Can Cincinnati become a shiny city? My family and friends pondered this question over our Thanksgiving meal while watching football. We did this under the backdrop of recent scandals that have rocked our political landscape and made our city a national embarrassment. After reflecting on the ideas that were shared, I have concluded that Greater Cincinnati politics must make some trades.
In this article, I wear the hat of a coach to point out that there are 10 trade-offs worth making. Championship teams begin to see things differently as they cross the mid-season threshold. We need to ‘see’ things differently, so each trade-off begins with a ‘C’ (get it?). There are 10 Cs that we must trade-off in Cincinnati and replace with new Cs. The first 5 relate to political culture and the last 5 relate to voter decisions in 2021, and beyond:
1. Trade Collusion for Courage
We all recall the day in 2008 when the local Republican and Democratic party leaders colluded in a backroom deal to prevent challenges to County Commissioner candidates. This awful disservice denied voters their right to discuss and vote freely. We must be courageous in vision and not blindly protect incumbents.
2. Trade Corruption for Commitment
The recent arrests for corruption have been a major stain on our city. Those implicated engaged in a mind-boggling betrayal of public trust. This was a selfish quest for personal profit and self-advancement. Our culture should only celebrate individuals who are committed to public service for the greater good.
3. Trade Conflict for Collaboration
Fights between City Hall and the County Commission have resulted in worn out residents. Each side is continually aiming for the quick score, not realizing that they are one team. Let us bring higher reward for citizens by choosing collaboration in all matters of public service; that is how we win together.
4. Trade Calculation for Concern
Service to the people has been poisoned by politicians who are constantly making calculations and positioning themselves for the next campaign. Constant self-advancement and underhand tactics are toxic. Elected officials should concern themselves only with the needs of the electorate.
5. Trade Conceitedness for Citizenship
High-level conceitedness is indicative of the elusiveness of truth in today’s world. The great public servants of old were individuals who embraced what I call FCC — First Class Citizenship! Conventional thinking may hold steadfastly to alternative facts, but citizenship is about morals, convictions, and values.
6. Trade Characteristic narcissists for Community builders.
Our local culture leans toward candidates with certain characteristics. After my maiden political run, someone sent me an email asking, “Can anything good come out of Price Hill?” I responded, “A society that only values certain characteristics ends up with narcissists, but our quest should be to nurture real community builders”. Community builders are difference makers and impact makers.
7. Trade Chaotic rulers for Calm representatives
Chaos in our local leadership systems cast us as average performers with merely acceptable or dull public servants. Our city cannot rise based on mediocrity. We need calm and steady representatives who will captain the ship out of stormy waters and into the open oceans of sound leadership.
8. Trade Crisis managers for Change agents
This coronavirus crisis has sharply illuminated the incompetence of many elected officials. We see crisis managers at work instead of change agents who execute sound strategies. Crisis management does not win. Beating the pandemic and other seemingly insurmountable issues that threaten humanity will require change agents who execute on a well-defined, clear-cut strategy.
9. Trade Crooked dealers for Creative producers
In the second half of a sports season, a smart league begins to separate contenders from pretenders. Championship teams do not miss the opportunity to trade crooked pretenders for creative performers. The key factor is that pretenders play while performers produce.
10. Trade Career politicians for Caring leaders
Our small Thanksgiving gathering had two fantasy football aficionados. Both were rooting for their favorite players to pad their stats, but not for the teams those players represented. This was intriguing! In a split-second I realized that ‘People don’t care that your team wins, they care that they win’. Translation: Whether a leader has a D, R, or I next to the name does not matter. The greatest of leaders care that the people win!
Readers, if Cincinnati is to become a shiny city in 2021 and beyond, it is time to reshape, not recycle, the roster. We cannot ask our local teams to make big trades in the quest for a championship, yet we keep doing the same things we have always done in Greater Cincinnati politics. It is time to make some trades.