Friday, April 22, 2011

Politics about working together, not barking out orders to minions of Illinois

There’s a reason why I have never liked the idea of business executives thinking they could just step into electoral office – the fact that they usually openly admit a desire to run government like they do their business.

Put a cork in it

It doesn’t work that way. Nor should it.

ANYBODY WHO SERIOUSLY thinks it would be good for Donald Trump to become president and start barking out “You’re Fired!” to various officials the way he does to nobodies who appeared with him on television is even more ridiculous than Trump himself for giving aid and comfort to those individuals who want to perpetuate the myth that Barack Obama isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen.

It is good to see that even among the Republican partisans to whom Trump is appealing (only 7 percent, with 32 percent of GOPers thinking him completely unfit) in his desires to run for U.S. president in 2012, the billionaire real estate developer with a hobby for acquiring younger, and younger still, trophy wives has high negative perception ratings (one-third of GOP types think Trump is unfit to be president).

The last thing our society needs is a would-be dictator who thinks he can give commands to people to impose his particular narrow vision upon the world. Such a thought is so offensive that the most accurate phrase I can think of to describe such an official is “un-American.”

That same sentiment I feel toward Trump is the same that I felt some two decades ago when Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot went through his presidential delusions (some 19 percent of the populace thought he was fit, but not enough in any one state for him to get a single Electoral College vote).

AND IN SOME ways, it also is how I feel about state Sen. James Meeks, D-Chicago, who for awhile flirted with the idea of serving as mayor of Chicago – only to find out that his religious background that had always been his biggest plus in his narrow segment of society (African-American Chicago, South Side) was a drawback.
MEEKS: On his way out?

Now Meeks isn’t a business official. If anything, he may be worse, a clergyman. The reverend who operates one of the largest churches in Chicago came into public life amidst a congregation of individuals inclined to let him lead them.

The rest of us won’t.

That is what I really think is behind his talk to WLS-AM radio on Thursday, when he said he’s seriously considering giving up his political post and focusing his attention on his church.

THAT WOULD BE the smartest thing he has ever done in public life.

Meeks tried running for mayor, and also has hinted he would like to be Illinois governor. But in the end, the only office he ever held was that of a state senator from the far Southeast Side of Chicago, and some of its surrounding suburbs.

Even there, Meeks expresses frustration because one of the big goals he always wanted to achieve is something that will likely always run into staunch opposition – school vouchers.

Meeks sees the issue as one of getting some government funds to enable the lower-income people who comprise the bulk of his congregation to be able to consider sending their children to private schools – rather than being stuck in the under-funded and over-whelmed public schools that service their neighborhoods.

I DON’T BLAME Meeks for being willing to try something radical to benefit the people of his inner-city legislative district. I would think less of him if he merely wanted to maintain the status quo and ignore the issue.

But the reality of most voucher programs I have heard of being considered by Illinois officials is that they would only provide a small payment. The bulk of private school tuition would still have to be paid for by families.

And considering the thousands of dollars that a private school can cost, it is likely that the least fortunate whom Meeks claims to benefit would still be unable to attend such schools. Vouchers would wind up benefitting those more wealthy people by giving them a little bit of aid just because they’d rather ignore the public school system.

Our educators and officials ought to be worrying about improving the system, not undermining it. That attitude has been shared by a majority of government officials who have thwarted voucher talk.

WHICH IS WHY Meeks is frustrated. He couldn’t wear his collar and intimidate people into thinking they had to listen to him on this issue, or any other.

So perhaps it is for the best if Meeks returns his full attention to the Salem Baptist Church of Chicago. He may well still have a presence in politics, as being the man that government officials turn to in order to get the Election Day support of his flock.

His sermons may become even more feisty as he tells first-hand stories of the vapidity of politics and elected officials. But Meeks as a legislator has been unable to push much of anything through the General Assembly into law, and now he wants out.

Which is the same fate I could easily see happening to Trump should he run for president. He’d tell Congress “You’re Fired!,” only to have them respond with, “Drop Dead!”


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