The recently published, slightly edited column in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette was originally sent as a letter to Illinois Gov. Bruce V. Rauner and House of Representatives Speaker Michael J. Madigan on April 5, 2017. I received a perfunctory reply from a member of the governor’s staff merely thanking me for writing and nothing from Speaker Madigan.
I returned not long ago from a tour of Saipan, Tinian, Guam and Iwo Jima where I went with Military Historical Tours and the Iwo Jima Association of America to attend the 72nd anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the annual Reunion of Honor where the United States and Japan, once bitter enemies in combat, come together as comrades in peace to commemorate the battle that took the lives of 6,821 Americans, another 19,000 casualties and the lives of 21,000 Japanese. That war preserved our freedom.
Unfortunately, however, we citizens in Illinois don’t enjoy the freedom we should because of the puerile manifestations of partisan politics in Springfield reminiscent of schoolyard bullies for which Gov. Bruce Rauner and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan are the principal players in the resulting lack of budget, people and businesses leaving the state in droves, college students going to universities out of state, school systems throughout the state cutting programs and faculty, ad infinitum.
There was a saying in the Marine Corps for people like them: “Lead, follow or get the hell (there was a stronger word when it was as critical a situation as it is now) out of the way.”
The Iwo Jima veterans on Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima, now in their late 80s and early 90s, were able to follow that directive at the ages of 17, 18, 19 and 20 and on up without acting as these two politicians both do in their esteemed positions of responsibility. Where would this country be had all those men and women fighting in World War II behaved in the deplorable manner both the governor and the speaker are now?
Another adopted Marine Corps mantra and directive that has been quite successful is to “improvise, adapt and overcome.” The Marine Corps and the other military services and the civilian working men and women who keep the country moving smoothly follow that concept. The part of society that rarely practices that concept and leaves people behind, as Marines and others in the military and all good citizens never do, is many politicians like Rauner and Madigan.
Their arrogance amazes me. I first met Madigan briefly in 1986 on an elevator in the state Capitol when I was raising money and doing publicity for the Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial. That was just after a couple of us had gone to Rep. Zeke Giorgi, a World War II veteran, and got a $500,000 rider attached to the Veteran’s Bill so we could order the marble and get the memorial dedicated before year’s end.
On the elevator, Madigan was surrounded by his minions and had the arrogant and pitiful look of superiority and desire for power that the state has come to know so well from him. He looked prime for a blanket party, even then—in Marine boot camp when one of the recruits failed to measure up to his responsibilities, the other recruits threw a blanket over his head after lights out and delivered a few punches for inspiration. Of course that is not PC now, but once was all it took to get the recruit squared away.
Madigan’s personality and behavior remind me of the comment usually attributed to Sir John Dalberg-Action, the 8th Baronet, who was an English Catholic historian, politician and writer: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
That is not to say that the governor is any different. He’s got the power corruption thing, too. He just smiles more and tries to dress more like the common man. And he’s filthy rich, much like our current president, and just as arrogant as either Madigan or Trump. I’ve met Rauner a couple of times. Once at the dedication of the Chez Family Center for Wounded Veterans in Higher Education at the University of Illinois and once at the celebration of designating Champaign County as the “Birthplace of the Tuskegee Airmen March 1941” and the signs to be posted on local highways. Rauner was jovial and were wearing his campaign and political face in both instances. Neither of the men is impressive in their actions and the condition in which they have the State of Illinois.
’Nough sed. While this is mainly cathartic, I hope they both can do the right thing and sit down with members of both parties and settle this impasse. They owe it to those who fought and died for our freedom and to those living here in Illinois and depending upon their leadership, not their power struggle.