Saturday, October 25, 2014

For people who believe that bipartisan politics means, “Do it my way!’

There are those people who watched the debate earlier this week between Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Republican challenger James Oberweis who think the key moment related to Oberweis saying he’d support gay marriage.

He didn’t actually say that (he said he realizes the political fight is over, and that his side lost). But to me, the key moment came at several points during the event when Oberweis stressed the significance of political bipartisanship.

WHICH BY HIS definition means people should cast their ballots for him against Durbin, and should also shift control of the U.S. Senate to the Republicans, while keeping control of the House of Representatives with the GOP as well.

Because, he explained, Republicans would then be able to push their ideological agenda without Democratic resistance. Then, President Barack Obama would have to legitimately negotiate with Republican interests on issues of significance, instead of being able to ignore issues because a Republican House passed something and a Democratic Senate rejected it before it could get to a president for consideration.

I find it interesting to hear someone say that bipartisanship means putting Republicans entirely in control of Congress.

Because it really reinforces in my mind the concept that the modern-day Republican isn’t capable of governing a thing unless the process is rigged in their favor. “Bipartisan” is the ultimate dirty word (or maybe just as filthy-minded as “progressive” or “liberal”) to these people.

I ALWAYS THOUGHT the ideal situation was to have a legislative branch of government that is split between the political parties, with the head of the executive branch being the tie-breaker, of sorts, for the balance of power.

Which is what makes “president” or “governor” to be the ultimate political prize.

Oberweis, obviously, disagrees. Then again, the only political office he’s ever been able to win is a state senate seat from his Sugar Grove home town where he is in the minority party. It doesn’t exactly give him much in the way of influence.

So this is all about Oberweis wanting to be a part of a political caucus that actually has influence. There’s nothing more insignificant than a freshman member of the minority party – which Oberweis has been in Springfield, Ill., for the past two years.

MY OWN IDEOLOGICAL leanings were heavily influenced two decades ago – the November 1994 election cycle saw Republicans take just about everything in state and federal government.

Chicago the city proper kept its Democratic officials, but everybody else went for Republicans that year. It resulted in Springfield in a two-year period (1995-96) where the GOP ran everything – and Madigan was reduced to “minority leader” who was blatantly ignored.

During that time, Chicago interests were made so secondary. The city was blatantly snubbed on so many occasions. It’s no wonder to me that city voters cast ballots for Democratic candidates so overwhelmingly. The current election cycle really is urban versus rural more than Democrat versus Republican.

It was the large part of why, when I cast my ballot Friday at an early voting center, I wound up backing Gov. Pat Quinn for re-election. And even Sheila Simon for state Comptroller – even though I’m not convinced she can beat incumbent Judy Baar Topinka of suburban North Riverside.

BUT BACK TO Oberweis, who has dreams of going to Washington, D.C., as part of a majority caucus of GOPers who will push their ideological agenda through the nation.

Instead, we’re likely to keep Durbin (whom I’ll admit I also cast a ballot for on Friday), with the real question being whether enough other states will feel compelled to dump Democratic incumbents for Republican insurgents to make Capitol Hill a GOP bastion – and give Obama serious headaches for the two remaining years of his presidency.

And Oberweis can remain on the Springfield scene for two more years in the minority party!


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