I guess it’s a case of ‘like father, like son.’
Back in early 2006, the primary race for Cook County Board president was in full swing. Incumbent president John Stroger was out to prove that he could still win despite being hospitalized following a stroke. The state of his condition was uncertain and many wondered why he nor his family would not disclose details about his health.
It turned out to be more a stall tactic than anything else as sponsors from the Stroger camp eventually conceded that their candidate could not continue his run. Their replacement candidate, son Todd Stroger, introduced to the voters months before the election as a “young” and “successful” alderman, known for his openness and honesty with voters increasingly distrustful of political shenanigans.
Such shenanigans, critics say, occurred during his father’s reign, including keeping the details of his stroke from the public.
Well, not disclosing his own medical status is one decision Todd Stroger decided to mimic from his father. Stroger was secretly fighting prostate cancer, but vehemently argues that he was concerned about the effect disclosing such information would have on the health of his parents. Telling voters of his illness prior to the election is a decision that, for his own personal reasons, Stroger chose not to do. I understand that.
Some may argue that as voters, we want to know whether our candidates can actually go the full term. But matters of this nature deserve to be handled at the discretion of the effected parties, not political experts. I don’t feel it deserves the type of witch hunt that some, including still bitter Tony Peraica who lost to Stroger last November, have launched.
In support of Stroger’s decision, let’s look no further than just last May when presidential candidate John Edwards took some criticism from the media who argued that he should have left the race when his wife Elizabeth’s cancer returned.
Would that have been the right thing to do? Certainly, dropping out of the race and giving up would have harmed her health even more. Most observers agreed with his decision, especially in light of her continued support.
There is no question that when one is ill or has a loved one that is facing a health crisis it can affect their focus. However, some prosper under those circumstances and overcome them regardless. You never know.
Todd Stroger deserved the opportunity to prove he could overcome them.
There is another issue at work here: What if he had come out and said he was “ill but wanted to continue with his campaign.” Wouldn’t that have just been more fodder for his opponents? I can imagine the smear campaigns that would have been splashed across the airwaves: Todd Stroger is like his father, aren’t you sick of the lies? – with pictures of both men with thermometers in their mouths. It wouldn’t have been pretty.
The media would have also argued that he was using his illness to ingratiate himself to voters by playing on their sympathy.
Now I’m not exactly a fan of Todd Stroger. I feel he has made several decisions since taking over his father’s seat that seem rather shady, like trying to hire his cousin for a six-figure city position. However, this time, I agree with him wholeheartedly. There is such a thing as a political life and a personal life. I don’t want my elected officials to be illness-free or saints.
I just want them to do their job in office. As long as he can do that, I’m content.