State legislators are like ants in a log. There are so many of them and they are too small, too quick to recognize as individuals, let’s track their efforts. Even if the log is in your backyard, why bother paying attention? Given the simple statehouse task – dragging the bits of the legislature around – only the most dedicated political junkies bother to try.
Occasionally, though, a leader puts himself at the center of action for long periods of time, not only to understand what is happening in a colony, but also to provide a way to illuminate the general catastrophe that has poisoned our increasingly toxic national political culture: money, influence, Bending the regime, and self-activation that distorts the government at every level.
Michael J. Meet Madigan, the tight-lipped mystery at the heart of the Illinois legislature anthill for more than a third of a century. Nicknamed “The Sphinx” for its outspoken silence and airy longevity, the Madigan was the last operative drive shaft of the old Daily Democratic machine – copied by the infamous Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daly from 1955 to 1976 – where Clout was created. You vote correctly, I will Make sure your son gets a park district job. Throughout his career, Madigan was chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois, a member of Chicago’s 13th Ward Committee and speaker of the Illinois House for 36 years, the longest-serving leader of any legislature in American history.
Designed by Republicans as the “center of all evil in the state government,” Madigan endured as governors arrived. When Republican Jim Edgar became governor in 1991, Madigan did not return his phone call for months. Madigan did not need him; He was served by a patron army of 400 drones for jobs, promotions and promotions, who would jump into the campaign, knock on doors and buttonhole passengers to sign petitions. (Or, in a notorious conspiracy, the opposite: Hectoring residents of Madigan district withdrew their signatures in a 19-year-old nominee petition to sign an affidavit that dared to run against the elected alderman of the state’s most powerful politician. The boy had no chance to win, But the speaker’s operatives so ruthlessly returned the signatures that about 2,600 voters agreed to give up signatures they never gave.
Madigan was a recognized reality of Illinois life, such as the weather, or, more precisely, like God, a mysterious force in his heaven, revolving works and mysteries.
Then everything changed.
First, the #MeToo revolution of 2018 upset Madigan, removing its longtime chief of staff, Tim Mapes, and top collaborator, Kevin Quinn, amid allegations that Madigan had not done enough to prevent sexual harassment of their female colleagues. Sunlight continues to fall through the cracks. Madigan testified for the first time in his life. The U.S. Department of Justice’s federal investigation into alleged corruption in Madigan is closer. Over the years, Madigan used Commonwealth Edison, an electrical utility company, as a “crony job service” that paid Madigan’s allies directly, such as ,500 4,500 a month to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, Ed Moody. Consultations. “In return, Madigan enacted legislation that favored the utility. He will run the business of his private law firm, including clients who previously had businesses in the state.
These tactics have long been a dirty secret around Springfield, but now they are becoming fully visible. The Illinois House Democrats, in November 2020, heard poachers in Beijing at a distance and refused to hand over the speaker’s giveaway to Madigan – a once-unimaginable blasphemy. Forced to surrender to the Speakership, Madigan handed the baton over to his chosen successor. Even after he resigned from the House, it seemed that Madigan could leave, leaving his memorable dignity, privacy and personal freedom intact.
Instead, in early March, the DOJ charged Madigan with 22 federal frauds and bribery, accusing him of “running a criminal enterprise aimed at increasing Madigan’s political power and financial well-being as well as generating income for his political allies and collaborators.” The maximum penalty for the charge is 20 years imprisonment.
Madigan is not guilty.
Did 79-year-old Madigan finally slip into old age? Was he careless, or was it the misfortune of doing the usual legal horse business on the federal wartap? Question Snake through a highly read new book, The House Made by Madigan: Velvet Hammer’s record run in IllinoisBy Ray Long, himself a Springfield fixture, covering the state capital of Illinois Chicago TribuneThe Chicago Sun-Times (Where we were colleagues), and somewhere else.
When he took power in 1983, Madigan had a long hand to notice the way he held the speaker’s hand. His predecessors have no push. Instead, he wrapped his fingers around the barrel and tapped the handle silently.
“It’s a new era,” Madigan said.
