Lincoln Day Dinner revolt

Dan Proft Feb. 11, 2007, 7:30am

Dan Proft

Rank-and-file Republicans of Illinois, put down your salad forks and take up the pitchforks!

We are entering the traditional Lincoln Day dinner season where Republican county organizations in each of Illinois' 102 counties are preparing to serve the same gruel to their loyal subjects and usual suspects amidst Pavlovian remembrances of the halcyon days when Lincoln and Reagan called the shots and infused the party with meaning and purpose.

Those two words-"meaning" and "purpose"-have no home in the present Illinois Republican Party.

As we enter this season of feudal-like ritualism, mead and mutton chops included, I suggest it's time Illinois Republicans rise up and go medieval on their party's leadership.

For three decades, the Illinois Republican Party has been lorded over by a small group of self-styled aristocrats concerned only with their personal enrichment and power aggrandizement.

Thankfully, most of the Marquises de Greed have now crumbled under the weight of their own excesses and the federal scrutiny those excesses attracted.

Federal corruption convictions, corporate scandals, defections to the Democrats, and general incompetence have removed the reverence that loyal GOPers had previously reserved for the ruling junta of Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar and George Ryan.

But, with that oligarchy now deposed, chaos has ensued. While GOPers were wrestling with their new-found freedom mostly spending their time clubbing one another over the head, Democratic warlocks in the city took control of the kingdom, installing their progeny in the process.

Thus, a description of how we got here and what we have got.

Now, what to do about it?

Not unlike the Iowa caucuses, the GOP's county and township Lincoln Day dinners bring the stewards of the party together-the precinct captains, the donors, the envelope stuffers and phone bankers, the grasstops and the grassroots-to take stock and to talk shop.

This year, it's time for the knights around the round tables at banquet rooms and VFW halls across the state to require more of those who send them into battle each election cycle than predictable hand-wringing about the Democrats and stale platitudes about the allegedly bright future of the IL GOP.

It's time for Republicans to demand candidates who speak with moral clarity as to the GOP's belief system on the critical issues of the day and who commit to exorcising the demons in the party, regardless of ideology, position or wealth.

The IL GOP has been saddled with false prophets, myopic millionaires, spineless solipsists, and court jesters masquerading as philosopher-kings-and that's just in the last eight years.

For those that put themselves forward as the future but show now willingness to break from the past, to the guillotine they must be sent.

Lop their heads off and put them on a stick in the public square as a warning to those who would offer more of the same.

It's time to scour the countryside recruiting a new generation of leaders for a new Illinois Republican Party. The current crop had their chance and they sold their supporters into subjugation.

The Illinois GOP has had a bad run but, then, so did Lincoln-he ran country store that went broke; ran for House, lost twice; ran for Senate, lost twice; and was despised by the media for the principled stands on which he staked his life and his party. But in the end, well, you know…

If party regulars can summon similar courage and resolve, perhaps history will repeat itself and we will remember 2007 as the year when a Lincoln Day Revolt saved the Grand Old Party from electoral oblivion in the Land of Lincoln.

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