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One war ends and another begins

Monday, Jul 17, 2017

* 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.

Click here to read the rest before commenting please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

34 Comments
  1. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 7:48 am:

    Sen Brady. Schools will open this fall. You, nor the governor have enough gall to prevent hs football from happening.

    OW. Need your help. Staying in St. CHARLES Thursday. Nice place to eat with good sightlines. Preferably outdoors. Suggestions?


  2. - PublicServant - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:09 am:

    ===If Rauner loses (in 2018), he’s out of the game.===

    His money will still be in it, buying off Republican/Raunerite “representatives” of the people.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:16 am:

    - Blue dog dem -

    St. Charles has a number of great places. What are you looking for? Pub or casual dining? More “formal” dining? Coopers Hawk or The Office. I have no idea your taste either.

    To the Post,

    I’d like to think the premise of holding schoolchildren and the schools in members’ districts would be too much to bare for rational members of any General Assembly. I guess if the goal is to win, versus good policy and politics to get that policy, then again holding children hostage for ideology makes sense to the callous and the cold.

    I’m not saying Leader Brady is either. I am saying this plan isn’t all his making or choosing, but it’s a plan Raunerism demands. This IPI bent, I’d start looking to my left, glancing to my right. The IPI reach is very extensive now, probably more infiltrating than it might first appear. It would be… silly… to think that the IPI won’t leverage those own old IPI connections now, with the rational leaders of Rauner’s Crew sent packing.

    It’s like these former IPI folks have been waiting for the Mother Ship to take over, and now it will be “their turn” to be the voice they’ve muted themselves.

    I’m a Republican, not a Raunerite. I’m not an IPI disciple by any measurable rubric, nor am I a phony “Democrat” seizing Bruce with “no social agenda” and seeing business decisions to include bringing in the IPI as the answer to the new dynamic after (gasp) a budget was crafted with thoughtful GOP members helping with their votes.

    I say that, because understanding the new “Raunerism” is really the old Raunerism… without adult governing supervision.

    We let a stranger in our house. This stranger and his wife are destroying the dishes, ripping out the plumbing, knocking down bearing weight walls… and Bruce is happy to go these next steps.

    The IPI influence will be not only to encourage this “remodel” but the demolish the governing house as rapidly as possible, and that may include seeing how many schools can handle a shutdown that the RaunerS seemingly want to badly.

    At some point, when occupants destroy a house, your house, these strangers make this house uninhabitable. A new house is inevitable.

    Are Diana and Bruce builders or demolitionists?

    We might know come SB1.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:23 am:

    Rich,

    Thanks, in this column, for explaining the next steps, and to make clear, it’s over “for about 15 minutes”, but the real end game war is only just beginning.


  5. - Me Again - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:27 am:

    Once again the legislature will have to run the state, all by themselves. They should go ahead and remove this Governor from office, just like they did with Blago.


  6. - Anony - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:38 am:

    What happens if Rauner wins narrowly, and the Dems hold the both houses by similar margins they have today? Will it all come down to a coin flip to draw the new map in 2020?


  7. - Juvenal - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:43 am:

    The Raunerites have a plan, it just is not a very good one.

    They are fighting wars on multiple fronts: Springfield, Chicago, and to lesser extents in DC, municipalities, park districts, and other units of government across the whole state.

    Starving Chicago to force surrender will not work. Did Russia surrender? No.

    Downstate school districts will starve first, and newspapers and business owners in those communities are going to blame Raunerism.

    Heaven help Bruce Rauner and the GOP if CPS does not reopen after Christmas break…if CPS is closed, parents do not return to work, and if parents do not return to work, the state’s economy…stops.

    Great column, Rich.


  8. - Madame DeFarge - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:45 am:

    Should Rauner/IPI defeat all the “Yes” votes in the primary or discourage them from seeking reelection they will become total free agents. Should they try and fail to take out a sizeable number the door is open.


