State GOP: Madigan’s democracy talk ‘doublespeak’ for dictatorship
Republicans say that, in Illinois, there exists a democracy of one — Mike Madigan, to be exact — with the longtime House speaker managing affairs as if the state were a dictatorship rather than a system of egalitarianism.
When commenting, in the context of ongoing budget negotiations, Madigan recently referred to Illinois government as “a full, participant democracy."
His remarks were quickly picked up by the public, prompting at least one swift rebuttal from the GOP on Twitter.
"In Illinois, we have a democracy of one — Mike Madigan,” Aaron DeGroot, a spokesman for the Illinois Republican Party, said. “Recent comments made by the speaker concerning 'democracy' in state government are laughable.”
Despite the fact that a robust majority of Illinois residents favor term limits, Madigan continues his machinations in Springfield.
Results of an October study conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University indicate that more than three-quarters (80 percent) of Prairie State constituents approve of term limits in state government positions and that, additionally, 70 percent of Illinoisans also support redistricting reforms.
Both topics were hot buttons during the 2016 election season, with many candidates lining up on one side or another as they campaigned on major issues statewide.
When the redistricting issue surfaced last year, a substantial surge of Independent Map Amendment proponents surfaced, only to meet subsequent failure after a defeat in the state’s Supreme Court banned the matter from inclusion on the state’s November ballot.
In response, Crain’s writer Greg Hinz facetiously said — regarding the partisan vote of 4-3 — that “Illinois might as well make Mike Madigan king,” referring to the speaker’s overt power and other unspoken aspects of his sphere of influence after the court’s decision was perceived to be impacted by a Democratic mindset, or at least a majority.
“(Illinois) might as well get it over with and make Mike Madigan king for life,” Hinz said late last summer, predicting that voters will remain unable to change House map boundaries because the state Supreme Court’s Democratic majority will continue to prevent it. “That ain't changing. Thank you very much, Illinois Supreme Court. We can get to democracy in some other century.”
Following the map initiative’s defeat, one dissenting judge, Republican Justice Bob Thomas, said the ruling came at an especially unfortunate time and described the atmosphere in Illinois as mirroring that of the nation at large.
“(There) is a palpable sense of frustration by voters of every political affiliation that self-perpetuating institutions of government have excluded them from meaningful participation in the political process," Thomas wrote in his opinion. "A muzzle has been placed on the people of this state, and their voices supplanted with judicial fiat. The whimper you hear is democracy stifled."
Similarly, the matter of term limits was dealt a swift blow before it could make it to the ballot. A Democratic Party attorney affiliated with Madigan, Michael Kasper, filed a lawsuit last April in an attempt to prevent both term limits and redistricting from appearing on November’s ballot.
This occurred despite an enormous number of signatures gathered in a grassroots petition effort — over 590,000, nearly double the minimum required by law.
One Madigan spokesman declined comment on the matter, while another, Steve Brown, told the Associated Press that Madigan “believes everyone should play by the rules.”
DeGroot and his colleagues were not satisfied with the results, citing the so-called “democracy of one” as “abundantly clear.”
“Every chance he has had, Madigan has blocked voters from instituting term limits and redistricting reform, both hugely popular with Illinoisans, on our broken political system,” DeGroot said. “Don't let Madigan's doublespeak fool you — he controls state government, profits from it and wants to keep it that way."