Notwithstanding the blizzard of solicitation calls, emails, collateral material and advertising in the Illinois gubernatorial campaign, two statements of Bruce-Rauner enthusiast Diana Rauner stick out: that she is a Democrat, and that he has no "social agenda." (So, no worries my sister, pro-choice Democrats.)
What the heck does having no "social agenda" mean anyway? Why in the world is that a good thing -- as Diana Rauner so clearly implies in her ad for her husband -- in these times of such distress in Illinois? Does it mean no car seats or no vaccines? Does it mean allowing smoking in schools? Does it mean no food stamps for hungry children? Does it mean no government grants to organizations like hers that help poor women find jobs and poor children survive? Does it mean no Social Security?
And what the heck does it mean to be a Democrat, when you seemingly support everything your Republican candidate proposes, e.g., no Medicaid for some poor people (via an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act), no Illinois-enacted minimum wage increase (without breaks for business), and smaller government providing fewer services for people in need.
Yet, Diana Rauner says she is a Democrat. I think that's because Diana Rauner would have us believe these statements of hers are just typical, hypocritical and cynical political rhetoric. So, no biggie. I don't think so.These statements suggest she's not just hypocritical and cynical, she's willing to do and say just about anything to get to be Illinois' first mate. That's a ship to nowhere, if you ask me.
How hypocritical is Diana Rauner? How cynical is Diana Rauner? How political is Diana Rauner? Let's count some ways.
Founded by the visionary Irving Harris, in partnership with government, to help poverty-stricken young children, Ounce of Prevention, the organization Diana Rauner heads (she's taken a leave to campaign), has received government contracts worth 123 million dollars in the last eleven years, according to Crain's Chicago Business. (These years include the time that Diana Rauner has been president.) She's been busy doing one thing (taking the government's money) but now she's saying another (I support a candidate who believes government should be smaller, presumptively meaning fewer grants to social service agencies like the one she runs.) How cynical is that!
As I've mentioned, Diana Rauner's husband doesn't believe there should be an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Yet, Medicaid is critical to the survival of many of the families Diana Rauner's organization serves. Have we heard Democrat Diana Rauner say Democrats Barack Obama and Pat Quinn are right, and Republican Bruce Rauner is wrong? Don't hold your breath.
Then, there is Bruce Rauner's (one-time) opposition to the minimum wage at all. Mayor Emanuel rightly pointed out in the Sun-Times: "Single moms need a minimum wage hike." The mayor was writing about those very same women Diana Rauner purports to be concerned about. Does Democrat Diana Rauner agree with Democrats Rahm Emanuel and Pat Quinn? Or does she agree with Republican Bruce Rauner? Honestly, there's just no telling.
Then, there is the Rauner family cash: over half a million to the pro-right-to-abortion American Civil Liberties Union, even larger amounts to anti-abortion groups.
What to make of the Rauner's "social agenda"? For, clearly, they have one. That's a mystery. And Diana Rauner's back and forth makes it a mystery well worth solving.
Meanwhile, I'm wondering why we should believe anything Diana Rauner says.
You might be saying: well, he's the candidate; she's not. It doesn't really matter what she says, or what she does, or how much cash she gives to whom. I don't think so. Not when she proclaims one thing while doing another. Not when she knows every woman's vote will matter in this race. Not when her family is giving money to opposing women's causes. Fact is, she couldn't be much deeper in this game. She's fair game.
This gubernatorial race is Illinois' first to include a candidate's wife who is both a leading organizational executive and a significant philanthropist. While Jayne Thompson, gubernatorial candidate (and Governor) Jim Thompson's wife, also had a significant career while her husband ran for office, it didn't have the same public import. And, to my knowledge, Jayne Thompson wasn't a major philanthropist. Other Illinois gubernatorial candidate's wives have had more modest professional careers or worked only inside the home.Yet, pinch hitter Diana Rauner would have us voters ignore her decades of professional, civic and philanthropic decision making. What kind of fool does she take us for?
I'm having a hard time with her. In fact, I'm having no time for her. I'm getting breathless considering her cynicism, her asking us to let her have it all ways. That's because I believe that people who truly care about the common good don't do what Diana Rauner is doing. They defend their actions and work hard to have those actions make sense to voters.They don't ask us to dismiss their career choices, or their charitable giving, or imply that, when there is the possibility of great personal advancement, contradictory behaviors shouldn't count.
I'm thinking Illinois voters would do well to think long and hard about this politician Diana Rauner, who seems so willing to say and do just about anything to get herself to the captain's table. For my part, I think we deserve way better in our women political leaders. She won't have my vote.