Monday, March 13, 2006
ProudlySome Would Say DefiantlyThis Blog Supports Jim Oberweis for the Republican Nomination for Governor of Illinois
There are three major reasons and one subordinate albeit still very important one. Here are the major reasons: First, Jim Oberweis, the entrepreneur who took a family dairy business and greatly expanded it and who built from the ground up a thriving investment analysis business which has won plaudits for calling the economic future right on the money is the best equipped candidate for governor in 42 years when Charles Percy ran and lost to the ultimately indicted and convicted Otto Kerner. If elected, Oberweis could be the most innovative governor in 89 years, since Republican Frank Lowden [1917-21] became a national icon and prospective presidential candidate in 1920. Judging him on a scale of reformers, Jim Oberweis ideas are as revolutionary for today as Gov. Lowdens were to a tired, World War I-era state government infested with patronage abuse and corruption. The Oberweis-Lowden comparison is apt.
Indeed, Oberweis career resembles Lowdens in mostbut not allrespects. Lowden had several careers: that of a prominent Chicago lawyer, a downstate farmer who applied modern techniques to agriculture and a major advocate of conservation for the nations farms; also who worked for primary elections instead of boss-driven ones and blazed the way for the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. Oberweis took a modest family dairy business and built it into a statewide winner; then formed an investment analysis firm that has won national recognition for pegging the economic trends right on the money.
Lowden took a tired, inefficient World War I-era state government, reorganized it and wrote a civil administrative code that abolished 125 agencies and regrouped state services into nine departmentsprompting 14 states to copy his idea plus the U. S. government which adopted his concept for a bureau of the budget. Oberweis proposes a comprehensive study of state government inefficiencies that will lead to a re-direction of state services. Lowden fought old-style bossism in his party, supporting Teddy Roosevelts progressivism. Oberweis has stood up to the Republican-Democrat combine which has fixed elections so there is little if any choice: and in doing so, crosses swords with the Thompson, Edgar, Ryan, Topinka hybrid.
The only thing that differentiates Oberweis from Lowden, is that while the late governor made a lot of money as a lawyer, he gained significant wealth by marrying the heiress to the Pullman fortune. Nothing particularly wrong with that, but here the similarity ends. Given a good start in life, Jim Oberweis became wealthy and added to a modest family inheritance by generating a fortune due, most of all, to his own entrepreneurial gifts.
Second, like Lowden, Oberweis has not just the far-sightedness but the courage of his convictions. Lowden won the support of the state labor federation, unrivaled for a Republican of that time and was attacked by conventional adherents in his party; Oberweis has endeared himself to ordinary working Illinoisans with his insistence that the national government of his own party implement meaningful immigration reform while alienating some so-called progressives in his party. Lowden had the guts to stand up to the Republican boss of Chicago, Big Bill Thompson, declaring that lack of ethics demand Thompson resign as Republican National Committeeman; Oberweis has long demanded that Bob Kjellander, who made millions on state investment deals, step down as GOP National Committeeman. Big Bill doomed Lowdens career as a leading presidential candidate in 1920, mis-using city patronage to defeat Lowden in the new Illinois presidential primary and leading a fight in the Illinois GOP delegation against Lowdens presidential candidacy, which led the convention to being a pawn for the Chicago smoke-filled room that picked Warren Harding. Contemporary GOP establishment figures including Big Jim Thompson want to cut short Oberweis career because he will not bend or pander by saying politically correct things).
Third, Lowden had a strong stand on family issues, basis the efforts of his friend Theodore Roosevelt to end child labor abuses, implement safe mining procedures and built a climate where mothers in poor families would not have to go to work if they didnt want to. Jim Oberweis has taken a dramatically effective position on todays social issues to protect the family including eloquent opposition to abortion, support for the marriage amendment and forthright opposition to special legislation that would install official recognition to radical life-styles which are alternatives to traditional family values.
This blog supports Jim Oberweis because he stands tall on all three categories but has had respect for two of his three opponents. Ron Gidwitz has demonstrated his grasp of governmental efficiency, has grown on the campaign trail as a speaker and has demonstrated courage. But on the key social issues which mean so much to the future of this state and nation, he has chosen to agree with the liberals and the main branch of the Democratic party. State Sen. Bill Brady has admirable gifts including a sunny personality, good looks and a winning way of articulation. He is only 44, with a good future ahead of him. Unfortunately he has not provided either the funding to get his message out or ideas that differ from the usual Republican run-of-the-mill grist. So he will pursue his quest to the end notwithstanding what it could do to conservatives and his party. Thereby he runs the risk of being relegated to the sidelines in the future as one who, like Patrick OMalley, pursues his goals regardless of his partys well-being.
