* My Crain’s Chicago Business column…
In 2015, I wrote a column for this publication comparing the state government impasse to World War I.
Each side badly misjudged the other and blundered headlong into brutal “trench warfare,” I wrote. At the time, Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan were battling furiously, gaining no sustainable ground while they waited for the other side to collapse.
“Democratic lawmakers won’t easily abandon historical allies for a short-time Republican sugar daddy,” I warned then. “Moderate, pro-union Republicans would rather cringe behind the first GOP governor in 12 years than make nice with the Democrats who stuck it to them during their years in the political wilderness.
“And so, like the awful war a hundred years ago, this battle likely will continue until one side finally has had enough. God help us all.”
She didn’t. The impasse was brutal and ugly, and the effects will be felt for years to come.
The problem with the Great War’s end is that core issues weren’t resolved and new resentments built during a bitter peace. And, so, when Rauner’s Republican support partially collapsed in the Illinois House (and, to a lesser extent, in the Senate) and a bipartisan budget and tax hike were passed over his vetoes, it ended one war but created a hostile environment for the next.
Rauner completely controls the Illinois Republican Party, and it issued a dire warning to the 10 House Republicans and one GOP senator who voted to override the governor’s vetoes, all but promising to field primary opponents against them.
“I am confident voters will hold those politicians accountable for choosing Mike Madigan over the people of Illinois,” party Chairman Tim Schneider said after the successful override votes. That doesn’t sound like a vanquished side to me.
And days later, Rauner swept out his top staff and replaced them with hotshot executives from hardcore anti-tax “think tanks” like the Illinois Policy Institute.
World War II has begun.
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