Mike and Floyd are long-time residents of Bowling Green, Ohio. Mike is a lawyer and a former chair of the local Republican Party. Floyd is a business owner. They both think that Bowling Green is an amazing community but that certain things, namely civics education and access to opportunity, have changed across the country.
On what makes Bowling Green special:
Floyd: I think we have a particularly good community, where most everyone is a good citizen. People do their share when it’s necessary and when they need to come forward. In another life, I worked in retail for a chain, and I moved around every year. This community works better than anywhere I’ve ever been. There’s normally a Democrat sitting where you’re sitting, and we have coffee every day. That’s what makes this community special.
How political parties don’t seem to matter in Bowling Green:
Mike: For a long time, I was the Republican Party Chair for our town, and Dick was the Democratic Party Chair for our town. I went to school with his sister, and we try to work together on a lot of things to make them better for town. Politics isn’t why we do it.
Floyd: The main thing I noticed as an outsider coming to town (over twenty years ago) is you don’t have this head-butting all the time. We don’t have the conflicts (across the political lines). We’ve had mayors from both parties. And it doesn’t matter. There seems to be the same thinking and the same goals.
On how schools have changed:
Floyd: We need to instill pride in our country. I’m old-school. I started in a one room school house. It’s a different world in schools today, and it’s not all bad. But there are some things I think we’re missing that I had. We don’t teach truthful history today. Everything depends on what fits a standard at a given time. We also don’t teach citizenship (civics) anymore.
What the focus of civics should be:
Mike: I don’t think anyone knows how their government is run. We could stop ten people on the street here, and maybe one would know who their county commissioner is. That stuff might be more important than what’s going on in Washington. It affects people every day. What does the mayor do? What does the city council do? It’s not political, and it’s not history. It’s civics. How does the system operate? I know they don’t teach that. My own kids didn’t learn that. They didn’t learn about school boards or town trustees, all these things out there that touch all of us. People don’t learn how or why these things work. People don’t know who gets the snowplow (and provides basic services).
Why the American dream is harder to achieve today:
Mike: It’s harder to find capital now because of the bank consolidation. Because of Dodd-Frank, there aren’t really community banks anymore. That’s who you used to go to if you wanted to open a store. Now, a small business needs to meet the same lending standards as K-mart.
Floyd: I used to be able to call the bank in the morning, say I needed twenty-five grand, and pick it up in the afternoon. They don’t do that these days. It may take more money to get started than it did before (and money is less available).