The tragedy is that OMalley, who refused to endorse Jim Ryan, is now a man of the past as Bill Brady may well become because of his intransigence.
If the cause of conservatism loses on March 21, make no mistake: Brady will wear the collar for it if it can be perceived that his votes could have saved the day.
State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka has shown that she doesnt have the ability to govern her own tongue, much less the state. Of all the candidates, she had the best chance of presenting a thorough and well-researched program for the future. Unfortunately she squandered that opportunity, does not present a coherent program and has become a divisive playerhaving called her opponents morons (apologizing to them later) and blistering conservatives of her party as nuts. Finally, she has decided to deprive her party of the fullest measure of debate by withdrawing her earlier consent to participate in the WTTW-City Club meeting. The withdrawal shows her inability to take criticism and her petulant determination to run what she hopes will be a Rose Garden strategy.
Finally, here comes the subordinate reason for Oberweis victory, lesser than governmental but important to Illinoisans who deserve to see the two-party process prosper. This is that Jim Oberweis leadership would revitalize the Illinois Republican party. Ever since the era of Big Jim Thompson, who was elected in 1976, the Illinois GOP has been in the grip of Republic-crat Bourbons: a class of wheeler-dealers who have built massive spending programs that serve both parties, resulting in Thompsons Build Illinois, Jim Edgars social liberality, George Ryans unparalleled corruption and Judy Baar Topinkas vehement and frequently expressed insults to conservatives.
Before Thompson, the Illinois Republican party was home to many people who served in government for a time and then returned to the private sector, keeping their conservative mien as well as people who served in political life without the desire to enrich themselves: Everett Dirksen, Charles Percy, Robert Merriam, Henry Hyde, John Erlenborn extending all the way back to Charles Gates Dawes, the former U.S. vice president. Thompson changed all that; he built a government that was home to non-philosophical pragmatic lobbyists who could serve either party with ease so long as subsidies and their own pockets and later their clients were lined amply. Thompson lived like Suleiman the Magnificent, building a ghastly glass temple in the Loop which he named for himself. His victories due to his undeniable personal charm and prosecutorial pedigree were not wins for philosophy. His political philosophy is indistinguishable from the perishable dictates of the modern liberal Democratic party. He differs from it only in having a R rather than a D after his name. Even this he has sought to eradicate by hosting a lavish fund-raiser for Rod Blagojevich at his law firm and serving as a co-leader of Blagojevichs transition. In the post-collapse France circa 1940-45 there was a name for that collaboration: Vichy government.
Since his entrance into the political scene thirty years ago, Thompson has been a malignant influence in Republican politics beyond his own victories, snuffing out any chance for the Reagan Revolution to flourish. Consequently, he lives today as the example of what wheeling and dealing can accomplish: a multi-millionaire lobbyist, the head of a law firm that has spent multi-millions of its own money defending George Ryan pro bono leading people to wonder if Thompson is a secular Mother Teresa, giving his services for nothing or whether there is some hidden reason for the gratis service by the firms top rain-maker. This is the same Thompson who was the slumbering watchdog as chairman of the Hollinger audit committee who either snored or clinked martini glasses with Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle while Hollinger was looted. He has been the Guardian Angel of the Vichy Republicans; under him, his party has become identical with its opposition as the party of the Big Fix.
Thats why taking control of the Republican Party is almost as important as winning the gubernatorial election. Unless Jim Oberweis becomes the partys de facto leader, Illinois will continue to have two Democratic parties. Even if Oberweis were to lose the gubernatorial electionand this is not necessarily likelyif he were to take command of the GOP it would be a signal victory. Barry Goldwaters winning the 1964 nomination for president did not gain the presidency but paved the way for a total change in party philosophy. Modern conservatism sprang from that nomination. A dynamic modern conservatism can re-energize the Illinois Republican party with the advent of Jim Oberweis as the partys nominee and hasten the end of the era of the Big Fix.
Thats why this blog says: Go, Jim!