  9. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:46 am:

    SB-1 only works if it transforms the majority of school funding to state responsibility. FOR EVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT. Whatever genius thought the concept of local funding should be …… allowing COLA tax increases w/o voter consent is criminal. Sneaking tax increases on low voter turnout elections is criminal. Scare tactics like eliminating football and band are criminal.


  10. - Anon - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:50 am:

    Since at this point the comparison kind of leaves Rauner stuck being Germany in the analogy, there is something that one can compare the coming Republican primaries to in post WWI history.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Revolution_of_1918%E2%80%9319


  11. - the Patriot - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:51 am:

    Nice piece.

    Unfortunately if the War is the k-12 funding issue, it is going to be more WWI trench war. Districts will open. The contracts and obligations are in place and most don’t have unemployment insurance. You are going to pay everyone anyway, so they will open.

    Most hear have about 100 days of operating cash on hand. The new year may be when this blows up.

    Finally, I begin my Plea for Senator Brady to Challenge Rauner in the primary. Yes, lunacy. But standing in the gym next November choosing between Rauner and another Chicago Democrat who is going to go back into 4 years of deficit spending to promote the Madigan Agenda is no less insane.

    I supported Brady in two prior elections and his lack of charisma did him in. Seems like he is more pointed and edgy now.

    #draftbillbrady2018.


  12. - the Patriot - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:52 am:

    =I hear=


  13. - Flapdoodle - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:58 am:

    For ideologues, it’s always an End Game scenario in which destruction doesn’t matter so long as it’s righteous destruction. For highly competitive egocentrics, being thwarted produces rage and a thirst for revenge. Put all this into one person and the mix is incredibly volatile.

    Meet our governor . . . . Some commenters on this blog have been saying for quite a while that these are the governor’s true colors. Kudos to them for their insight.

    How can you negotiate governing with someone who would rather destroy than govern?


  14. - Huh? - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:15 am:

    “How can you negotiate governing with someone who would rather destroy than govern?”

    You don’t. You override the vetoes.


  15. - Pot and the kettle - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:28 am:

    Every time a jab at the lack of experience of the incoming team is made, please be sure to point out the lack of qualifications the outgoing folks and circle has had in many of their promoted positions.


  16. - morningstar - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:39 am:

    To extend your WWI analogy, the IPI appears to be the poison gas creeping across the landscape, inhaled by those who are not paying attention, and bringing indiscriminate destruction — now and years later.


  17. - Norseman - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:42 am:

    Historically, there was an intervening period for the nations to grow new cannon fodder. Our WW I just ended. There will be no time to recover.

    Our only hope is for the GOP legislators who did the right thing to continue defying Rauner. Unfortunately, the vilification of them, threats and punishments make this likelihood unlikely.

    Sigh.


  18. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 9:46 am:

    I think we’ll see squeeze the beast by other means as Rauner lets slip his reactionary dogs of war within the executive branch.

    You can do a lot of damage from the inside if that is your objective.

    I imagine JCAR and the courts will be the battlegrounds in coming months.


  19. - Arsenal - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:04 am:

    ==I imagine JCAR and the courts will be the battlegrounds in coming months.==

    From my experience, they’re going to need to work on their swing quite. a. bit. with JCAR.


  20. - Nick Name - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:09 am:

    “I imagine JCAR and the courts will be the battlegrounds in coming months.”

    If all six Republicans on JCAR vote as told by Rauner, it won’t be much of a battleground and a lot of bad rules could get through.


  21. - winners and losers - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:19 am:

    Dangerous to attempt to give Rauner no alternative.

    AP: Dems in SB 1 putting Rauner “in a box” and saying “There’s no booby trap.”

    As Rich just stated: “Senate Republican leader Bill Brady let the cat out of the bag to his hometown newspaper July 13 when he said the school funding reform bill is “a leverage point we have that we hope we can use to get the reforms that were on the table.”

    “In other words, Brady appears to want Rauner to cut off state aid to schools until the Democrats agree to pension reform and even a property tax freeze and changes in workers’ compensation. It’s unclear where Rauner stands.

