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Monday, March 17, 2008

Illinois GOP's failures are so stunning that party must be rebuilt

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

Jim Oberweis perhaps should quit now as the Republican candidate in the 14th Congressional District -- former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's district -- before he sets some kind of record for most congressional elections lost in a single year.

If Oberweis stays in the race and loses, it will be the fifth time in as many tries that he has failed to get elected to a major office. Oberweis' ego has embarrassed the party enough; another loss in November to Bill Foster, who beat Oberweis in the traditionally Republican district in the the March 8 special election, likely will cement that seat firmly in the Democratic camp for many years.

Then again, perhaps Oberweis shouldn't withdraw, since the likelihood is great that party officials would replace him with someone even worse. Someone such as Alan Keyes, the guy who party leaders brought in from the outside to run for U.S. senator after the primary's winner, Jack Ryan, was forced to withdraw when operatives in his own party outed him for allegedly taking his wife to sex clubs. That's old history, of course.

The more recent history is the surprise that many suburban voters in the Cook County GOP primary got when they looked at their ballots and found a bunch of blank spaces because no Republican was running for county office, except for state's attorney (Tony Peraica). Some voters found no GOP legislative candidate or judge on their ballots. It has become so bad that Republicans couldn't even find the usual sacrificial lambs to maintain the pretense of the party's existence.

Most amazingly, the moldering Republican Party hasn't leveraged to its advantage the fact the Democrats are almost exclusively responsible (exception, see below) for our corrupt, bungling and tax-sucking state and local governments. Todd Stroger, Rod Blagojevich, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, the entire Cook County government.

How many opportunities do Republicans need to be handed before they cash in on the totality of malfeasances, misfeasances and nonfeasances committed by Democrats? The problem, of course, is that too many "Republicans" have themselves cashed in by signing on to the various Democratic feasances. It's hard for Republicans to define themselves as the party of reform when many of the party's "leaders" are on their backs waiting for their tummies to be scratched by Democrats. No amount of rhetoric will convince reform-hungry voters -- I assume some exist -- that Republicans are serious until the corporate and civic bigwigs passionately and publicly cut their ties with the likes of Mayor Richard Daley.

But wouldn't that be suicide? Isn't that the way we get things done around here? Yeah, sure. Just look and see how well everything is working. Governments mired in corruption that hits every taxpayer in the wallet. Governments confiscating more and more taxes to finance their buddy systems. Governments unable to efficiently provide basic services. Racking up record deficits. Dodging their creditors. Yes, you guys in the corporate and civic corner offices, this is a government that works. It's so wonderful, I'm sure you'd like to mimic it in your own operations.

Obviously, it takes more than being not-Democrat to successfully run for office. Which is why Republicans have to begin finding a way to enunciate what they are for. Republicans have been at each other's throats for too long, for whatever reason. It's a cliche to say that Republicans have to stand for something, but it's true. Republicans here stand for nothing. The only passionate ideas are found in the nooks occupied by the ideologically pure, whose causes individually aren't enough to add up to a successful campaign. Republicans need to pick something they are fierce about. They can start by finding out what they agree on.

But having ideas is no good unless you've got good candidates and an organization. E-mail correspondent Steven put it well: "I arrived recently in Illinois after 17 years in the Boston area. I was active, politically. The Illinois [Republican] Party is impenetrable to the newcomer. ... No reaching out; no organization; no desire. All of the worst that can befall a state party. This is a mess."

It's time for the proven failures who are running the party to, if not step aside, then build a major league farm system. That means support the promising, bright and honest young candidates with money, organization and enthusiasm.

Finally, it's time to recruit Democrats with a conscience into the Republican cause. These would be the Democrats who are fed up with corruption, higher taxes and waste. There are still a few Democrats around like that. Aren't there?


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I've come to the conclusion that Chicago voters have come to rely and appreciate corrupt politics and aren't about to change it. I don't have the statistics, but how many people city jobs, county jobs, state jobs with excellent benefits and pensions? How many work in road construction or in union jobs that thrive on govt financed business? How many people do you know who are excited to get thier kid a govt or union job through some kind of clout or payoff. People want the govt they have. Especcially in tight economic times, they don't want the govt to cutback in spending. They might have to go out and compete for employment. They're willing to buy the fundraiser tickets or contribute to the bosses gift ala George Ryan (a Republican by the way) to keep the bloated govt payroll because they or some family member is on it in one way or another or benefits from it. Unless and until the people demand a change or are willing to vote the hacks out, this is the govt we are going to have. Putting up sham Republican sham candiates is not going to change anything. Bobk

Stephen Schade said...

Mr. Byrne:

People have abandoned the Republican Party in Illinois because it no longer stands for what most people in this state believe. For all its flaws, the Democratic Party still believes in helping the oppressed and refuses to coddle big business.

Anonymous said...

I am interested in the party.
I talked with Peraica before and I'm impressed with his devotion.
It is scary, however.
The party is almost empty, and the shell is held by the elderly. My township chairman, Joe Hedrick, is getting on 70.

I came off the Ron Paul campaign.
I walked the district for Ron Paul. People had little interest for Republican Party.

On Feb 5, I was the only campaign worker from Republicans at my polling place. Democrats had three!

I made friends with two local captains. They were against the tax-hike by local school district!

Third Democrat was from a County bigwig to rally the voters for that corrupt man.

Now I'm friends with the two Democrats and we joined together to kick butt of our local school board.

I'm still getting in touch with the Republican township chair. I need credentials to hit downstate convention as a Ron Paul delegate.

by the way, Chris Lauzen would have been a better candidate for Hyde's district.