Political gridlock in Washington has been a favorite topic of complaint for several years now when friends meet to chat over coffee, a golf game or backyard fences.
Congress seems to be in a stranglehold created by its own members: neither Republicans nor Democrats are willing to compromise in even the tiniest of ways. Anecdotal stories float westward from the nation’s capital almost weekly about the supposed retribution that falls on anyone who even thinks about reaching across the aisle, leaving us, who live far outside the beltway, to just imagine what would happen to someone who might actually extend his hand to someone of the opposite party.
Washington. The problem is Washington, we tend to think.
Think again. From where we sit, we had a pretty good view this week of what looked to us like entrenched partisanship right here at home. It saddened us. And made us very angry.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, was in Shelby County this week. He spoke and answered questions at the Senior Center and visited with executives and workers at the Airstream plant in Jackson Center. He is one of just two Ohio senators, which made his stop here a big deal.
So why the sadness? Why the anger? Because our esteemed county commissioners and our esteemed city council and our esteemed mayor were nowhere in sight. None of them attended either one of Brown’s appearances. We understand that they might not have been invited to Airstream. Brown’s stopover there was specifically for the company’s employees.
But his talk at the Senior Center was open to the public. So where were all of our local politicos and why weren’t they at 304 S. West Ave. Monday morning?
We think every single one of them should have been in attendance, but we realize that there may have been some conflicts in schedule. That said, at least one person from each board should have gone to represent his absent colleagues. And one would have thought that a sitting senator would have been greeted and welcomed to town by the mayor.
Why was there no representation at all? We can only assume it’s because Brown is a Democrat and most of Shelby County’s elected officials are Republicans. That’s why we’re sad and angry. Partisan politics should not be in play in this instance.
Brown was not on a campaign tour. He’s not up for re-election for another three years! He was here to meet constituents, listen to their concerns and answer their questions. If nothing else, his visit might have given commissioners and councilors an opportunity to hear what’s on the minds of the people they serve.
But they missed that opportunity. In Shelby County, we like to talk about how friendly we are, how the parties get along with each other to get done what’s best for the people who live here. On Monday, that seemed to us to be just talk. Our mother always told us that actions speak louder than words. The local elected officials’ non-actions this week are screaming.
And in the end, that makes us not only sad and angry, but embarrassed. Embarrassed that the consideration and respect that is due Ohio’s highest representative in Washington was not paid here, where we live. Shame on us.