me and showed me the door.

She’s gonna be fine. Me too.

But that’s Beside the Point.




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