Is America Ready for Illinois Style Government?

In just over a week…

It won’t be that long now before Americans from all corners of the country go to the polls and cast their votes, finally watching as the long, drawn out battle that seems to have taken the nation by storm draws to a close. Perhaps it’s nothing as widely anticipated or as exciting in many peoples minds as the results from American Idol or Dancing with the Stars but then, really, what is?

Still, across the nation people will be casting their votes for President, for Senators and for Congressman, looking to the next few years and determining the cause and the course of the Republic.

Most of the polls, as the currently stand paint a picture, as narrow as it may be, of a victory for not just Illinois Senator Barack Obama, a scenario that would see to it the return of the Democrats to the White House after eight years in exile, but a victory across the board for his party. A return to a Senate under the leadership of Harry Reid, a return to a congress ran by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, perhaps with even larger majorities then they had when they left Washington to embark upon the campaign trail.

For Democrats it perhaps seems like a picture perfect scenario, one that they haven’t seen since the opening days of the administration of Bill Clinton, before the Republican Revolution of 1994, under the leadership of Congressman Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America, swept the GOP back in control of both Houses for the first time since Harry Truman was in the White House. A turn of fortunes that a few short years ago perhaps seemed impossible, a turn of fortune that a few short months ago seemed out of their grasps as they played out their brutal primary battle as if determined to grasp defeat from the clutches of victory. There has to be many at the Party Headquarters, not least of all Chairman Howard Dean, wringing their hands in delight, determined not to let this opportunity slip by.

But for the rest of the country it has to raise serious questions as to what this actually will mean for the people.

Well for that, perhaps it’s best to consider Senator Obama and his own background. A man who takes considerable pride in his political start in Illinois, from his days as a community organizer learning the backrooms of Chicago’s Democratic Political Machine, to his time as a State Senator serving Illinois 13th District in Springfield he often times points to that experience as crucial to his ability to serve as President. There he was present for the take over of 2002, as the Democrats took control of the State Senate and the Governor’s mansion, for the first time in 30 years, amidst the clouds that hung over the Republican Party and the scandals surrounding then Governor George Ryan. Among the earliest support the Illinois Senator received was from his brothers in arms within the state, not including the relationship between him and Senate President Emil Jones Jr., a man listed as his “political godfather”, helping to secure his seat in the United States Senate in 2004.

So what can be learned from Illinois?

Well, simply put, that the one party state just doesn’t work.

Every facet of political life in the Land of Lincoln is controlled by the Democratic Party it would seem, and despite the common ideology and the common party affiliation, government does not run any smoother. As a matter of fact one has to wonder at times if it doesn’t run a whole lot worse with them in control of everything.

Consider last years budget crisis. Despite complete control, it would seem that they would have had a hard enough time governing a playground, let alone a state. Rumors of a possible government shut down, name calling, infighting, and all as the people suffered. The drama, one that was perhaps more fitting for the stage of Drury Lane if it involved Governor Rod Blagojevich breaking out into song, played out each day in the papers and in the news, causing a crisis of confidence in the ability of state legislators to actually carry out the tasks that they were elected to.

The least popular Governor in the country, in part, no doubt due to the allegations of corruption and scandal surrounding the office, his low approval rating, hoovering around 4 percent, has been helped by the ongoing feuds he has had with his own party. But then absolute power corrupts absolutely and there can be little doubt that half of the things that the Governor has tried to get away with were because he felt that with his party in control of the state, a blind eye would be turned to him and his doings.

Now, perhaps Senator Obama and his colleagues wouldn’t be this bad. After all, more than representing the will of his constituents the good Senator represents the will of his party’s leadership, voting with Reid and Pelosi 96 to 97 percent of the time since he arrived in Washington from Springfield four short years ago. But still, it has to raise serious questions about the capacity of one party, especially one under the leadership of a man who made his name amidst a state party so prone to scandal, corruption and infighting as each of the big players vying for their share of control, believing somehow that their piece should be larger.

It’s a grim thought to be considered as we consider our votes next week but one that should be taken seriously in thought, especially when considering the man who, at one point, chaired the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, using that as his stepping stone to bigger and better things. A committee now known for their lack of accountability and their difficulty in telling where the money went to when questioned, a committee who, for all their large talk of reforming the education system, largely ran contrary to the measures of reform that others, in the position to actually implement change, where trying to bring about.

It’s just not a pretty picture of things to come if the Senator and his colleagues find themselves with the overwhelming control they are now poised to take.

But then just a few thoughts I suppose….

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One Response

  1. […] Articles of interest: Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Obama and the Supreme Court, and Is America Ready for Illinois Style Government are a few articles you should check out. I hope you’ll check the site out and give us your […]

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