Friday, April 4, 2014

Losing Mike Rogers

A friend has reminded me, now that the state of shock has worn off, about what really matters in the 8th Congressional District right now.

I've certainly gotten carried away with the race to replace. There is plenty of time for that however, even with the crunch time closing in on filing.  

We've suffered a loss.The loss to the district and especially to the "bench" of the Republican Party is real. In terms of raw ability and knowledge as well as work ethic and a knack for articulating a message to average people, Mike Rogers is just a step above your every day candidate/elected official. Sorry reindeer farmers.

Everyone has issued the obligatory comments about Congressman Mike Rogers. Because it is common to do this every time a politician retires, no one believes the words in these statements anymore. It cheapens their meaning and robs the real individual of some much deserved genuine feeling and sentiment from people who really do care about his service. Because Mike caught everyone so much by surprise it made these comments seem even less meaningful than they should have. 

Of course we all wish him well. He has earned whatever rest and reward ahead. The life he has lived has been one of sacrifice after another, day in and day out. I had the unique honor of watching the beginnings of his political career up through that nail biter race win in 2000 and beyond, pretty darn close up. None of it was handed to him. He worked hard in every race. It is amazing that the race in 2000 did not kill him and everyone close to him due to exhaustion.(there is a news story somewhere about a female staffer getting a bald spot from pulling her hair out one strand at a time) Then there is being in Congress. Frankly, that must just be a horrible existence. Shuttled back in forth on planes. Raising money day in and day out. A thousand issues. No one ever satisfied. Not a moment's rest. No doubt a change must be inviting. 

If it is because the House leadership was not cooperative however, may that person die a thousand deaths under the hottest suns....

I have served as Chair of the Livingston County GOP and in the State House from Mike's area. People would say things all the time and they meant it-you could see it in there eyes-Mike Rogers was going to President of the United States some day. Not a wish. A bold statement of fact. They knew he would be Governor or Senator, that was just going to happen. Not worth much thought. The Presidency was going to be the end of it all. 

Now if you consider that for moment there is something rather remarkable about it. You see, people were seeing Mike up close. It is all well and good to have an image and idea of a hero far off. But here was Mike Rogers, in the flesh, an average guy from Brighton, not born into wealth, but smart, articulate and talented at your local Dunkin Donuts. Mike exudes patriotism, civic duty and honor. To top it off, he can tell a good joke or a tear inducing anecdote. 

Beside having my own children, the best thing I have ever had happen in my life was being taken under the wing of Mike's father, John. An extra bonus was watching his mother "the Queen of Brighton" Joyce in action. I know the secret formula to the Mike Rogers magic. He was raised by amazing people. That civic-mindedness, patriotism, honor, the jokes, the toughness, that incredible work ethic, the brains, the talent and so much more....Equal parts John and Joyce Rogers. Their gift to Mike and therefore to us. 

When I was leaving my seat, I went to see Mike's brother Bill and basically pleaded with him to run. Bill Rogers is just like all the Rogers...would do anything for anyone, anytime. Always it is about their duty to the community, the oath they take and to do the right thing. He has been a great State Representative and although I know he has been frustrated with term limits, he always stepped up to the plate on every tough issue that came his way. 

When I was first elected a Twp. Trustee at the ripe (and generally stupid) age of 18, I had pretty bad habit of voting with the crowd, no matter how short-sighted and wrong those choices were. Midway through my Board service, I had some sense knocked into me by a fellow Trustee, John C. Rogers. A former high school coach, principal and administrator, John Rogers does not go with the flow. He is one tough guy and he does what he thinks is right. He stands his ground-no matter how mad that crowd gets. It cost him an election once, but that is the price of duty in the world of John C. Rogers. For whatever reason he saw potential in me and began the mentoring. He has taught me more about life, leadership, people and tough decisions than any school ever could. When I came to the Michigan House in 2003, I was rated most effective legislator in the House in a MIRS poll as a freshman (not most effective freshmen-most effective House member..not bragging...making a point here)...about 99% of that is stuff I absorbed from John Rogers. But there is also that stubborn tenacity to do the right thing and to take the lumps. It is part of the Rogers creed and you can see it now with our Congressman on national security issues.  So it would come to pass that even they would all disagree so much with a decision I would make when I saw it as my duty and the right thing to about irony....

But I digress. 

General Douglas MacArthur addressed the cadets at West Point with these words:

"Duty, Honor, Country" — those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Congressman Mike Rogers has lived that creed. He has shown a strength of character and determination, especially in these recent years, on issues of national defense and intelligence to provide an independent clear headed path. He found bi-partisanship were it was lacking and principle before expediency. 

But before I get down in the dumps about the end of the Mike Rogers political story I was just remembering something from my foggy memory banks....

I know! 

There was this show called the GE Radio Hour that became the GE Television Hour...guess who hosted it ?



Sign me up! Brighton-break out the banners...this thing ain't over.....

1 comment:

  1. The thing I noticed most with Mike over the 13 years I've known him is how little turnover there was in his staff. How often do political staffs turn over? All the time. How often did Mike's staff turn over. Rarely. I can't speak for DC office as much although at least three of them were there seemingly forever. Most of the district folks were and are there 10+ years. People liked working for him. We all in the 8th District and especially Livingston County have a big loss here. Whoever replaces him has big shoes to fill.

    One Mike-related story I'll never forget was back in the 2002 debates at Howell High. I won't name names, but we both know these people. Mike Rogers was at a debate with Frank McAlpine. McAlpine was such a great candidate that Mike got votes every time McAlpine opened his trap. (Rogers won Lansing - the city - that year). At the debate, the gun issue came up and the issue was "ballistic prints." The ex-FBI agent said it was a dumb idea because changing the barrel would get around that. McAlpine ran his mouth. I was in the bleacher seats. One former elected official two seats away used my favorite word. "Bullshit!" The woman next to him leaned in and whispered "say it louder." "Bullshit!" Later on, the whole crowd booed McAlpine after he took a shot at Howell and several people walked out. Joe Carney wanted everyone tossed out.