Thursday, April 17, 2008

On Miles and Vo

Since it's been so long since Greg "Rhymes With Hate" called me out about this, he may be thinking I wasn't ever going to say something about it.

Truthfully, the sadness that I feel at the self-inflicted destruction of these two men makes me want to give up on offline political activism.

Like John, I walked for Borris, folded letters for Borris, put out signs and worked polls for Borris. I went over to the Capitol to see him (on his dime, twice). I lobbied his office staff for Planned Parenthood ( ...not that I had to. He was a far cry from the once and future state representative on this issue -- as with every other). I was close friends with one of his local community liasons. In turn, I was humbled when he nominated and then presented me publicly with a community leadership award from the Texas Black Legislative Caucus in 2007.

I had no greater hopes for a politician than those I had for Borris Miles. I saw a man who was destined to become a leader in Texas. And I wasn't the only one, either.

Hubert Vo is a classic American success story, an immigrant who worked hard, built a fortune, challenged the most entrenched of powers, and won.

But both men have rapidly unraveled their political careers in infamous and and equally public demonstrations of repetitively bad judgments.

They didn't so much embarrass me as they did themselves. They let me down, sure, but that's far from the greatest damage done. Miles' political career is probably over even if he avoids a guilty verdict; Vo may still remain in the Texas Legislature although I wouldn't make book on it. The electorate has demonstrated no patience and even less forgiveness of ethical trangressions, and rightly so.

I just expect more from our side, and these men deflated those expectations. They failed themselves and their family and friends and thier constituents, and they have left a stain on the Houston Democratic caucus.

Thye failed a crucial test of leadership, which is a great loss for them. Somewhat less so for the rest of us, though still significant. It stings a little.

Personally I expect them to recover. Miles has precarious health, so I would prefer to see him concentrate on his personal life going forward, staying out of the public eye. Both men are comfortable financially and can do more to encourage other leaders in their respective communities to take the torch they have dropped and carry it forward.

And I am forced to be more cautious in whom I invest my expectations. Or hopes, or whatever you choose to call it.

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