State Senator Ray Miller represents me in Ohio’s 15th Senate District and I feel obligated to start this post by saying I have the utmost respect for his service to the state and his long history defending civil and minority rights in my community and throughout Ohio.
In Central Ohio Senator Miller is one biggest names in African American Democratic politics. He’s a hero to a lot of people but his recent career has not been without problems. And with term limits forcing him out of office next month, and with the number of opportunities for Democrats becoming very scarce after the last election, I really have to wonder if the press release Miller put out today is really just a job application aimed at the Kasich administration instead of a heartfelt commentary on the state of political discourse in our state.
In the release Miller commends Ted Strickland for the exceptional job he did maintaining diversity within his cabinet, but he goes on to attack ODP Chairman Chris Redfern for lacking ‘civility’ and ‘dignity’ in his recent criticism of John Kasich’s all white male cabinet appointments.
I really do hate to say this, but Ray Miller’s comments are pretty damn ridiculous.
Every Democrat I’ve talked to in the last month has also noticed the same pattern from John Kasich: his cabinet picks are an exclusive club made up of only straight white males. And Chris Redfern, the guy who leads Ohio’s Democratic Party, has every right – no, an OBLIGATION – to point this out.
Chris Redfern’s job is to show Ohioans how Democrats are different than Republicans. And diversity is one of the major factors that sets us apart.
Within a month of being elected Governor in 2006, Ted Strickland had appointed Mayor Michael Coleman (African American) his Transition Chair and Pari Sabety as head the Office of Budget and Management. Weeks later he appointed Helen Jones-Kelley, an African American woman, to lead the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services and Mary Jo Hudson, Ohio’s first openly gay cabinet member, as director for the Ohio Department of Insurance.
And it didn’t stop there.
Governor Strickland made a conscious effort to maintain diversity in his cabinet, which is composed of 12 percent minorities and 50 percent women – almost exactly the same demographic breakdown as the State of Ohio’s population.
So far John Kasich has appointed six straight white males to lead his transition team and to be part of his cabinet. And I don’t expect this pattern to change much going forward.
I really do hope John Kasich decides to break from his current pattern. Hell, I’ll even write Senator Miller a wonderful recommendation letter if he is actually looking for a job. I’m sure he’d make a great member of the cabinet and would keep Kasich honest when it comes to issues like diversity.
But let’s be honest here: the likelihood of seeing any serious diversity in John Kasich’s cabinet – or in any of his appointments – is pretty damn slim. And this fact should be seriously disturbing to anyone who cares about such issues.
Moreover it doesn’t make political sense to give Kasich any more slack than necessary. We aren’t going to win over voters in 2012 by sitting back and pretending everything is ok. We aren’t going to excite the Democratic base by ignoring the fact that John Kasich and the Republican party have very different values than we do.
Call me uncivil. Call me undignified. I don’t really care. But I’m not going to sit back and let John Kasich – or any politician for that matter – escape criticism and slide by unquestioned when he fails to act on – or even recognize – something so important as this.