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“There is no history, only biography.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


Don’t look just at the trees as you read the articles grading Bruce Rauner on this first inauguration anniversary — whether his specific and tangible changes were enough given the legislature he had. That’s important, but there’s more.


See the forest. Consider the entirely of what changed since he arrived.


It’s an entirely new paradigm in Springfield. Once forbidden topics are now debated. Major directional change finally is at least on the table. Most importantly, a redirected and reinvigorated Republican party is setting a course for restoration of a two-party state. Before Rauner, nobody was around with the combination of guts, energy, vision, brains and cash needed to challenge the state’s political establishment. With no Rauner, the state would be continuing in the same direction as Chicago — foot firmly on the gas as the cliff approaches.


Every spending item is now put through the ringer of the budget crisis. The term, “unfunded mandates” now appears almost daily in news stories and those mandates are now finally recognized as the source of most municipal fiscal problems. Denial is no longer the only message from Springfield. Pork barrel based governing is over. Irreconcilable social issues have been shelved. Speaker Madigan’s complete discipline of House Democrats has started to crack.


Nobody with significant power in either party would challenge public unions before Rauner. At least one key Republican legislator (I’ll leave her unnamed) was literally afraid to say the word “union” when discussing the state’s problems. There simply was no debate about union power, but now there is, and municipalities are moving on their own towards labor reform.


Absent Rauner, had Pat Quinn not been elected, Kirk Dillard would likely be governor. Dillard sold out for union endorsement during the primary and even copied its “vulture capital” anti-business rhetoric. He and the rest of the Old Guard GOP in Illinois are gone, and they won’t be back. Most Republican legislators now in Springfield have a new resolve. The errors they made in the past, like supporting phony pension reforms and the Jobs Now pork fest of 2010, won’t be repeated because they have a new sheriff.


Personally, I confess I initially didn’t expect candidate Rauner to, well, win. First time candidates coming out of the business world usually don’t. I volunteered to help him (when he had his exploratory committee) for a different reason. I was thrilled to see a potential candidate saying the same things we were writing here, and just as bluntly. I thought he would at least succeed in changing the dialogue and that Illinois would finally be forced to hear how severe a crisis it faced.


He delivered splendidly on that part. The paradigm is indeed drastically different now. Whatever specific legislative and administrative changes he’s achieved in a year as Governor Rauner are frosting.


The metaphor of Rauner sticking a wrench in a machine works for me. Stuff broke. Parts flew off. It got messy. Sometimes that’s all you can do to shut a machine down. But The Machine — the Cook County Democratic Machine that ran Springfield — is stopped.


Without Rauner, who? He remains essential. Either he will succeed or Illinois will fail with him.


*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints. Opinions expressed are his own.




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Bob Oriole Park
Considering what he’s up against, he’s done a good job of drawing attention to the fiscal problems the state has. The rest of the perpetual legislators would not have, because then they’d be forced to admit the problems happened when they were in office and they were not able to correct them. Either they’d have to admit they were too incompetent to notice the problem, or they’d have to admit they were too ineffective to enact changes. Rauner is bringing peoples attention to the fact most of this happened when the Democrats were in charge of both the House and Senate. Madigan has the votes to pass… Read more »

The only parallel that holds between Rauner and Trump are businesspeople turned politician. They are entirely different, and have different battles to fight. Rauner’s first year has been a stalemate not of his choosing. The 2016 elections will be brutal-as Republicans have to turn over at least one district in each house of the legislature. Carrying Rauner’s message to a local district ought to be able to turn more than one, and destruct the powerbase Madigan and Cullerton have to block reform.


The parallel’s between Trump and Rauner are substantial. Kinda amazing how your support one but not the other.

mark glennon

I see no parallels whatever. Rauner supports comprehensive immigration reform including a path to normalization, while Trump wants to throw them out. Trump wants tariffs, Rauner is a free marketeer. The list goes on. The only parallel I see for Rauner was Mitch Daniels in Indiana.

Trump would work with Congress to get a balance, would not throw them all out. He probably would want severe penalties for ‘Ers who hire illegals in the future, but will make some concession to ‘Ers who have had an ‘ee for more than x years. Something must be done and Trump always shoots for the extreme so he controls the bargaining process. As for tariffs, he knows about Smoot-Hawley, so he’d use tariff threat in a bargaining process with China and Mexico. He’s setting the table so they know they’re not dealing with a cream-puff. Trump deals in 3D while the media understands him and reports… Read more »
Well pittrader has only one parallel, and Mark you have none, I see two men who have similarities in common. For one, as pittrader recognizes, they are business people turned politician. Yet in American politics we have had many businessmen enter the political ranks;still, not many who have were as financially and intellectually independent as Gov Rauner and Candidate Trump. Both come from outside the political establishment and are not beholden to political parties and special interests for influence. There vast wealth has created indepence few politicians share. No pay to play conflicts with these men….and no political favors owed for campaign contributions given. The bedrock of… Read more »
In judging Gov Rauner lets look at the forest through the trees and lets look at the big picture. Lets be fair but lets do judge him. Do hold him accountable for either praise for his actions Or blame for his actions. Or inactions. But lets not create a falsehood where he gets credit if are State is doing well but then blameless if are State is not doing well. Is Illinois doing better a year into Governor Rauners first term than it was a year before? Or are we worse off? Look past the micro indicators to a view of weather we are headed in the… Read more »