Apparently State Senator Jim Oberweis’ people haven’t quite gotten the hanging of screening certain folks from certain proceedings. To wit, I was stunned to receive a semi-personal call requesting my presence at his Wednesday evening telephone town hall meeting.
Of course, my first misgiving was an inherent aversion to being a part of any exercise to which I received an invitation. My standards are much higher than that. But the intriguing potential for blog fodder quickly overcame that internal obstacle and, like a 12 year-old on his first roller coaster ride, I hung on for dear life as the descent began.
And descent is exactly the right word for this one because all I can say is holy crap!
It took a mere ten minutes before I realized just why Jim did this by phone. As scary as those folks were via that medium, the thought of actually having to meet them face-to-face terrified me so much I spent the night in the crawl space.
One woman rambled on about those lazy people who’ve been collecting unemployment for three years. Another decried the fact that our disgraced governors were still collecting their hefty pensions. A former Chicago cop demanded the immediate issuance of voter IDs to combat the rampant voter fraud he’s convinced is corrupting the process.
Then there was the gentleman who wanted to create fortress America, a Batavian who lamented the upward nature of local tax levies, and, of course, the obligatory “Isn’t Obamacare the work of the devil?” inquiry.
To be fair, a vast minority of the menagerie did manage to come up with cogent questions, but before they start bragging about it I’d like to remind them that it would be a lot like claiming to be the tallest midget at the circus.
While the voters’ capacity to get it wrong while embracing silly sentiments scares me even more than a Sarah Palin speech (waterboarding is just like baptism?), the one person who managee to somewhat impress me was Senator Oberwies!
I’ll wait till you get yourself up off the floor and back in your chair…
Don’t get me wrong – he wasn’t perfect – Jim couldn’t resist issuing that tired old anti-Affordable Care Act rallying cry and he let the “people on unemployment are takers” assertion slide. But I have to say he generally dispensed with the pandering and repeatedly corrected the attendees who’d been drinking the Fox News Kool-Aid.
First, he noted that nobody gets unemployment for three years. Then he set the record straight on non-existent gubernatorial jailbird pensions, he reminded us that State Senators don’t deal with immigration while citing his recently moderated stance, and he couldn’t muster all that much Obamacare bashing enthusiasm either.
Though he did put some taxation pressure on the Democratic legislators, Jim adroitly pointed out that local governing bodies, especially school districts, are far more responsible for escalating property taxes than Springfield.
Jim did agree with the voter ID thing, but that only proves that nobody’s perfect. In the end, I left this conference with two things;
1. A new respect for Senator Oberweis, and
2. The realization that it ain’t the politicians who’ve put this state in a pickle, it’s the bleepin’ voters! Because not only do they utterly fail to grasp the basics, they’re the very gaggle who keeps putting the same mopes who put us in this mess right back into office. Anger is not a political platform, it’s an emotion.
To paraphrase Walt Kelly, “I have met the enemy and he is us!”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to the crawlspace.