Not really. Morality is more like the same old era for overcoming perforated barriers to law. Creativity was needed. Madigan could not just offer government jobs to reward his friends. That has not been done in public. So ComEd complains that it will do it for him. Everything from Madigan meter readers and summer internships to a seat on the utility board has got loyalists.
Long presents the central question that legislators and lobbyists alike fought: “What does the speaker think?” Although neither Long nor his readers have ESP, we can guess what Madigan thought by what he did.
Three main currents: First, Madigan sees Chicago as important for its own right, and Illinois as an engine driven economic engine. He thwarted attempts to snatch control of O’Hare and Midway airports from Chicago and hand them over to a regional authority, and the Illinois tax dollars flowed into Windy City. While it would be an exaggeration to say that Chicago would have become Detroit or Cleveland without him, the reality is, it didn’t, and Madigan helped.
Second, he thought the legislature should have its own independent, disciplined powers, the executive branch and the equivalent of the court. Although some legislatures have become rubber stamps – hello, the Chicago City Council – the legislature is important under Madigan.
Ultimately, he believed that Illinois should be reserved for use and enjoyment only by the Democratic Party. Indeed, the state has become a blue island in the Red Sea, jammed in Mississippi in the Midwest of Indiana; Missouri, where Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden by 15 points; Iowa, where there are more cattle than humans; And Wisconsin, where Scott Walker’s brand of anti-union rhetoric has had alarming success.
This was done, in part, by “extreme” germination. Madigan redesigned state maps in 1981, 2001 and 2011 No matter how terrifying Dames rightly feels about the current GOP effort to undermine the mechanics of the vote, no ballot limitation transcends the notion of creative cartography carving a safe haven for Democrats and, when absolutely necessary, a ghetto where Republican voters can speak.
Even after the threat of our election became very clear, the Illinois Democrats in October divided the state into 13 strong Democratic districts, three strong Republican seats, and only one highly competitive district.
In addition to rank-and-file hypocrisy, it is mentioned in perhaps the most resonant paragraph in Long’s book, when Barack Obama, who served as a state senator alongside Madigan, visited Springfield in 2016 to warn how less than 10 percent of Gremondering’s nationwide House District contestants. জ্Dangerous to democracy. When districts become less competitive between Democrats and Republicans, primaries gain more currency, where voter turnout is lower and extremist candidates can take root. As a result, Obama said, “our debates have shifted from the middle, where most Americans are, to the far side of the spectrum, and this further polarizes us.”
Not all of Long’s books resonate with such significance. There is much to be done about raising state taxes and dealing with the Land of Lincoln’s pension crisis, unraveling the complex knots of the alliance and analyzing motivations.
A few chapters paint a picture of political instability in Illinois. The drama dates back to June 30, 1988, when Republican Gov. Jim Thompson joined Madigan to try to fund a new ballpark for the White Sox while the team was on a flight to Florida. The work had to be done before midnight, when a change of legislature makeup would destroy the effort. But Madigan has “fixed the time.” – Literally. He turns off the clock in the middle of the night so he and Thompson can turn the weapon when opponents sing “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.” Field
The episode is so funny that the biblical stop near the sun, that it can be ignored – removes the vague fog of fandom – that government officials are bending the law to bury public money in the pockets of a private business.
Despite these moments of drama, the Sphinx remains a cipher at the end of Long’s book. Does he have a friend? Hobby? An inner life? Long never surprises. Robert Carro is not. What Long can do is make Madigan aim to be victorious above ideology. He demanded fanatical allegiance and got it. He overtook those whom he met on his way, went ahead tactfully, and overtook him. “
So long it seemed like forever. And then it was over – of course, except for the pending trial.
Which brings us back to the world of ants, where Madigan has traveled for so long, and where there is only one leader in each colony, served by an army of faceless workers. As human beings, we have to do better in our social hierarchy. In fact, in government, we should never serve a man or a woman, but rather that noble and old-fashioned notion of “common good.” But as Ray Long’s valuable new book points out, an intelligent politician can still lean the whole system towards their bidding year after year-as long as they have the ingenuity and ability to shut it down.