The commentary below has been updated from its original August 28, 2013 posting to Saturn’s Repository, as well as its August 30 posting to Independent Political Report. Excerpts from Saturn’s Repository’s May 17 post “‘America’s Councilman’ Leaves Office” have been included where appropriate.
With over 16 years of service as Minerva Village Councilman and Deputy Mayor, free speech advocate Phil Davison has more legislative experience than the man the nation elected as president in 2008. Despite his political history, Davison did not gain notice until delivering one of the most impassioned speeches in recent memory. Now, as he considers higher office, a new moniker combines his fame with his political qualifications. Meet Phil Davison, America’s Councilman.
Though it may be a bit of a stretch to equate the Minerva Village Council with the Illinois and U.S. Senates, Davison’s 16 year tenure tops Barack Obama’s 11 years of legislative experience. In addition, the specifics of Davison’s legislative history bests Obama’s. Whereas Obama excessively voted “present” in the Illinois Senate and spent half of his U.S. Senate career running for president, Davison took a sensible and responsive approach to governance. For example:
- When the issue of property vandalism came before the council, rather than seeing it like his contemporaries as an enforcement issue, Davison focused on the underlying cause of the vandalism: youth’s “idle time.”
- When an historical hotel was slated to be destroyed, Davison acted upon the concerns of his constituents and framed the matter as an obligation to preserve history. The hotel still stands.
- When a noise ordinance was proposed in Minerva, Davison raised concerns nobody else considered such as the individual rights of residents, “how noise will be monitored, who will do the monitoring, and how much [it] will cost to train people to monitor.”
Despite their differences in governance, Davison and Obama do share some important commonalities. While both served significant time in legislative bodies, both caused media frenzies after delivering monumental speeches, which allowed both to reach levels of celebrity unmatched by their peers.
After delivering the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Obama became a household name. Had he not delivered that speech, he would not have been able to mount a successful presidential campaign in 2008. Davison’s fiery oratory before the Stark County Republican Party in 2010 was the sole reason he became a viral sensation. Had he not delivered that speech, there would be no discussion about him possibly running for president in 2016.
Though Davison remains obscure in comparison to Obama, he has attained a level of notoriety unheard of for a village councilman. In addition to the millions around the world who watched his inspirational speech on YouTube, millions more witnessed his general likability in interviews with Good Morning America and Tosh.0. At this moment, it is safe to say Phil Davison is the most well-known councilman in the U.S.
Combining performance with notoriety, like “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani, Davison stands as America’s Councilman. While bad campaign strategy cost Giuliani his opportunity to take advantage of his national standing in 2008, with proper skill, Davison can use his standing to achieve on a smaller scale in 2016.
If Davison seeks the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential nomination, he can go far, on three conditions:
- he brings forth the same passion displayed in his 2010 speech and the same likability shown in interviews;
- he stands above the field as the strongest advocate for free speech; and
- he proves himself more politically qualified than Barack Obama in 2008, branding himself as America’s Councilman.