    “The prospect of hundreds of schools not opening after summer break would be the greatest political showdown ever in this state.”

    I cannot see how Rauner caves entirely.

    How can he not fight in every way possible against a bill that he had repeatedly stated was a “bailout” for Chicago schools?


  22. - RNUG - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:31 am:

    == We let a stranger in our house. This stranger and his wife are destroying the dishes, ripping out the plumbing, knocking down bearing weight walls ==

    -OW-, why did “Gypsies in the Palace” just pop into my mind … except I don’t think there will be a clean-up.


  23. - Quiet Sage - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:46 am:

    The firing or resignation of the entire governor’s top staff was certainly the Blitz of this new war. Because of its excellent staff, the Rauner administration Part I was still a recognizably familiar Illinois government which could still be compared to past governorships. The structure of the executive branch has now almost instantly changed to something entirely new and unprecedented.


  24. - Anon - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    It really seems wild that schools opening this fall wasn’t already firmly decided with the budget. It shows just how much control the governor has lost in the past two years.


  25. - Arock - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    The legislature passed a one year budget that doesn’t solve the long term problems but once again kicks the can down the road. They also have no real plans in the works to address any of the long term fixes that need to be addressed and the interest owed to the growing pension debt will continue to consume more of the yearly budget. But anyone that thinks outside of the lefts boxed up ideas doesn’t have a clue. The system has been broken for decades people it is time to do some drastic things to fix the problems.


  26. - wordslinger - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    Arock, in light of Supreme Court rulings interpreting the Constitution, what is your razzle dazzle plan for walking away from any of the pension liability?

    Keep in mind, police powers, sloganeering, wishful thinking and magic beans have already been attempted.

    And why should an annual budget be held hostage to such pipe dreams, anyway?


  27. - bored now - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    terrific historical analogy, rich…


  28. - RNUG - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    Only thing I would add is there was about 30 years of respite / rebuilding between the two wars.

    Here, we didn’t have 30 days …


  29. - Flapdoodle - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 1:26 pm:

    ==“How can you negotiate governing with someone who would rather destroy than govern?”
    You don’t. You override the vetoes.==
    As Norseman 9:42 says, overriding vetoes depends on GOP votes that may be in short supply once the guv’s newly installed battle buddies start cranking up the heat.


  30. - Harry - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 1:35 pm:

    Good column and a good metaphor, but recall that WW2 was followed by a Cold War that lasted another 45 years.

    It is not a given that a Rauner victory would be followed by a Democratic surrender. 1945 saw Germany and Japan utterly destroyed as independent nations. A Rauner victory in 2018 will not utterly destroy the Democratic Party and its sources of support. It probably won’t flip either House to GOP control. It may not even be the end of MJM’s rule as Speaker


  31. - Mike Royko - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 3:11 pm:

    While I like to think term limits would help ease the trench warfare lines of battle it probably would only move the battle to another dimension. Still I’d like to see Illinois adopt term limits, not sure of the downside.


  32. - anon2 - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 5:10 pm:

    === Our only hope is for the GOP legislators who did the right thing to continue defying Rauner. Unfortunately, the vilification of them, threats and punishments make this likelihood unlikely.===

    The GOP Profiles in Courage are going to face brutal primaries. Even if they survive, lots of hardcore GOP voters may be reluctant to vote for the “traitors” in the fall.

    In short, what incentive do these 11 Republicans have to revert to Rauner mushrooms, since they’re going to get the Proft keelhauling anyway? For some of them, their best options are either retirement or doing the unthinkable…


  33. - Odysseus - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 8:35 pm:

    “While I like to think term limits would help ease the trench warfare lines of battle it probably would only move the battle to another dimension.”

    Your conclusion is correct. Term limits are a terrible idea, and we don’t have to guess at their effects. They devolve power from elected officials onto unelected career bureaucrats.


  34. - RNUG - Monday, Jul 17, 17 @ 10:33 pm:

    == They devolve power from elected officials onto unelected career bureaucrats. ==

    And lobbyists …


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