Morning in Cleveland

September 21, 2016

Morning in Cleveland

Who was the big winner at the RNC last week?

The City of Cleveland!

We were all holding our breath, hoping there would be no acts of violence or terrorism associated forever with the city and the event, hoping there would be no shootings at police or by police.  Instead, what we witnessed, were groups of policemen on bicycles in shorts!  Directed by their youthful black commissioner, they cruised from place to place in bands of fifty…smiling, engaging the visitors and demonstrators, separating rival groups before difficult situations could develop.

One of the national news commentators,  I can’t remember whether it was Brokaw or Schieffer, told a story about sitting in a restaurant near the Lake one evening when fifty police cyclists pedaled past.  All the patrons rose at once and applauded.  No riot gear.  No military equipment.  Just cops from across the region displaying their engagement, vulnerability and confidence.

In A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain’s time traveler constructs bicycles for the knights in armor, thereby changing the nature of warfare.   Will the pedaling-police of Cleveland change the face of law enforcement in major cities across the country?

In addition, the $50 Million renovation of Public Square was a huge success.  I have had recent conversations with local growers regarding the plant selection for that project.  All of us would have done it differently.  (I saw one mild clash between demonstrators that made me wish we’d sold Opuntia humifusa to the project rather than Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’.)  But the plants were only a backdrop for delegates, demonstrators, vendors and residents who engaged in civil discourse.  At one point, rival leaders were debating loudly on the subject of economic policy.  That is what a ‘Public Square’ is supposed to be about!  A single flag-burner in a sanctioned event managed to set his own pants on fire, eliciting cries of ‘Liar, Liar!’

When Ronald Reagan became President, America was in the doldrums, suffering from an economic malaise with double-digit inflation, hostages in Iran, four years of an ineffectual Carter Administration (whom I voted for!).   And yet his message was about a new ‘Morning in America’.   What’s more, he followed up the rhetoric with guidance and action that brought the country together and made us feel good again about ourselves and our position in the world.

Whoever wins the Presidency in November as well as the many down-ticket races, let’s demand that they provide some positive self-coaching for an America that remains united and great in so many ways.


Mark Gilson