Romney, Santorum and why the GOP needs entitlement reform too

It isn't just Democrats that need entitlement reform. Republicans do too. So Mitt and Rick, if you are watching, this one's for you. Photo: AP

CHICAGO, February 28, 2012 -The year was 1996. Patrick Dwyer, a Republican candidate announced he would be running for Cook County Recorder of Deeds in Illinois. And you might ask, what in heck is a Recorder of Deeds? And what does this have to do with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum?

Read on.

At the time, Dwyer, whom I had never heard of before in any Republican circles, was giving print interviews to outlets like the Windy City Times, a gay newspaper. He was telling editors there that he would aggressively support gay marriage in Cook County and yet he was calling himself a social conservative at Republican events.

Keep in mind that the issue was even more divisive then than it is now. Being younger and rebellious, I was outraged at the hypocrisy and decided that I was going to run against Dwyer on principle. My principle: Just be honest.

Credit: AP

That’s when the real trouble began.

You see, at the time, Dwyer was the son of Illinois Governor Jim Edgar’s secretary.

Yes, I said, “secretary.”

In Republican party-speak, that meant Dwyer was “entitled” to run for the office of Cook County Recorder of Deeds. 

On the other hand, I was, apparently, not “entitled” to run. 

Not that I knew that – mind you. I assumed, naively, that this being America – I was as equally free as anyone to run for that office.

And let’s face it the office of Cook County Recorder of Deeds isn’t exactly the plum in the Illinois Republican party’s fruity tree. The office has been held for decades by Machine Democrats, for Machine Democrats, and of Machine Democrats.

The likelihood that a Republican would have a shot at that office was nil. A notta. The only reason to run was, again, principle.

So run I did.

To run countywide in Illinois, you need thousands of signatures to get on the ballot. Braving bitter below-zero temperatures, my supporters and I gathered them up. Upon filing, my petitions we were immediately challenged by my opponent and we got ready for war.

Now, petition challenges are a dime a dozen in corrupt Illinois elections. But remember, again, that I was not “entitled” to run against Dwyer. So the signature petition challenge was just the tip of the proverbial entitlement iceberg.

Ex-sheriff deputies began showing up on family doorsteps around Cook County. They knocked on doors and targeted little old ladies who had signed my petitions, trying to scare them. After their dirty work, Dwyer’s lawyers attempted to charge me with perjury, saying that I had forged the signatures of these little old ladies.

Perjury, eh?

Chicago was just named the most corrupt city in America by a major study from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Now you know why.

To defend myself, we visited those little old ladies and their families one by one. After we explained to them that there was no need to be afraid, they gladly and enthusiastically signed affidavits for me. Some even wrote personal letters in a scratchy scrawl to the election board saying they wanted to sign my petitions. We had a team at the Board of Elections every day for weeks reviewing the signatures.

In the end, the Chicago Board of Elections (or Election Fraud as I like to say) laughed my opponent’s challenge out the door. Most of the time, people don’t win nasty challenges like these. But it wasn’t just a challenge to my petitions. It was a challenge to me, my principles, and my honor.

It isn’t easy to defend your honor and character from attack. It takes time and patience. You discover your real friends and those that were just there when the weather was fair.

Eventually, the truth set me free. But I couldn’t help but wonder afterwards: All that for an office neither of us would be able to win?

Sadly, it wouldn’t be the last time establishment Republican hacks would attempt to disparage my honor or character. And, again, it all comes down to a culture of “entitlement.”

I am fully aware of what the word “entitlement” has come to mean in modern political terms i.e. the liberal social welfare state and its dependants. But I would like to expand that definition to include the ruling political class’ system of entitlements.

Political entitlements manifest themselves in a number of different forms: (1) a person from a wealthy family that makes mass contributions to candidates, Democrat or Republican or both parties; (2) a person from a recognized line of political pedigree; (3) or anyone with significant wealth – regardless of the ill-gotten source – that can make substantial cash contributions.

The Republican entitlement system determines who runs, who gets endorsed, and who wins. It determines who gets “paid back” for past contributions. Endorsements are bought and sold. Letters ringing with praise go out to the party faithful. Principle doesn’t matter.  But cash does. It always does.

This is part of the problem conservatives have with the national Republican establishment. That is why Mitt Romney isn’t being fully embraced. That is why many conservatives root for the underdog, regardless of whether he or she can win. The battle goes to our very core beliefs; that there exists a meritocracy. 

That the best candidate should win; not just the one with the most money. We are frustrated by the system when we realize it isn’t true. That it just might not matter. In short, when we finally realize the system sucks.

But that, as they say, is politics.

Conservative satirist and commentator William J. Kelly is also a contributor to Breitbart.com and edits the Tea Party Reports for the Washington Times Communities. He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

Email questions to him at williamjkellyrebuild@gmail.com.

Find him on Facebook/Williamjpkelly

Read more of Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad in The Communities at the Washington Times


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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William Kelly

 

Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit www.kellytruthsquad.com.

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