Saturday, September 28, 2013

“This Island Geauga”

c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a cool, breezy day on the Chardon Square.
I had sought out a comfortable place to pause and check my notes, before covering a meeting of the local AMC cars club in Burton. The sky overhead was bright and clear. Grateful to be alone, I found an empty bench away from the flow of pedestrian traffic.
My iPhone was jammed with text messages. I began to read in silence, but this moment of reflection ended suddenly.
“Rodneyyyyy!” squawked my friend Carrie Hamglaze. “How have you been?” She was dressed in flowing layers of ivory and emerald green. A sparkling, red hat topped her ensemble.
“Hello Carrie,” I wheezed with surprise.
“A beautiful day to be outside,” she chirped. “Not so humid and hot like a few weeks ago.”
“Indeed,” I replied.
“I am on my way to a meeting of the Geauga Republican Raconteurs Roundtable,” she boasted. “A storyteller’s dream! I could talk for hours.”
“Umm, that would be called GRRR?” I asked, with amusement. “Really?”
“Be serious!” she frowned. “I have several good political tales to share. Like a memory of the 1976 election cycle, which came after Watergate and Nixon resigning two years before. That was a difficult period, even here. Would you like to come along?”
“Sorry,” I apologized. “Have to do a story in Burton this evening. Writing about friends of the AMC Gremlin and Pacer.”
Carrie was dumbfounded. “Fans of those awful cars?”
“They exist,” I said with certainty.
She bowed her head. “Okay. But while you are here, I need to ask a question. Why haven’t you been writing more political stories over the summer?”
“My job is to observe local events of all kinds,” I answered.
“True enough,” she squeaked. “But what about a Geauga slant on the upcoming election cycle?”
I cleared my throat. “There just isn’t much happening here at home.”
“Not much?” my friend hissed. “Not true!”
“We have a predominantly Republican voter base,” I declared. “With a good sprinkling of trusted Democrat officials like Sheriff McClelland. It is business as usual, to use a well-worn phrase. We live in a prosperous and peaceful region.”
“But what about the growing number of scandals in Washington?” my friend protested. “What about cities going bankrupt?”
“Carrie, let’s be fair,” I observed. “Geauga is rather isolated from the political universe. It makes me think of an old science fiction movie. ‘This Island Earth’ it was called. Your GOP is successful here, as ever. But on a national scale, the party is in disarray. Unable to capitalize on woes of the opposition.”
She snorted with a hint of ire. “What about the habits of our current administration? What about NSA surveillance of regular citizens? Spying on journalists? The IRS going after conservative groups? Lobbyists flooding the government? The coming attack on Syria?”
“Nobody seems to care,” I retorted. “There is more talk about Miley Cyrus ‘twerking’ her way to renewed media fame.”
She shook her head, furiously. “Not true! Not true!”
Sorry,” I disagreed. “Even here at home, silence has prevailed. And not one national media outlet has covered any of that with enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, CNN recently offered a special report on Richard Nixon and his fall from grace.”
“Bias!” she shrieked. “Clear and obvious bias!”
“They want to talk about things like our economic recovery,” I said.
Carrie gritted her teeth. “Recovery? Bah! What has happened to my country?”
“President Obama has played skillfully to the voter block of union members and everyday citizens,” I reflected. “People who will never earn a big paycheck. And those on your side of the aisle have fallen in line. Look at the debate over war with Syria. Senator McCain is supportive, as is our own Ohio native, House Speaker John Boehner. There is essentially no opposition.”
My friend nearly foamed at the mouth. “No!” she screamed. “Take that back!”
“Across the country, in many places, you have become irrelevant,” I said. “Not here in Geauga, of course. But off the island.”
She shook her head.  “I refuse to accept that, Rodney! I refuse!!”
“On the maternal side of my own family, the blue-collar tradition has been well-established,” I explained. “Ever since FDR. Those people never trusted the big money patriarchs. With the 2008 economic meltdown, their suspicions were only intensified.”
Carrie snorted angrily. “Casting a ballot for socialism does not offer us a solution!”
“That may be true,” I agreed. “But your party has been indifferent to change. Even Rush Limbaugh calls its leadership a cabal of ‘country club’ elitists.”
My friend bowed her head.
“So, what purpose is there in writing fluff pieces for our local heroes?” I continued.
Carrie sighed loudly. “You could offer a bit of encouragement for those of us at home. Perhaps give some validation to what they believe.”
My face went red. “I am a journalist, right? Not a cheerleader. You set the agenda with your conduct. I just tell the story as it happened.”
She struggled to breathe. “Damn you, Rodney. Your words ring true.”
“It is time to leave the island,” I advised. “Time to ponder the political universe as a whole. Time to do better.”
The wind seemed stronger and colder than before. Fall was on our doorstep. The time for conversation had ended.
Now, I needed to get home to my office and write!

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