Whenever I see a State Rep candidate pounding their fist on the campaign podium while swearing they’re on a mission from God to change that Springfield culture and only they have the high morals and force of will to do it, I have to laugh.
Should our intrepid orator prevail, they will soon discover they’re but one of 118 State Reps, each with their own agenda, allegiances, and dreams of something bigger. It will also become abundantly clear that they’ll be lucky if they can get a single sponsored bill to pass, much less single-handedly solve the state’s pension crisis.
Because if a governor can’t pull that kind of thing off, what makes a lowly House member think the political seas will suddenly part for them? The only way Bruce Rauner is going “shake up Springfield” is if his scientific team can come up with an earthquake generator.
So when, before I could even ask the question, 43rd District GOP State Rep candidate, Jeff Meyer, stipulated that his potential election would be just a stepping stone in turning that Michael Madigan monopoly tide, I was impressed.
You see, most politicians have figured out the quickest way to a voter’s heart is through his ears. So the surest way to extract those political cheers is to tell the voters exactly what they want to hear. It’s a wonderful short-term strategy, but it certainly has its longitudinal downside when the candidate can’t come through because the system simply isn’t set up to work that way.
To wit, Rauner can do his damndest to shake that central city to it’s very core! But unless he cajoles 60 State Reps and 30 State Senators into going along with him, the only thing he’ll be able to change is his underwear.
Sure he has veto power as long – as long as he checks with Mr. Madigan first.
As if that prospect wasn’t hard enough, the folks who head down to the state capitol with the kind of cavalier attitude we’ve been discussing, typically run into the kind of resentment and resistance that makes it even harder to make your presence felt.
The truth is, the entire system depends upon your capacity to understand your place in that long governmental chain and how well you can play with others. Think about it! Most bills won’t even make it out of committee unless you implicitly understand how to navigate the lobbyists, special interests, and your compatriots’ not-so-hidden agendas.
If you do manage that feat, now you have to make the rounds of the House or Senate to garner the necessary support. You have to convince your peers that voting for this bill is in their best interest. Trust me, that’s an art.
With that success in hand, you have to start the process all over again in the other chamber and cross your fingers, arms and legs and hold your breath in hopes the governor doesn’t scuttle it with one stroke of the pen.
And lastly, if the bill does become law, you have to give credit to all sorts of legislators who really don’t deserve it just to butter them up for the next go around.
So when Jeff Meyer acknowledged that a single state rep is but a mere drop in a much larger bucket, it will require sea change to change Springfield, and that those kind of political overhauls require the patience and virtue of taking small steps, I wanted to kiss him on the lips.
But then we’d probably have a lot more trouble getting Left, Right and You guests to show up.
Again, the bottom line we’ve previously discussed is that no one politician is going to save us from ourselves. It’s a always a marathon and never a sprint. And it’s very refreshing to talk to a politician who actually gets it.
Now if we could just convince the voters.