This Democrat's had more than enough

Opinion

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Bill Dwyer

So the Cook County Democratic Party has slated Todd "Urkel" Stroger for the presidency of the Cook County Board. Didn't we fight a war with England over inherited titles in the late 18th century?

Stroger Lite was slated despite the availability of Congressman Danny K. Davis, whose training and broad governmental experience makes him eminently more qualified. But Davis, acceptable to just about any Democrat not nakedly beholden to the machine power brokers who have carved up city and county offices like personal fiefdoms, managed only about 23 percent of the weighted vote. Davis lost not due to a lack of qualifications, but rather because he wouldn't put on a white coat and play house boy to entrenched interests in county government.

Those interests will only give up their control of power when it's pried from their cold, dead fingers-politically speaking.

Fine. I've indeed "had enough," as Republican Board President candidate Tony Peraica has been saying rhetorically. I plan to do my small part this November to help see that power is pried from those greedy little fingers. I'm voting for Peraica.

That's coming from someone who wouldn't vote Republican at the state or national level if you promised to pay off my mortgage. But after spending nearly 40 years watching a parade of corrupt party apparatchiks choke the life out of the democratic process in Cook County, I'm utterly fed up with county Democrats.

Interviewed in USA Today recently, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi referred to the process of wresting the U.S. House of Representatives away from Republican control as "draining the swamp." That's a most appropriate analogy, I believe, both for the National Republican party and the Cook County Democratic party. Party affiliation aside, both are thoroughly corrupt entities beyond redemption as they're currently constituted.

I know- Peraica's a social conservative. But I don't need him to agree with me on what are primarily state and national political issues any more than I need or care that he agrees with me on the Sox versus the Cubs. What I need is for Peraica to provide honest, open service as County Board President the next four years, and to make certain that those around him understand-that their failure to do the same will get them bounced.

It's not as if we'll be handing Peraica a blank check. Unlike the narrow minded goof currently in the White House, Peraica won't have unfettered power to simply act on uninformed, erroneous whims. What he will have is the ability to engage in genuinely bi-partisan governance in the service of all Cook County taxpayers, something he's said will be a priority if elected. He can start by aligning with reform minded commissioners like Democrats Forrest Claypool and Mike Quigley and Republican Peter Silvestriand chart a fiscally responsible and open course away from the partisan and wasteful practices of the past 40 years.

If the Democrats find themselves staring at a Republican board president come November, they won't be able to say they weren't warned. Davis told his colleagues that voters might revolt at the naked power play to slate Todd Stroger. Over 47 percent of Democratic voters voted for Forrest Claypool in the March primary. Add the growing pool of county GOP voters, Stroger Lite looks like anything but a lock.

After losing his slating battle, Davis said he'd support Stroger in November. Democratic voters, though, owe no such loyalty to a party apparatus that has shown little loyalty to their interests.

Pulling the curtain back

"There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America," Patrick Buchanan brayed proudly at the 1992 Republican National Convention. "It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself." That unvarnished truth didn't go over too well with GOP leaders, who were trying to keep their rabid social conservatism and hidden agenda under the average voter's radar. As I recall, the results were rather disappointing for the GOP that year.

Now 7th Ward Alderman William Beavers has boldly stated what his Democratic colleagues would surely just as soon had stayed unspoken- that it really is all about power and the ability to reward your friends, rather than serving all county taxpayers fairly and effectively.

"We've got control of the votes in the city and the county, so we do what we want to do, all right," Beavers told reporters a few days before the July 18 vote to slate a political neophyte for the Cook County Board Presidency. Oh, and by the way, Beavers will be sliding into John Stroger's commissioners chair, while his daughter nestles into his old city office.

Thanks for pulling back the curtain, Alderman.

There have been a few political sea changes in modern Chicago area political history, the election of Harold Washington as Chicago Mayor being the most notable. More recently, voters in the 8th Congressional District elected Democrat Melissa Bean to replace the corrupt, philandering Phil Crane after finally tiring of his hypocrisy and ineffectiveness. Now Cook County voters have the opportunity to finally turn their backs on a corrupt, cynical system that had foisted one inept hack after another on us for decades.

A few concerned people in the Cook County Democratic Party leadership have refused to blindly support the agendas and practices of the majority.

But the clear majority of individuals in Cook County government- Irish, Italians, Blacks, Croatian, Hispanics-remain part of a malignant rainbow coalition, one united in their mutual distain for open, honest government and bound by their common urge to see the connected few benefit at the cost of the majority.

They obviously still think they're bullet proof in regards to any real consequences from voters.

Enough. Not only will losing direct control of Cook County government finally get the attention of these people, such a crushing loss will hopefully give the Democratic minority, at long last, the ammunition needed to effectively confront the majority.

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