Where is everybody? Where are all those persons we elected (or who want our Feb. 27 vote) to represent us? We are in the midst of a health care crisis because of a huge deficit in the Cook County budget. The County of Cook is $500 million in debt. That’s a lot of money. This proposed bare-bones budget is to be voted on by the county board on Feb. 28-the day after the election! Isn’t that convenient?!
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has publicly stated there are three options: 1) raise taxes, 2) cut services, 3) a bailout by the State of Illinois (specifically Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich).
As it concerns health care, option 2 is obviously the most abusive to the poor and uninsured county electorate. Abusive as it may be, however, it is the option of choice since President Stroger was safely elected in November 2006.
Why not option 1? Well campaign promises were made to Cook County voters by Stroger and his sponsors that he would not raise taxes if we voted him into his father’s seat. So that promise is being kept, but I don’t believe it’s being kept because the powers-that-be are such saintly promise-keepers. This is just typical power politics at the life-draining expense of the silent majorities. It is the hypocrisy of our so-called democracy. A government of the people, by the people and for the people? There should have been a referendum on the November ballot about how we, the people, felt about health care cuts. But as my beloved mother says, “That would have been too much like right.”
The truth of the matter is that we live in a global economy with constantly rising costs, so even with budget cuts, taxes are always going to be raised because the price of everything always goes up.
There are historical divisions between Chicago and downstate Illinois just like the unity-defeating divisions between the West and South sides of Chicago. Why do these divisions exist? That’s food for thought in another column, but let me just point out, since I brought it up, that those among us who love power, money, influence and celebrity more than we do people most certainly know what’s needed in order to acquire and maintain oppression and exploitation-division and silence-these are the historical weapons of any demeaning domination of the poor and unprotected.
This brings me to option 3. Why doesn’t Gov. Blagojevich step up and heal a health care system that heals the sick in Cook County and 28 collar counties and whoever else shows up at its venerable doors? Pres. Stroger has publicly stated that the governor actually has the money to salve the wounds of the county health care system, but as of yet has not done so. Why?
The first line of this column posed the question, “Where is everybody?” The everybody I’m referring to are the Black and Latino political caucuses. Where are our Black and Latino State of Illinois elected officials? Why don’t we see them caucusing before television cameras, demanding that the governor fight for the poor. Where are the state representatives and state senators? Are West Side preachers the only ones who are supposed to wage this battle?
Your pastor’s job is not to protect the political backsides of people who kiss demons and slay angels. Don’t we elect and pay these legislators to represent the needs of our communities? Are our elected state officials afraid to hold town hall meetings in their respective districts to find out if they should lobby the governor for these critical funds? I’m not campaigning for anyone, but the only official I know who’s sticking his neck out in this regard is Commissioner Robert Steele. God bless him. Commissioner Maldonado is willing to step up as well.
My point is: Why is Springfield so quiet?
Do we really expect the downstaters to fight for the poor and uninsured up here in the big city? We can’t even convince them of the value of poor people having decent educations, much less accessible health care. This sort of disinterest is not new, which is why caucuses were formed in the first place.
Are our state officials afraid of the governor? Are they in too deep? Some black elected officials criticized Obama for endorsing Daley. But at least the mayor had enough political savvy to voice that there must be an alternative to these health care cuts.
I propose we form a new caucus. A people’s caucus. A caucus made up of courageous, un-bought mothers, fathers, grandparents, postal workers, mechanics, rappers, clergy, politicians (including our minority state legislative caucuses), nurses, doctors, teachers, community activists and anybody else who is sick and tired of people who don’t want to see, touch or hear about poor and uninsured people who happen to be so tired they’re sick-and so sick they’re dying to feel better.
Our politicians must never forget that the people do have a voice.
It’s called voting.