Kadner: A search for honor in Congress
By Phil Kadner email@example.com February 25, 2013 10:34PM
FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2011 file photo, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., is seen during the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington. A spokesman at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota said Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, Jackson has left the clinic, where he was being treated for bipolar disorder for the second time since taking a leave of absence in June. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Updated: March 27, 2013 6:18AM
A congressional successor to Jesse Jackson Jr. likely will be chosen Tuesday.
I hope it matters.
A job that pays $174,000 a year and allows a person to have a role in molding the future of the most powerful nation in the history of the world ought to matter.
Jackson used his position of honor as the representative of the 2nd Congressional District to purchase elk heads that adorned his office walls, buy fur capes and shuttle a “social acquaintance” from Washington, D.C., to Chicago.
No wonder 16 Democratic candidates appear on today’s primary election ballot. The job has its perks.
Actually, two of those candidates have dropped out of the race, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, of Olympia Fields, and the lesser-known O. Patrick Brutus.
Because they notified the Cook County clerk’s office too late to have their names removed from the ballot, notices will be passed out to voters at polling places, telling them that Hutchinson and Brutus are no longer running for the right to someday buy Michael Jackson memorabilia.
Five names will appear on the Republican ballot, but one of them also pulled out of the race.
Because more than 80 percent of 2nd District voters pulled Democratic ballots in the presidential primary election a year ago, it’s safe to say the Republican candidate doesn’t stand much of a chance in the April 9 special election.
But does it really matter?
It apparently matters a lot to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spent more than $1 million of his money through a super PAC to try to elect Robin Kelly, of Matteson, to Congress and defeat former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, of Crete.
The TV commercials run by Bloomberg’s political action committee tell people that Kelly would vote for assault weapons bans and Halvorson would not.
I find it offensive that a political action committee based on the East Coast would attempt to influence an Illinois election.
But this is the situation created by the U.S. Supreme Court, which believes the Founding Fathers wanted the wealthiest Americans to spend millions of dollars on TV commercials to help the ignorant masses choose the best political candidates for office.
As a result, the race in the 2nd District is being viewed by some as the first test on where the entire nation stands on gun control in the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut.
If Kelly wins, it’s a victory for those who don’t want to see children murdered in the streets. If Halvorson emerges victorious, it’s two more years of homicide in Chicago, according to Bloomberg.
Halvorson believes this is unfair because she has never voted in favor of homicide, just the right of people to own guns, which the Founders said could be carried by street gang members.
Chicago Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) thinks it’s unfair as well because he voted for gun control in the city council, and a billionaire isn’t helping his campaign.
People with money don’t have to explain themselves.
As for the rest of the Democratic candidates in this race, no one seems to care much about what they think.
This is the democratic process in 2013, and it ought to matter to people.
It ought to matter to the unemployed, homeowners facing foreclosure, parents trying to pay the mortgage or save enough to send their children to college.
Heck, when our country bombs another because that nation has weapons of mass destruction, it ought to matter that none of those weapons are ever found.
That’s what Congress is supposed to do. Provide a check on the powers of the presidency.
But it’s hard to make the case that it really matters these days.
Bobby Rush and Danny Davis have been in Congress for about 150 years or so. They didn’t stop the economy from collapsing or improve public education in Chicago or stop the children from being shot to death.
But voters are hoping today that some freshman congressman from the 2nd District will make a difference in their lives.
I understand that. Heck, I still get weepy whenever I see Mr. Smith doing his filibuster routine on behalf of a national boys camp in that old Frank Capra movie.
Can you see Kelly, Halvorson or Beale making that kind of stand, risking their political futures to rail on the floor of the Capitol against the corrupt political bosses back home?
Well, they can’t do much worse than Jackson Jr., or his predecessor Mel “MR” Reynolds. That’s the former congressman who thought he won the lottery when a 15-year-old girl agreed to have sex with him.
Reynolds went to prison and believes voters will return him to Congress because, well, we all make mistakes.
Why Reynolds is listed as “MR” on the ballot is unexplained, although it may have something to do with his instructions to schoolgirls.
When he first ran in 1995, Jackson said he would do better than Reynolds. And now all the candidates contend that they will do better than Jackson.
What “better” means in the 2nd District may be up to the discretion of a federal judge.
It ought to matter who sits in Congress.
“There is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress,” Mark Twain once wrote.
“If I studied all my life, I couldn’t come up with half the number of funny things passed in one session of Congress,” humorist Will Rogers said.
Whoever wins in the 2nd District will be referred to as “honorable” by their peers in Congress.
They addressed Jackson and Reynolds that way. It didn’t mean a damn thing.