Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When Brady Got Bunched

This should probably be my last straight political blog for awhile:

In a highly-contested race pitting two candidates nobody liked against each other, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was elected to a full term on Thursday. The announcement couldn't make me feel any more lethargic. Some of you will recall that I had a glimmer of hope for Pat Quinn when he was first sworn in two years ago; with one former governor in the pokey and another awaiting trial at the time, Quinn symbolized a clean break. If Rod Blagojevich was our Nixon, than Quinn was our Gerald Ford. Sadly, that comparison turned out to be somewhat ironic during Quinn's two years in office thus far. A man who built his reputation as a pro-union, anti-corruption rabble-rouser, Quinn has been a doddering and indecisive leader. He's still not corrupt, thank goodness, but he has a tendency to declare platforms without ever acting upon them. Quinn spent his younger days irking and hectoring the establishment, and now that he is the establishment, he doesn't know what to do with himself. What Illinois needs is a Superman, a savior, a mensch. What we have now is somebody's meshuggah old uncle.

As much as I disliked Bill Brady, I will give him credit for one thing: he broke the "collar county" chokehold. A Bloomington native, Brady had no connection to the strong moderate-GOP base within the Chicago suburbs. Since the Chicagoland area is far and away the most densely populated part of the state, and the collar counties house nearly half of Illinois' registered Republicans, the majority of their candidates have been natives of the suburbs or had strong political ties there. Jim Ryan and Judy Baar Topinka, the two cherry-picked candidates that lost to Rod Blagojevich, hail from Elmhurst and Riverside respectively. This year, when the suburbanites couldn't agree upon Kirk Dillard or Andy McKenna in the state primary, the two candidates cancelled each other out and Brady squeaked by with a mere 193-vote lead. This is not necessarily the fault of the candidates, but it's evident that the Illinois GOP as a whole is still struggling to get on the same page; the wedge that divided the collar county Republicans with the rest of the state during George Ryan's scandal-plagued term as governor has not been bridged yet. Brady dutifully served the interests of central and southern Illinois --or at least tried to-- but for northern and Chicagoan Republicans, he was their only legitimate option against Quinn.

When I discuss current events on this blog, I usually come off sounding cynical and exasperated. However, I'd like to think that Illinois' darkest days are behind us. From the bottom of my heart, I hope in spite of his narrow victory that Pat Quinn gets his act together. He's taken his licks from the demanding Chicago media and rightfully so. When two major newspapers that endorsed Barack Obama two years ago give the thumbs-up to your Republican opponent in a heated race, you might want to tweak your game plan. Stop putting your words before your actions, stop whining about potential tax increases, and above all work for your constituents. Even if Quinn sounds like somebody you wouldn't like, the Land of Lincoln could do a lot worse... and trust us, we have.

On a semi-related note, I want to apologize for my "teabagger" remark from last week's blog. Even though I had used the phrase in past entries --with tongue firmly planted in cheek-- certain people took offense to what some might perceive as a crude slang term. My facecious attempt at wordplay completely contradicted and negated a moment of serious political discourse, and I will be more cautious in the future.

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