Saturday, January 30, 2016

Can President Obama bring bipartisanship to Ill. Statehouse scene?

It will be interesting to see what spews from the mouth of President Barack Obama when he returns to Springfield to give a joint address to our state Legislature.
Has it really been eight years?

 We usually don’t get presidents speaking to our General Assembly members so directly, and presidents don’t usually deign to speak to people so low (but who think they’re all important) on the political evolutionary scale.

BUT OBAMA IS a former member of the Illinois Senate (1997 until he got elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004). And the Chicago Tribune reported Friday how the president will make a stop at the Statehouse in Springfield, Ill., on Feb. 10.

Officially, Obama wants to talk to his one-time colleagues (some of whom actually outranked Obama himself back in the old days) about how to work together to build better politics. “One that reflects our better selves,” the Tribune quotes a presidential travel advisory as saying.

I’m sure that some people are going to ridicule the very concept of Obama being the person who can bring people together. Largely because his presidency has been thwarted in so many ways by politically partisan tactics.

He is the one guy that some people of the Republican persuasion (and even a few of the Democratic leanings) will absolutely not listen to! What makes us think that that those people won’t get all worked up with their ideologue fervor to reject anything that comes from Obama’s mouth on that day?

YET OBAMA IS determined to make an appeal on his own home turf – the place where he was once just one of 177 legislators, and one of a few who represented parts of the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods in Chicago.

It would be nice if people would listen to such a message – particularly since my own thoughts and memories of Obama from when I covered him as a legislative correspondent and Statehouse reporter was of a guy who wasn’t the hard-core ideologue that many political people were.

In short, a guy who could easily compromise on issues.
How close did Barack come to matching up to the Man of Steel? Photographs provided by Obama for
America presidential campaign
Which offended his would-be allies in the Democratic and black caucuses who felt he was selling out their core beliefs. And the Republicans who would have preferred a hard-core ideologue of their own fashion in his place.

THE GUY WHO some people were determined to lambast as a socialist and a Muslim and an all-about terrible guy who would have been more than willing to work with them on their pet issues.

That is what has become the Obama presidential legacy, and also a part of the Congressional legacy for our current era. We have a government at the federal level determined to hold out for ideological goals and do nothing for now.

And with the status quo we have had in Springfield for the past year, it seems we’re going to get that same attitude coming to the Statehouse Scene. Whatever shall we do, unless we’re content to have a whole lot of nothin’ going on for the next few years?

So what should we expect seriously to come out of Obama’s trip to the Statehouse, which will bring to our memories that day some eight years ago when Obama used the steps of the old State Capitol building in Springfield (the one that Abraham Lincoln himself would have remembered as the Statehouse) to begin actively campaigning for president.

BACK BEFORE THE Iowa caucuses that gave his campaign an early jolt and made us realize he should be taken more seriously than John Edwards or Bill Richardson or even Hillary Clinton herself!

Will Barack have something serious to say about political bipartisanship? Can he become a voice who helps bring Illinois together beyond the perpetual blame game played by Gov. Bruce Rauner and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago?

Which could be the beginning of a process of bipartisanship for the United States of America as a whole!

Or is this just the beginning of the Obama farewell tour – a way of saying goodbye to the nation; a significant segment of which wishes they could pretend he never existed in the first place?


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