Wednesday, August 16, 2006

From the Far East to the Fairgrounds

I am writing this from Taiwan of all places, where I have been meeting as part of a delegation of Midwestern legislators (not at taxpayer expense) with Taiwanese government officials to discuss topics ranging from trade to education to mass transit. I will write about aspects of the trip next week, for now let me just say that it has been fascinating.

Until then, and on the eve of Democrat Day at the Fair (although since I am 13 hours ahead, it's Wednesday night as I'm writing this), and in response to several requests for this topic, I want to throw open a subject that I discussed about a year ago, but this time, in a somewhat different context.

Namely, just what does it mean to be a Democrat? Or a Republican for that matter?

The question has recently come to me in a couple of different ways. One is the reaction that people have had, pro and con, about Democratic elected officials who are presently not willing to endorse the Governor.

The second, and related, manner in which has come up is as a result of the lack of communication between the Speaker and Alexi Gianoullias, the Democratic nominee for State Treasurer.

The question raised is - where is the line, or where should it be, when there is not an alignment between party loyalty and substantive differences or concerns between individuals? Should one trump the other, and if so, in which direction?

When does one take a deep breath and take one for the team, or when is it appropriate to move from the party line? I could elaborate but I think that you get the idea of where I'm trying to go with this discussion.

I wish I had the time and energy to really go into this right now, but I just don't. I will briefly say that I think that our Party, any Party, needs to have some guiding principles around which it can unify in order to reach common goals. And to the extent that certain sacrifices need to be made for the greater good, then they should be made. At the same time, however, I believe that each candidate needs to be evaluated on their own merits, and that nobody should just get a pass based solely on a party label.

Since I obviously won't be at the Fair, you can feel free to tie this subject into whatever may (or may not) occur during the day there.

Because of the time change and my sporadic access to my laptop, it may take a while for your comments to get posted. (I am leaving comment moderation on because history has shown that it just needs to be left on.) So early morning (Illinois time) comments should get on relatively quickly, but the rest of them may not get posted until early evening (Illinois time), which will be when I am getting started with my Thursday. But rest assured that, as usual, all comments that are not inappropriate will get posted.


At August 16, 2006 at 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey,

My compliments on your global blogging, you get extra credit for the effort. To answer your question, in my opinion, I think that a Party is only as good as the members that belong to it. If we start backing unqualified candidates just because they are of the same party as we are, the Party only gets weaker.

I'd like to think that in major races, most people look at issue positions and qualifications and not just Party labels.

At August 16, 2006 at 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, let's identify the easy cases first. You don't have to support larouchies who hijack primary victories. You have to support nominees without regard to race, unlike most white Chicago machine democrats in 1983 and 1987 (although the late George Dunne did prove that such a democrat could endorse an African-American and live to tell about it).

One doesn't get to dirty up a democrat in the primary unfairly and use it as an excuse not to endorse him in the primary. If the implications of the ridiculous accusations against Alexi were true, there's no way regulatory action or even prosecution wouldn't have occurred. The bank did nothing wrong in the loans that received publicity planted by opponents.

I'll leave it to the more philosophically inclined to define what we stand for as a party; i just hope it's a big tent as there are a lot of us and we should be free to hold divergent views but support each other on the broad outlines of creating a just and free society. i don't know if we can do it, but i hold no hope of the other guys and gals being able to.

At August 16, 2006 at 7:39 AM, Anonymous silentk said...

Rep. Fritchey,

For the first time in 31 years of voting Democrat I must seriously consider a Republican choice in the Cook County Board Presidential race.

Not because of the stark contrast between the candidates and their qualifications to lead and govern, but because of how the Democratic Party - my party - ignored the voice of the people.

The manipulations, the horse-trading, the intrigue, hiding of information, stonewalling, and outright orchestrations which lead to the nomination of the candidate left a sick taste of bile in this voter's throat.

The Democratic Party must get back to the concerns of the citizens of Illinois. Because right now in Cook County the Party has abandoned all but its Committee Members.

At August 17, 2006 at 1:09 AM, Blogger Yellow Dog Democrat said...

A great question, John. What are the proper boundaries of loyalty?

But here's a better question: who cares?

Whether Mike Madigan endorses Alexi or Lisa endorses Rod Blagojevich is a moot point. Mike Madigan has said he's not going to work for Christine Radogno, and Mike Madigan doesn't lie. Barring an act of God, Alexi will be our next Treasurer.

Ditto Lisa Madigan. Does anybody think she was going to be stumping for Rod anyway? Whether or not Rod wins or loses hinges not on anything Lisa does, but on the seeds that Rod may have sown for himself and if/when Peter Fitzgerald decides to reap them.

Ironically, Alexi seems to be the only one handling this conflagration fairly well. I think he senses that he is a pawn in some other folks game, and he's doing his best to downplay all of the controversy.

Look, clearly Mike Madigan wanted to blow this up. He succeeded. And Lisa Madigan has seen not only some scary inside stuff but also some scary polling that makes her want to put as much distance between herself and Rod as quickly as possible. We should all be wondering what it is that the Madigans know that we don't.

Meanwhile, Blagojevich and Obama have completely over-reacted, making this an even bigger issue than it needs to be. They've guaranteed that at the drop of a hat, Madigan can generate atleast one "Rod who?" story a week. The amateurs have played right ino Madigan's hands.

A much smarter response would have been to totally downplay the issue.

Rod: "Why would Lisa Madigan endorse me? I haven't asked for her endorsement. Come to think of it, she hasn't asked for mine either. Frankly, I don't think endorsements really matter to voters. I think what voters care about is how I've expanded health care, strengthened our schools, and fought against George Bush's policy to export jobs to try to keep good paying jobs hear in Illinois."

Obama: "Mike Madigan wears alot of hats, and his first priority as Speaker is to make sure we elect a Democratic state legislature. He and Senate President Emil Jones are doing a great job of that, and I hope that's where they keep their focus. I'm going to finish what I've started this campaign season, helping elect new Democrats to the U.S. Senate -- so I won't be the lowest man on the totem pole any more (chuckles) -- and helping elect Alexi Giannoulias as our next State Treasurer. As I've said before, Alexi is one of the most promising young men I've met, and I know that we can count on Alexi to modernize the Treasurer's office and help us get our state budget back on track. The Republicans left this state with a huge budget deficit, and while we've made good progress, we've still got a long way to go."

At August 18, 2006 at 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Green Party's actually making sense lately.

If nothing else, they're hands haven't been muddied yet.

Will that change as they become more successful?

Maybe, but until then, not accepting corporate $, saying NO to the Peotone airport, and a whole host of issues which the two 'mainstream' partyy candidates are ducking.

The fact the governor refuses to debate the Green candidate for governor ON YOUR BEHALF is actually sort of funny.

At his point, I don't care who wins, I want to see some real issues getting discussed.


At September 16, 2006 at 6:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather than think about which party is stronger or "better,", I am amazed by the fact that voters and people in general in Illinois are seemingly able to tolerate the corruption surrounding candidate from both sides. Since I work in the thick of state government, I see what is really going on and it never ceases to amaze me that lying, deceit and the waste of taxpayer dollars is allowed to go unchallenged and ignored. And it covers both sides of the aisle at the Statehouse.

If voters and taxpayers really did their homework (and really cared about the governing of this state) they would be appalled at what they ferret out.


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