Congressman’s view: When it comes to the right steps, ‘Be like Ike’ always guides me

By Rep. Emanuel Cleaver

On January 7, I had surgery on an earlier left knee replacement. Recovery is always slow and painfully difficult. I ought to know, I have had six big time operations that cut short my college football aspirations. Although, to be entirely accurate, the defensive back coach might have also cut it short – by cutting me.
At any rate, when the House is in session, my apartment in Washington is only 358 steps from the entrance to the Capital Visitors Center and the U.S. Capital.
I bless the Lord for my easy route to work. God, on the other hand, may have created a significant challenge as of late, just to make sure I don’t get too comfortable. Snow and ice. Even with my trusty cane, my first walk to the Capital was scary. With each slippery step, I heard the chilling warning from my surgeon, “Falling is your enemy.” Eventually, I made it to the dry and warm safety of the Visitors Center after several stumbles, but no major foot faux paux.
My return trip, later that night, was much more comfortable and stressless. I simply stepped into tracks made by earlier travelers. I made it to my front door in record time, at least for “Members of the Cane Caucus”.
It has been my experience that Members of Congress could do well to avoid dangerous and damaging slips, by walking in the steps of earlier travelers. I, for one, try desperately to walk in the steps of Ike Skelton.
I knew Ike well, he was like an older brother to me. With great intentionality, he refused to be nasty to those with whom he disagreed. As one newspaper said of his death, “Ike Skelton was the last of the gentlemen of Congress.”
I certainly hope not. An Irish poet and physician once said, “People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy after.” My model is Ike, who believed we should not settle for being “just” OK, but instead strive to become a real example of our vision of America.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver is Congressman in the Fifth District, which includes Ray County.

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