Thursday, August 30, 2012

Most Illinoisans couldn’t “fire” Madigan on Election Day even if they wanted to

MADIGAN: Soon to be "fired?"
It seems to be the common theme being touted by Republicans leading up to the Nov. 6 elections.

When they’re not getting all worked up over who they want to have run against Gov. Pat Quinn come 2014, they’re whining about how they want to dump Democrats from power come this year.

WHAT THIS REALLY comes down to is an anti-Chicago line of rhetoric. After all, the city dominates Cook County – which accounts for about 45 percent of the state’s population and an overwhelming share of its voters.

It is the reason that we have Pat Quinn as governor even though the Republican campaign of Bill Brady was dominant in the rest of Illinois.

So the idea being burned into the brains of many a non-Chicago voter is to think of any Democratic candidate as somehow being a Chicago hack (and I don’t mean a taxicab driver).

But voting against “Chicago” is an abstract concept, and one that can be hard to put into a catchy slogan.

WHICH IS WHY we’re getting the use of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, as a euphemism for all that is Chicago. That is why we’re getting all those “Fire Madigan” buttons and bumper stickers and t-shirts and whatever else the GOP marketing people can come up with to push their idea that comes across to urban ears as petty whining.

The “problem” is that we can’t literally “fire” Mike Madigan.
Worth your hard-earned money?

He can be voted out of office come Election Day. But he is so overwhelmingly dominant in the Southwest Side wards that comprise his legislative district that the bulk of the voters will NEVER dump him.

Even when fringe candidates try to stir up resentment among those locals, they fall flat on their faces. Mike Madigan ain’t goin’ nowhere!

THAT’S JUST A fact. The people who live there are probably proud (in a perverse sort of way that they’d never admit to) that their local legislator is the boss of state politics who can get away with telling the governor where to stuff it, and only occasionally has to answer to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

And when you come down to it, the idea of a “fire Madigan” slogan is quite trite. Because most of us don’t live in that legislative district. Telling someone who lives in Leland Grove, Ill., (just outside of Springfield, for those of you whose geographical knowledge doesn’t extend any further south than 119th Street) to “fire Madigan” is pointless.

In fact, many of the places where this “fire Madigan” rhetoric is becoming popular are places that haven’t elected a Democrat to the Illinois House of Representatives since the days of cumulative voting when people picked multiple legislators and were required BY LAW to have representation by officials of each major political party.

This is truly a matter of preaching to the choir. Getting the already converted to whine about the fact that Chicago metro accounts for two-thirds of the state’s people and is asserting that influence on Election Day.

PERHAPS I’D BE a little more appreciative of the fact that some parts of Illinois feel neglected if it weren’t for the fact that I remember the bizarre 1994 elections and the two-year period in which Republican officials held control of every state government post of significance.

We actually had “Illinois House Minority Leader Michael Madigan, D-Chicago,” for a two-year period, and the majority party went out of its way to run an agenda that was even more blatantly partisan and as self-centered around their part of the state as they now claim Democrats are doing to favor Chicago.

Sentiments like “fire Madigan” come across as sounding like a repeat to those bad-old days when we had public officials who seriously believed that the key to Illinois’ economic success was to put a muzzle on the influence of its only city of significance.

Then again, petty whining probably is easier to do than trying to put together a credible political organization that could actually compete on Election Days of the future against Democrats for office in the Chicago area.

DO YOU SERIOUSLY want to send Mike Madigan into political retirement on your terms, rather than his own?

Perhaps a little more of an attempt to appeal to people outside your segment of the state would get you some credibility – instead of coming up with t-shirts and lame marketing slogans that probably will give the speaker himself something to chuckle about on the day after Election Day when Madigan’s party still holds a majority of the Illinois House seats.


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