Perhaps the Democratic National Committee email scandal now will chasten more party members. Perhaps it will cause some inner reflection.
More likely, however, is that Bernie Sanders was given his speaking slot on the first night and Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced out, told to take the fall, so that Democrats could try to pivot quickly and move back to enjoying their attack on evils that bear the GOP name.
In the marquee presidential campaign, the top evil Democrats love to hate is Donald Trump. In Illinois, it is Bruce Rauner.
Democrats don’t want to think about or seem unable to acknowledge is that they played a large part in creating Trump, Rauner and Sanders. Yes, fame and fortune allow Trump and Rauner to play in the electoral process. Their wealth made each of them a force with whom to be reckoned. But each has been wealthy or famous for a while and each fairly recently met with success in politics. The Democrats created Trump and Rauner like Dr. Frankenstein gave life to his monster.
Last week, I watched as local Democrats clucked, tsk-tsk-ed and chuckled at some of the regular Republicans trying to embrace Trump’s acolytes at arms’ length, while others, including Rauner, kept several states’ distance from the Trump convention. They giggled at speakers screaming and pretending to prosecute. They smirked as floor protests got quashed and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz got booed. They smiled as Trump railed on, promising vaguely to exterminate ISIS, restore law and order, build a wall and make the rest of the world’s powers respect us again.
Likewise, in Illinois since Rauner was inaugurated in January of 2015, Democrats smirked as two dozen Turnaround Agenda items shrank to three or four, anti-union tirades gained no traction, school funding plans failed and an 18-month standoff ended with Rauner signing an unbalanced stopgap budget that only drives up our debt.
Thinking of it that way does makes it easier to see Democratic party activists’ cockiness. They were calling the Republican convention a circus — until their own emails ensnared them again. The emails indicated a fix was in. The system was rigged, corrupt and created at the start to conclude with a certain outcome. The controversy is about one Democratic powerhouse family hanging on to power, seeking to retain the glory and status and perks.
So it has been in Illinois for decades, with Democrats, like state party chair and House Speaker Mike Madigan, in control of the legislature and the mayor’s office for more than 40 years, and in control of the governor’s office for 12 years until 2015.
At the Democratic National Convention Monday, Madigan was taking no responsibility for the rise of Rauner, telling reporters blatantly told reporters, “I think that given the record of Bruce Rauner, which dovetails very nice with the record of Donald Trump on extremism, you’ll find plenty of Illinois Democrats that are anxious” to run for governor in 2018.
Make no mistake, regular Republicans also are responsible for what plagues their party. They rule over stagnation on Capitol Hill just as Democrats do in Springfield. Regular Republicans are the Igor in this monster metaphor.
Still, dominant, old-school Democrats, either through action, corruption or outright neglect, drive up debt and unbalanced budgets, ignore inner cities, spur rising college costs and the terrorists who target us.
Plant all that in a political petri dish and what grows is anger and despair. Anger and despair, fueled by the right leader or the right amount of resources, can lead to movements that might lead to change. In that way, the Democratic Party gave life to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and even in Illinois, to Bruce Rauner.
Who knows what might come of them? Some introspection might be in order. Those who laughed first last week might not be laughing last.
Madeleine Doubek is publisher of Reboot Illinois.