At this time of year it's important to remember what we are thankful for and what we can do for others.
At a family Thanksgiving gathering this year, Zachary Cohen a bright young executive in a family owned trucking business told me the story of meeting and mentoring a sharp up and coming young Republican from the Bronx — Ariel Rivera-Diaz.
Cohen's enthusiasm about Ariel was contagious and I could tell how much he wanted to help Ariel achieve his dream of becoming a New York state assemblyman at the age of 19.
A young minority Republican from the Bronx really piqued my interest and I too wanted to come to know — and help him.
This is what Zach told me about Ariel, "I first met Ariel Rivera-Diaz when I was interviewing students, at The Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics, to begin taking under my wing as a part of the high school’s mentorship program. The program’s mission is for mentors to help students in any way possible to get through college successfully.
"When I sat down to meet with Ariel, he immediately stood out to me as someone special. I could tell right away that Ariel was mature passed his years and articulated extremely well put together thoughts about his pursuit of better those around him. Ariel saw the significant impact of the mentorship program at his high school, as he told me too many students around him are graduating, but not ready for college and have no support system around them to help.
"I knew right away that I wanted to do everything in my power to help mentor Ariel throughout college and beyond.
"After Ariel’s first year of school attending City College, being a fellow Republican, he told me the struggles he was having on a daily basis with his peers and even teachers for being a member of the Republican party. This broke my heart to hear, as I knew how passionate Ariel was about Republican beliefs that represent way more than a single name on a ticket.
"I feared that the volatile political climate at the time would discourage his drive to better his community as a Republican, but to my surprise it had the opposite effect.
"Ariel rolled up his sleeves and joined as many Republican campaigns as he could, including the mayor of New York City. Not only did he take part in several campaigns, he is now telling the world that he will do what he believes in no matter what people say around him, by starting a campaign of his own and running for New York State Assembly. Ariel is truly a remarkable young man and continues to amaze me every day.
"As one of his mentor’s I can say with no shame, there has been more than one occasion that Ariel has showed me courage that I may not have had. I have no doubt that he will serve his community to his fullest capabilities with major success. And I wish him nothing but the best of luck and support a long the way."
Zach, is a young man whose family instilled in him the responsibility of giving back, and to help others. He volunteers his time not because anyone told him to. He does so because it's part of being thankful for one's blessings and returning those same gifts to others.
This is what Ariel told me about him, that makes him tick — why is he a Republican and wants to help others, "I am a Republican because I believe the strength of the people, not of the government. When I graduated high school, I was under the notion that coming from a poor household and the color of my skin automatically identified me as a Democrat.
"However, I decided to study elected Democratic officials in my county. I found that their policies have been closing the people from prosperity. The most vulnerable were unpowered, unmotivated and they were conforming to their dire state.
"I am a Republican because I want people to have more money in their pockets; more power over their lives but most importantly, more power over Albany.
"It is very impactful that more minorities have Republican ideals because that will implement the motivation to be something better. Latinos tend to be more conservative. When minorities embrace Republican ideas, they are further embracing their lives. They have control, something that our current State government fears. Latinos possess $1.3 trillion in buying power, meaning that they are focusing in the economy just like the immigrants in the 1800s.
"Furthermore, when it comes to the economy, Latinos vote on the candidate they believe will bring economic prosperity, which happens to be Republican candidates.
"We have to live with the fact that we are No. 62 in the ranking of the healthiest borough to be in. Therefore, making us the unhealthiest county in New York State. We live in fear because there are shootings every weekend, taking the life of a young person. We experience skyrocketing rent and eviction notices.
"Yes, our students are graduating but they are not college ready. Our tax money is not being used efficiently. I am running to end all of this. To show that change comes in many forms. We must show the people that Republicans can be a Latino and poor. I am running to bring back dignity and respect not only to the people but also to the county.
"To show that age is only a number. At 18, the idea of running came to mind and now at 19, I will be fighting for the people. I am running to show not what I know, but how much I care. Most importantly, I am running to win and represent the hard-working people of the Bronx because, they deserve better.
"I will bring my relentless spirit to Albany. Holding everyone accountable, for his or her incendiary behavior that is hurting this beautiful State.
"Bringing back focus to the state of New York will be my priority. No more petty arguments because someone did not like Trump’s tweets. I will bring a reliable and respectable voice to Albany.
"The State Assembly has been disrespected for far too long, it is time we respect the position. I will bring a new beginning, a new idea on how the government should be in New York."
Here, we have two leaders. Zachary W. Cohen for taking the time to mentor and encourage a young leader, and Ariel Rivera-Diazfor wanting to give back to his community while serving others.
Just when you thought you were losing hope in politics and getting angry with gridlock and partisan bickering, there is a beacon of hope renewing your spirit, reminding us that we live in a special place where anyone can do what they set their minds to do — with a little help.
Win, lose, or draw Ariel is a winner. He will no doubt have a very bright future. Yet there are so many others Republican and Democratic young people just like him needing both mentoring and opportunity. They are our future and with them it is bright.
Bradley Blakeman was a member of President George W. Bush's senior White House staff from 2001 to 2004. He is also a frequent contributor to Fox News and Fox Business Channel. He currently is a Principal with the 1600group.com a consulting company. — Click Here Now.
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