“No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity.” — James Madison, 1797, Federalist No. 10
Gov. Bruce Rauner is quick to judge those who disagree with him as “special interests.”
And to declare everything from the leadership of public sector unions to the Illinois Supreme Court as part of “a corrupt system.” It’s as though he, a wildly successful businessman, has never been a player in the systems of government which live hand in hand with the world of high finance.
Rauner talks gunslinger talk. Jut-jawed, quick-draw, cowboy bravado.
Rauner, former chairman of GTCR, made his hundreds of millions, if not billions, in private equity. A world that hires legions of lawyers and lobbyists to advance its interests and, when necessary, crush its opponents by means of friends in Congress and local legislatures. All oiled by campaign contributions, fishing trips and elegant dinners in mahogany rooms with cigars and excellent wine.
The governor has a deeply held belief in an education system focusing on the development of charter schools that compete rather than complement neighborhood public schools. Many of those charter networks are part of the corporate world he prefers. And they exclude, wherever possible, the union world he disdains.
“Part of the creation of Bruce Rauner,” argues Mike Gecan, “is the Machine trying to judge its own cause.” In other words, the forces of Speaker Mike Madigan and his Democratic super-majority in Springfield failed to see how they set up the backlash that brought in Rauner.
Gecan, co-director of the Industrial Areas Foundation — a network of more than 60 citizens power organizations in the US, UK, Germany, Australia and Canada, has written extensively about the divisive forces that are paralyzing urban America.
“This is a death spiral if one machine does its thing versus a market guy who does his thing. And there’s no appreciation for multiple entities in society,” he said on Friday.
Gecan, born and raised in Chicago, has worked for years in New York, which, he suggests, offered in the 1970s one of the best case studies of how to rescue a city and state.
That’s when mutual combatants, Mayor Abe Beame and labor leader Victor Gotbaum, put aside their considerable differences to work with Gov. Hugh Carey and investment banker Felix Rohatyn. Together, they yanked New York from the precipice of bankruptcy.
Amazingly, the labor leader, Gotbaum, and the investment banker, Rohatyn, forged a respectful and long-lasting friendship.
Better yet, imagine it in Illinois, if you can.
“New York,” said Gecan, “had a near-death crisis.”
Chicago and Illinois are witnessing their own slow death unless creative — and collaborative — forces gather together to work out their profound differences.
We are all at risk of being poor judges of our own cause when we cannot see beyond ourselves, beyond our own special interest, to the interest of others.
Every one of us, including the governor, is a special interest.
All trying to share a tiny space on the edge of the fiscal cliff.