Dropping the Ds and the Rs

Staff Writer
Chillicothe Times-Bulletin

A small-town Republican mayor endorses an incumbent Democrat for governor and in some quarters you’d think the world was coming to an end.

We heard some of the same nonsense when Republican Ray LaHood went to work as transportation secretary for a Democrat president. Too many people get hung up on labels, which is one reason why our politics are so dysfunctional.

Washington Mayor Gary Manier’s endorsement of Pat Quinn for another term as governor may defy type and may even be considered bold, if also blasphemy and political suicide in some narrow places, but in a lot of ways it makes perfect sense.

Quinn has shown Washington a lot of love since the Nov. 17, 2013, tornado that demolished a significant chunk of that community, and Manier is reciprocating, as many a mayor going to bat for his community would, by expressing his appreciation for that.

Granted, it’s an election year, and Quinn came to the rescue with other people’s money — taxpayer money. But in fact Washington and other storm-damaged communities — including Pekin and East Peoria — would be in a world of hurt without the $45 million in disaster assistance coming their way from the state in the absence of federal relief. Arguably government exists to help people in need, and Washington was most certainly in need.

Some local Republicans may not like it, but we don’t hear them complaining about the local taxes that may not have to rise because the state stepped in. Strange, as well, how some conservative critics of government generosity in the wake of disaster elsewhere — see Hurricane Katrina, see Hurricane Sandy (and we remember the heat New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie got for praising President Obama’s response then) — went silent when it hit close to home. No one gets to have it both ways.

There may be multiple motivations, but the first rule of smart, common-sense politics is to show up, to pay some attention. Other politicians were just as free to travel to Washington’s leveled neighborhoods and offer what support they could. Some did. Some didn’t. Quinn has been a frequent visitor to Washington in the last year.

In any case, Manier’s is but one voice in the community, and others are welcome here in the land of the First Amendment to exercise theirs, as well.

We’ll take independence any day in our elected representatives over those who march in lockstep, who put party before people. And we’ll take independence in voters over blind — and sometimes deaf and dumb — loyalty, too.

“I just don’t think there should be a D or an R when it comes to devastation,” said Manier.


—GateHouse News Service