Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Constitutional convention

My mother roomed with Zorita "Zoe" Wise in Hyde Park in the 1940s when they were both idealistic college students, even before Zoe met her future husband Abner Mikva. They were involved in political organizations even then. And I personally remember everyone in our family -- children included -- working very hard at Dawn Clark Netsch's first political campaign office in Old Town. The Mikvas and the Netsches were dreamers once upon a time. Their present-day position requires some explanation.

Once in the clouds, it is difficult for a person to see clear to the ground, where the rank-and-file citizen is stranded. Netsch and Mikva have traveled for too many years in the glamorous, rarefied air of our state's realpolitik, and my experience has shown me that they are out of touch with the people's needs in many ways.

"Lakefront liberal" is now an oxymoron. The people who power these organizations understand the system too well to do us any real good. They are blinded either by their loyalties -- as I believe Mikva and Netsch sometimes are -- or else by their ambitions -- as is the younger generation that is sucking up to them. This has gradually redefined what "liberal progressive Democrat" means in Illinois and across the country. It is time to step back and take a very close look at things. A constitutional convention will do that.

Netsch and Mikva deserve our gratitude for their decades of service and their consistently progressive platforms. But they are out of touch. They do not appear to be willing to acknowledge that our political system is rotten to the core. The movement of massive campaign dollars coming from powerful interests is impossible to resist, because if you resist you will not survive politically. This makes it extraordinarily difficult to oust an elected official who is doing wrong for our state. But that is the only power Netsch and Mikva trust us with. It's like giving us a rubber hammer so we won't hurt ourselves.

Many people I worked hard for to get into office over the years have the appearance of serving us well, and when I confront them they do make a persuasive point that they are indeed accomplishing some things. But the fact is that they are bound by masters more powerful than they are. These masters permit them to make the appearance of achieving big things for their constituency, but they do not let them get uppity.

When all is said and done, they cannot buck the status quo in meaningful ways, for fear of losing their funding or being targeted by a bigger fish. They are too cautious, because they want to stay in office for a very, very long time. But this is inconsistent with the notion of democracy -- of "people rule" -- because enough time in Springfield, swimming in corporate lobbyists and cocktail parties (not to mention all of the out-and-out bribes), will take the "person" out of even the most moral of us.

The question of a constitutional convention hinges on this schism of ensconced politicians on the one hand, and the average citizen on the other hand.

This is our best opportunity to bring real real people to the table, to put them on a level playing field with all of the vested interests, from big corporations to fat-cat politicians to -- yes, admit it -- often myopic big-media outlets. A constitutional convention gives you and me the opportunity to make real change, to dream of a future where people can once again believe in the political system.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

D Clark Netsch is and was a self serving sleeze. Why don't you do a bio on her.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If cowards like you would come out of the shadows and moderate their tone so that their thoughts were half believable, someone might be able to do that.

12:08 PM  

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