To read Sheldon G. Adelson’s Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning is to resolve yet again that the Illinois party of, by and for the people, not the public employee unions, shall not perish from this earth.
It will not be easy. Abelson fairly and appropriately rubs our noses in our beloved state’s travails, noting that apparently President Obama wants to do the United States what his Illinois Democratic mentors have done to the Land of Lincoln.
We know this; many of us have noted it. In this presidential race our steps have been small –- one state senate seat here or a state rep seat there. The unprecedented concentration of Congressional
races, each with a strong Republican candidate, has been a marvel to watch, but their benefits will be in Washington.
The Democrat beast lurks, Minotaur like, deep within the Springfield maze. As the Athenians
needed a Theseus to slay Minos’ monster, our job is to find he – or she – who will dispatch the status quo and come back alive, so we can sail into prosperity.
We will seek this champion against the backdrop of an utterly disastrous 2010 campaign for Governor and a Presidential campaign which -– if successful tomorrow –- overcame staff faults only through the boss’ work on the night of the first debate.
We have the most courageous state chairman of my adulthood in Pat Brady. He has supported our
incumbents, defended our candidates and focused our vision (“Fire Madigan”) while admirably representing us in the press and at the higher reaches of the national party.
We have some generous donors. They make decisions both good and vexing. We have more young talent than I have ever seen. It is a product, I believe, of not having dominant statewide personalities whose organizations become demi- or sur-parties. Left to ourselves, without a Scott Fawell calling every shot, we have done well.
But we are not yet there.
We need officeholders who understand communications, messages, organizing and execution as well as their Democrat counterparts. We need a political plan to rebuild in Cook County without Democrat remnants posing as Republican officials. We need a political plan that not only elects the next Governor, but does so with a clear mandate to cut spending now hoisting an "Open to Businesses" sign.
As usual, we are several lengths behind. Rahm Emanuel wants to send as many of the city’s bills to suburban taxpayers. Mike Madigan is helping him do so. I have not heard this issue raised once in this campaign.
Emanuel and CTA president Forrest Claypool have targeted the Regional Transportation Authority.
They prefer a direct pipeline to suburban pocketbooks to fund CTA waste, not one that detours through a regional oversight board. Senator Mark Kirk, whose recovery appears to be progressing extremely well, will not stand for this, but RTA is a Springfield creature, and Mike Madigan’s son-in-law is now RTA’s deputy director.
The same is happening on water bills and Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago-only company recruitment efforts.
This is de-regionalizing the region because it is too inconvenient – and expensive – to address Chicago’s issues directly. And it falls on us to stop it.
But will we? For the last twenty years, since Rich Daley had lunch with Jim Edgar in Chinatown, thus
sticking a shiv in Neil Hartigan’s 49th ward back, I have been told by a dozen statewide Gopper hopefuls that, “The mayor wants me to win… I can take it easy in Cook.”
‘The Mayor’ – neither Rich nor Rahm – never wanted any of these cats to win. And they have the
losses to show for it. But we as a party bear the stigma of leaders who come downtown and get taken in by the big city’s razzle.
It is pathetic, embarrassing and self-defeating.
No candidate will slay a Minotaur if s/he is convinced it will produce votes. But the fact is it
will lick its GOP-blood-splattered lips long before it produces one winning precinct. The joke has been on us.
Theseus was prepared not to come home. His sailors carried black sails. Slaying a beast is nasty business, and it will kill off some relationships. It will demand fortitude well beyond that of the average Republican, Democrat, or officeholder.
But not one such lost relationship is worth what Abelson reports. Jobs and income, business and entrepreneurs, all have decayed such that Illinois’ children are already sacrificed to the
With the presidential decided, one way or another, it is time for our party to find its champion to do what we must.
If we don’t, we may deserve to perish.