From a good friend, and a believing Catholic, on a Sunday afternoon...
If Pope Francis can announce that the 2,000-year-old institution of the Roman Catholic Church risks collapsing “like a deck of cards” if it continues to define itself primarily by its opposition to abortion, contraception and gay marriage, perhaps the Republican Party (both locally and nationally), might benefit from a similar epiphany.
One need not personally approve, or support, any of those three. But one risks irrelevance in the public square by ignoring the collective pronouncement of an overwhelming majority of citizens.
Namely, that they are content to let individuals decide for themselves their positions on these issues without interference from their church, government, political party, or fellow citizens. Illinois voters want elected officials who show a commitment to solving rather than compounding problems. Not insignificantly, the State of Illinois, like the City of Chicago, is insolvent. Both need to be put on a course toward sound financial footing, but no plans have been offered, no solutions suggested, no leaders have emerged. Governor Quinn is perceived as entirely ineffectual and both Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton appear content to engage in the self-dealing of retaining power for no apparent purpose other than to retain power. Neither has presented a serious proposal to begin to end the state’s economic crisis.
On the local level, no one yet trusts Rahm Emanuel. His failure to present a comprehensive analysis of the city’s challenges – including its budget, failing schools, and violent crime – and his failure to offer a detailed plan for addressing those challenges, makes him appear like he’s governing by the seat of his pants. He does not yet have reserves of goodwill – beyond being the strongest Democrat in a solid Blue State – to draw upon. His public personae as mayor has been defined by a heavy-handedness that make many believe he’s merely an ersatz version of his predecessor.
Whether the gamesmanship Emanuel’s shown with the Inspector General, his less-than-transparent Infrastructure Trust, the multiple unilateral pronouncements for or against new revenue (casinos, speed cameras, privatization of city assets), and his allowing himself to get rolled by Karen Lewis for the sake of avoiding a political showdown before a national election (as if anyone could conceive a way by which Mitt Romney could have won Illinois in 2012), make most think he’s not serious about making hard decisions to effect a comprehensive vision for the city.
Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, and Dan Rutherford have been defined by their “small ball” past. While the latter two have an air of being adequate administrators, none offers a vision capable of persuading either voters’ heads or hearts, or even that imply they might be effective leaders. They smile, they wave, they speak of competence, presuming that they could be were they the state’s chief executive, but they engender neither inspiration nor loyalty.
Today, from here, only Rauner looks like he might be different. But is he? Is he serious? What’s his vision? What does he propose to do – and how? And is he prepared to lead, to persuade, to set aside the polls and the pols to speak plainly, directly to voters to achieve it?
And as for the suicidal Republicans in Washington, how well did shutting down the government work for Newt Gingrich? By all means they should do what they can to stop Obamacare, but that’s done best by winning elections, not by giving voters reasons to fear Republicans will drive the country over a cliff for the sake of “principle.” All that that will do is delay Republicans’ return to power and ensure a long life for Obamacare.
I don’t know what Republican candidates and officeholders (local and national) are thinking. I only know that you are right that if the Republicans offer more of the same to the voters, the voters will give them more of the same. And neither will be happy.
No need to respond. I’m just being annoyed on a Sunday afternoon.
B -- One might say "B" is exactly the type of voter who seeks bold leadership from the Illinois Republicans.