Suggested New Year’s resolution for “activists”: Stop enabling

My colleague Cathy Santos has said it over and over again: It is not our job to clean up the Democratic Party — it’s our job to clean up the Republican Party. As 2008 ends and 2009 begins there are too many Illinois Republican activists still not quite understanding that new behavior and new leaders will be needed if the future isn’t going to look exactly like the past.

Forget Rod Blagojevich. If you think his arrest changes anything you’re not paying attention. The people who continue to lead the Illinois Republican Party are so incompetent that they haven’t been able to take advantage of Rod’s actions before his arrest, so get it out of your head that they’re going to be able to do so now.

Because of the charges by U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald against the governor, the Illinois Democrats are cleaning up their party in at least this one case. Oh, and just as a reminder, Pat Fitzgerald wouldn’t be here if it had been up to Karl Rove, Dennis Hastert, Ray LaHood, and other Republicans.

The bad news for Illinois Republicans, however, is that Illinois Democrats are dropping a national joke and bringing in a potential heavyweight. Then in 2010, Lisa Madigan or Dan Hynes or even Pat Quinn will clean the clock of the next Illinois Republican nominee for governor if our party nominates one of its usual suspects.

My wish for my fellow rank and file Republican activists in Illinois in the New Year is that they’ll do the most important thing in 2009: stop enabling bad behavior on the part of their leaders.

What do I mean? Stop succumbing to the Stockholm Syndrome. If you feel good about the fact that Tom Cross, Christine Radogno, or Andy McKenna returns your phone call, you’re probably suffering from a mental phenomenon that has been recognized for a long time in abused children, battered women, and prisoners of war.

It’s an emotional bonding that occurs when psychological problems cloud good judgment. People who are particularly susceptible are those who can’t really be called “political activists” but instead are “emotional activists” or “ego activists.”

Emotional activists want to feel important, listened to, and considered an insider. What matters is the goose bumps and endorphins enjoyed by the activist, not political progress. It doesn’t matter that they get those feelings in large part through their association with failed leaders who continue to abuse their offices and squander their bully pulpits.

Ego activists are those who come in new to the political arena and think that things will now change because they’ve shown up. We’ve seen this happen with many candidates who refuse to run as outsiders but instead cozy up to the same old bunch of Republican morons who’ve given us the mess we’re in today.

Some of these candidates get elected and assume their wonderful presence will somehow alter the dynamic and failure will change to success. They see themselves as alchemists — base metals are miraculously turned into gold just because their smiling face and enormous talent is now in the room.

The GOP caucuses in Springfield are littered with the remains of such delusions.

Other ego activists who don’t run for office instead engage in other ways – by posting on blogs or helping those who do put their name on the ballot. One of their foolish mantras is that the goal should be to “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”

For some odd reason they never see that the proximity of certain enemies causes anatomically unpleasant things to happen to them on a regular basis.

Despite the occasional success and flash in the pan by these ego activists, cycle after cycle passes and the same old incompetents are able to hold onto power in the Illinois GOP.

The most refined skill found among the emotional and ego activists is the ability to rationalize and explain away failure.

Again, my plea is — PLEASE STOP ENABLING those who have proven through the years that they haven’t the desire or the ability to advance Republican Party platform principles.

The year 2009 had better become the “Year of the Mirror” for Illinois Republican activists, or 2010 will be a disaster much like 2008, 2006, 2004, and 2002.

Up next: The unavoidable enormous political fight.