by Chris Robling
Right Nation 2010 was quite remarkable, a high point for Illinois conservatives. I understand more than 5100 tickets were sold. I suspect there were close to 6000 on hand. Huge turnout that included swaths of friends from Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.
For its size, I think one must go back to President Reagan's last weekend before the 1984 vote, when he appeared at the Rosemont Horizon in support of Sen. Chuck Percy. I think that turnout exceeded 10,000, but it was Ronald Reagan, it was his last campaign and tickets were free.
Also, that was a campaign event for both (Sen Percy lost the following Tuesday to Congressman Paul Simon). Obviously, Right Nation was primarily philosophical, not a campaign rally for a given candidate.
The speakers were solid. A full dose of Beck beats TV squibs by a mile. His is an historical discussion, remarkably free of cant, dogma and ideology. It should come as no surprise that caricature from the libstream proves in person to be great distortion. Think Reagan in 1975.
Phil Kerpen of Americans for Prosperity praised Mark Kirk. Phil noted that due to unelected Senators, Mark is one of three Goppers poised to take office in time to thwart lame Democrat quacking after the election.
Mark's name brought a fair number of claps and only a few boo's, which I took as a victory for the capital-M Moderate. If Mark holds the conservatives, he will partake in what appears now to be an extraordinary talley and the Senate will be a better place.
By the same token, RN 2010 missed a bet on one level. Cook County cries out for the reform all who were there support, but the opportunity to focus on disrupting that stronghold of corruption slipped from the agenda. Surely, organizers cannot put every county on the bill, but Cook's role in funding Illinois Democrats via its property tax contraption should place it in a special category.
Huge credit goes to United Republican Fund, and co-sponsors Americans for Prosperity and others. This was a big coming out for their cadre that has kept the candle lit all these years.
John Fund made the point that 1978 started Reagan's ascent, 16 year later, 1994 was that of Gingrich and now, 16 years later again, we see another big wave. Thank goodness it is here.
One must also see that the conservative tide in Illinois, shown by Right Nation and the 4000 who packed the Rosemont Theatre to see Sarah Palin on a weeknight in June, is cresting.
This undoubtedly is in part because we do not have a pre-indicted Scott Fawell bossing the party around, or an anti-conservative Nancy Kimme encouraging attacks on a sitting conservative Republican U.S. Senator, nor for that matter a conservo-skeptic Jim Edgar, living in (false) certainty that conservatism is toxic brew to all Goppers who partake. (Time to note there are no known examples of moderates turning out by the thousands to rally for anything.)
Imagine, in Bill and Jason we have two top leaders who view the world as we do. They are thus are prepared in their anticipated incumbencies to be more open and welcoming to all facets of the party -- and beyond -- than others before them were to us. We have a new standing, and from this place we can disinfect and strengthen Illinois district by district.
Last night also showed the libstream fallacy of civil war between the Tea and Republican parties. First, I acknowledge that Tea partiers are of all stripes, surely not a wing of Gopdom. Democrats, stay-at-homes, independents, disaffected Republicans, it is a broad and diverse group.
Perhaps our early primary led to longer "cohabitation" of the two movements. But, realistically, we should note -- if a Fawell or a Kimme were calling the shots, the Tea Party would be outside the tent relieving itself on us and our gear. And our candidates would be suffering from another idiotic Illinois Republican failure.
Not so this year. Pat Brady works with Jack Roeser. Bill Brady's campaign welcomes the chance for Bill and Jason to appeal to Tea Partiers. Lee Roupas recruits judges of election with remarkable aid from Adam Andrzejewski and Republican Renaissance PAC. The movements are working together. Tea Party people are welcome in formation with the GOP because we have leaders who are dedicated first to bettering Illinois, not to Fawell's illegal fundraising or Kimme's petty personal score-settling.
No one who has suffered the years of such dim-bulbism can take this moment for granted. I don't want to get all Camelot-y about this, but EVERYONE who has read or heard, or who knew and loved President Reagan and wondered, "Why not in his home state?" should note that thanks to an aligned constellation of actors, actions and values, it is happening more now than ever before.
We must appreciate this is nascent, not yet inculcated, and deserves room to grow. It is also fragile. First things first: Bill Brady said even when polls look good, we must campaign like we are five points behind.
Cisco Cotto of WLS reminded us of that need in closing the evening. November is near. If we work hard together to win across the board, then relationships from the battle will strengthen our openness to all Goppers, independents, wayward Democrats and the non-involved that is necessary to prevail, govern and rescue our beloved state from Madiganism. It will also prevent the Springfield status-quo from reasserting itself at the expense of the voters. Or else the Tea Party will rise up to cast out our officeholders.
The city we will then build may indeed shine, but it will not be on a hill. This is the Prairie State. We will simply have to make its glow all the brighter, to be seen the farther, across the blessed flatness that opens our soil to our crops, us to each other and our lives to the heavens.
Thanks to all stars in the constellation that brightly shone in Hoffman Estates.