Tuesday, September 20, 2016

EXTRA: I guess governor wants all the credit for Bicentennial celebration

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday used his executive powers to create a brand-new commission meant to coordinate the way in which Illinois celebrates its bicentennial come 2018.
The new celebratory committee

The state actually already had an entity called the State Bicentennial Commission, replacing it with a new body to be called the Illinois Bicentennial Commission. One whom the majority of members will be chosen by Rauner himself.

NOW ONE CAN argue what’s the point of all this? One fact is that the state commission’s membership was created during the days of former Gov. Pat Quinn.

Now, when Illinois goes about celebrating its 200 years of existence in just over a year, we won’t have to acknowledge any Quinn contribution. We’ll all be able to worship at the altar of Rauner – thanking our current governor for enabling us to pay tribute to our existence.

Of course, it was easy to dissolve the state commission (that actually is Rauner’s description for what he did) because it really hadn’t done much of anything to help prepare for anything in the way of celebratory activity.

Maybe it can be argued that Rauner was preoccupied with other problems to focus much attention on such an initiative. Then again, maybe it’s now that he’s able to focus his own attention on the matter.

LET’S ONLY HOPE that it isn’t just idle chatter when he says, “the Illinois Bicentennial is an incredible opportunity to celebrate Illinois’ contributions to the country and the world and plan for our next 200 years of innovation and achievements. I look forward to the commission’s recommendations on how best to move forward to ensure that this will be a celebration to remember.”
Which view of history ...

It will be interesting to see what the end result of all this is. Will Illinois do much of anything to acknowledge ourselves and our history? Or will we be bogged down by the fact that one can say that nearly three years of preparatory time were lost due to inaction?

Part of my concern about this is the degree to which neighboring Indiana went out of its way to celebrate its own Bicentennial, which was this year. It seems you can’t set foot in the Hoosier state without seeing a trace of the fact that the state is now 200 years old.

Will we be able to match up to our neighboring state? Or are we going to get out-classed by Hoosiers (a fact that the Illinoisan in me finds somewhat repugnant)?
... will our Bicentennial take?

WILL THIS WIND up being like the 200-year celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birth back in 2009 – where Illinois’ contributions seemed more like an afterthought compared to what occurred in places like Kentucky (where he was actually born) and Indiana (where he lived as a child).

So much for paying tribute to the man who arguably is the state’s most significant contribution to our national political culture.

Unless you’re among those who for ideological reasons is determined to revere the memory of Dixon-born (but lived the bulk of his life in California) Ronald Reagan.

In which case, you’re probably more preoccupied these days with ignoring our Bicentennial AND downplaying the significance of arguably the second-most significant contribution to the political culture – our soon-to-be former President Barack Obama.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, I realize both of those films are heavily-fictionalized versions of what really happened Let's hope our official celebration can bring out some fact.

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