Friday, September 20, 2013

My Faith in the Illinois Republican Party

A long train ride back from Washington, DC to Chicago last weekend gives a man time to think. And usually when I start thinking deep thoughts, I find myself upsetting people claiming to be Illinois Republicans.

I thought about poor little Joe Bfstplk, a character created by famous cartoonist Al Capp, who authored and drew the “Lil Abner” comic strip for some 40 years. Joe Bfstplk walked around with a cloud over his head that rained on him and only him. Everyone he came into contact with was somehow jinxed, inadvertently causing chaos and misery to others in his wake. When I think of Joe Bfstplk, thoughts drift back to my Illinois Republican Party.

I have faith in my Illinois Republican party. I have been a party stalwart and activist for over 30 years. My party has another outstanding opportunity to win seats in November of 2014, including many of those lost during the last election in 2012, where they also had multiple outstanding opportunities to win seats. And fell further behind.

I have faith in my Illinois Republican party. If Illinois casino oddsmakers are handicapping the next elections, put all your money down against the Illinois Republican Party. And laugh all the way to the bank.

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. Will Springfield super-Democratic veto-proof legislative majorities, thanks to the last (few) elections, leave us with Springfield Democratic super-duper veto-proof legislative majorities in November of 2014? As Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha!”

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. Extreme far righters who routinely attack Republicans who win elections, have made strong party inroads in various Illinois counties. Stories circulate about county treasurer or clerk candidates being asked their stances on abortion, guns, gay marriage and other hot button social issues that have nothing to do with the jobs they seek. Are these future electoral disasters on the horizon?

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. Moderate Republicans who routinely win elections in Illinois are again being attacked by so-called Republicans. Congressman Kinzinger? Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka, a favorite target? Senator Mark Kirk, another favorite target? How many Public Enemy No. 1 types can extremists have? Do any of them ever bother to level mild criticism of Congressmen Brad Schneider, Jan Schakowsky, Bill Foster or Tammy Duckworth?  It’s not in their DNA to even try to criticize Democrats.

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. With William Daley dropping out of the Democratic primary for Governor, it gives the four announced Republican candidates ample opportunity to attack each other instead of the problems overwhelming our State. Their supporters and surrogates will ratchet up attacks on fellow Republicans and forget about Quinn. Which seriously weakened victor will then lose Governor Patrick Quinn?

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. With the start of petition circulating season, comes political silly season. Former Congressman Joe Walsh has started up with his old expression that infuriated many Republicans during his very first run for office as a Congressman, “I’m a Tea Partier first, and a Republican second!”  Put a cork in it Joe. Take any other fair weather friends of the Illinois Republican Party with you into the political wilderness. If you truly mean it, make sure you all run as the Illinois Tea Party and not as Republicans. As a party stalwart, I am sick of hearing that blather. I know they can’t help it. They remind me of when Milton Bradley played for the Chicago Cubs, creating destructive problems and controversy instead of catching and hitting a baseball.

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. If some Illinois Republicans refuse to vote to defund Obama Care, causing a government shutdown, they should expect attacks by extremists amongst us. They never attack Democrats. Remember the last government shut down when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House and Bill Clinton was President? That stunt saved the Clinton Presidency and ultimately hurt the Republican Party.

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. If Congress fails to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, because “they broke the law,” rational Republicans who feel that our prisons will not be able to house 11 million additional prisoners while legal deportation processes takes place will be crucified by fair-weather right wingers. Build more prisons? Spend more money? Hire more law enforcement? Build The Great Wall of America? Forget facts, fair-weather types will attack Republicans who actually think about these issues and not Democrats.

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. Illinois Republicans who are pro-choice? Pro-gay marriage? Run for your lives. They will attack you instead of Democrats who overwhelmingly support those issues.

It’s time we stalwart Republicans take the party back.

While sitting on the train, we were given complimentary copies of USA Today, a publication I only read if it sits outside my hotel door. As psychologist Diane Medved asked in USA Today on September 13, 2013, why have both parties allowed their strident extremists to take over? Good question, doctor.

Dr. Medved notes that unyielding strident insistence on extreme positions brings failure in marriage, career and business. Stubbornness over principles with no effort to understand and work with other views causes isolation and feuds in every area of life.

Dr. Medved wrote that that being a moderate means that you are reasonable, you studied all sides of an issue, you reached a conclusion and then tried to reach a consensus with others to advance your positions. Being moderate means being measured and prudent in your behavior. Moderation is a sign of maturity. Caution and pragmatism bloom from experience, and allow us to function in society. Being a moderate once was considered a compliment.

According to Dr. Medved, principles undergird proposals, but moderation puts them into practice. Efforts to incorporate principles into action do not get far if you use bully tactics. As she asks parents: “Do you want your child to be reasonable, considerate and tolerant of his siblings? Or do you respect the tantrum-prone child who demands things his own way?”

I have faith in my Illinois Republican Party. Extremists who have invaded the Republican Party in recent years have taken a “my way or the highway” approach. Remember Tea Party candidates who stupidly asserted that raped women could never get pregnant? Other outrageous examples exist, all picked up and dramatically reported by the press. Those extremists harm our Republican message. They harm our Republican Party.

I have faith in my Illinois Republican party. If it is truly “my way or the highway,” or “I’ll take my ball and go home,” “I am a Tea Partier first and a Republican second,” then we will be facing (yet) another train wreck in November of 2014.
I have faith in my Illinois Republican party. A majority of its members will vote for another train wreck. Because some claiming to be Republicans will never learn.

Joe Bfstplk inadvertently caused chaos and destruction to others everywhere he went. The Illinois Republican Party by comparison has self-inflicted wounds and injuries.  And it only has itself to blame.

I have faith in my Illinois Republication Party. Prove me wrong.


  1. Louis,
    Being democrat lite doesn't win either. When Republicans try to look like democrats and not give the voters a choice, they'll vote democrat. When Topinka ran against blago, they agreed on so many issues, she was called topinkavich. And she lost, big.
    Also, if being a moderate is so beneficial, why did Bob Dold and Judy Biggert (and Mitt Romney) lose in 2012? Using your argument, being a moderate should have overcome the gerrymandering of the district lines and the Obama coat-tails.

    Conservatism works every time its tried. Republicans in Illinois will lose more in 2014 not because of Tea Partiers and conservatives "taking over the party", but because of "republicans" trying to look like democrats and conservatives staying home.

    Also, please refrain from generalizing the vampire one-issue groups with all conservatives in general. We're not all single minded kooks.

  2. I agree with almost everything you said. But one thing happening is that we aren't recruiting candidates to run for the Illinois House or Senate. Were are this year's Arie Friedman's, Jonathan Greenberg's and Joe Neal? Tom Cross and Christine Radogno have no recruiting game whatsoever. Once again I see the rehashing of old names - folks who have been part of the problem not the solution.

    Great things can happen for the GOP in 2014, but it will be an anti-Democratic vote not a pro-GOP ballot cast.

    The party needs the moral voters, moderates and Libertarians. But we attack each other with a ruthless vigor - leaving nothing to use against the Progressives. We are also an aging party with literally no bench. I'm excited about Jeri Atleson for Treasurer and hope Arie Friedman and Joe Neal stay in the game. I want Bob Dold back as my congressman and hope Adam Kinzinger or Joe Walsh step up to take on Durbin. Be nice to have candidates who identify with the Millenial and X generation. That is where our future lies.

    Be proud? Yes! But we need to get our act together.

  3. Louis, you took the train? Couple weeks ago my roundtrip flight to DC was about $270. That's not much more than my wife's Prius, but a lot faster!