The Hastert cabal seeks to capitalize again on the dilapidated IL GOP

In a series of emails among those on the Western Kane County Republican Organization email list yesterday an exchange took place about the prospective 14th congressional district candidacy of Ethan Hastert, the son of former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

During the next few months, the various candidates stepping up to run against Democrat Bill Foster will be vetted. Some of that work will be done by what remains of the local GOP organizations after years of neglect by lazy and uninspired leadership.

Young Ethan has appeared on local Chicago area news already and has received widespread print media coverage. So we all know Daddy Hastert’s political machine has kicked into motion.

Early emails in the exchange contained sentiments such as “give the kid a chance, he seems like a nice young man,” and “you can’t blame the son for the sins of the father.”

One good-hearted individual emailed the group warning about the proverbial “circular firing squad.” A good friend of mine told me in a private email that such talk is exactly what those old guard Republicans like to hear. For years, they’re the ones who have been lining up reformers to be shot.

The problem isn’t young Ethan – it’s his father’s name, record, and the slimy cabal that stands ready to elevate the son to Daddy’s old seat. There will be more in future articles about Daddy Hastert’s record as well as his political machine that is still a huge part of the problem here in Illinois.

For today, what follows below are my two contributions to yesterday’s discussion altered to fit this column.

With all due respect – the problem isn’t the Democrats – it never has been. The problem continues to be Republicans like Hastert senior who listen to the wrong people, squander incredible opportunities, fail the platform, and thus fail to properly use their office.

Just imagine the good that could get accomplished in Illinois if we had the Speaker of the U.S. House here for eight years. Oh, wait, that’s what we had. And where are we at now? There is practically no party to speak of in this state. The bench is nearly empty. And that’s not even the worst of it.

The American public learned almost nothing about how Republicans would like to reform any domestic policy. Don’t blame that on Bush. The Congress is the FIRST branch of government and it has its own responsibilities. Is it all Denny’s fault? No. But eight years is a very long time and he should have either stepped aside when things were heading south — or learned and changed course.

(Some of us were firing off warning flares over five years ago about Hastert’s failure to lead in the right direction. When I did so – I was prevented from attending the 2004 IL GOP state party convention as a delegate by Denny Wiggins, former Kane County Party Chairman and current 14th Congressional District member of the IL GOP State Central Committee.)

At some point leaders have to be held accountable. I know a lot of you on this email loop consider the Hasterts friends. That’s lovely. I’m pro-friendship — I’ve written about that topic in fact (here).

If Dennis Hastert would have been held accountable at home – in his own district by his own local GOP organizations – maybe we wouldn’t have had a U.S. Senator Barack Obama – let alone President Obama. Maybe Nancy Pelosi would be still in the minority. But since we were all buddies, Denny continued on his merry way and here we are…

Don’t tell me Denny didn’t have the power to positively influence things here in his own state. Instead, key members of his staff acted (and still act) as impediments to genuine reform and enablers of all the old, corrupt players.

Personnel matters, folks. There has to be a metric for performance. The mission of the GOP isn’t to elect Republicans – it’s really not. IT’S TO ELECT REPUBLICANS THAT WILL SUCCESSFULLY ADVANCE SOLUTIONS BASED ON OUR PARTY’S PLATFORM.

It’s not fun to have to admit failure, but too bad. Our biggest local failure was not holding Hastert senior accountable. We can’t make that mistake again. It’s almost surreal that things are this bad and yet a bunch of people are stepping up to support a nice but unaccomplished young man who has all the same failed players around him that surrounded dear old Dad.

The personable young Hastert shouldn’t be running – and the first thing he needs to do to help build an effective GOP in this state is to separate himself from anyone and everyone who had anything to do with his father’s disastrous tenure.

The firing squad is not circular. It’s aimed exactly where it needs to be aimed.

After another response followed suggesting that I was seeking ideological purity, that the Democrats should be the “enemy,” and that such opposition is led by those who are “Burn the Empire Republicans,” I offered this:

My complaint isn’t about ideology. It’s about competence. I’m not looking for “purity,” I’m looking for a brain-wave. Again, personnel matters. Give us a crew with a little competence and we can get somewhere.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone but there are people in politics that are incompetent or wrongly motivated. Many of these kinds of people surround Daddy Hastert.

Do you know who was been the target of the IL GOP firing squad since Dennis Hastert became Speaker in 1999? Reform-minded Republicans. That’s just a fact. Those of us calling for real accountability – and party building – and the construction of a bench haven’t been the ones “burning the empire.”

This state and this country have been on the wrong track under both Republican and Democratic leadership for years. We can’t just settle for electing the same old dumb or corrupt Republicans if we really want to see progress.

Dumb or corrupt Republicans are not superior to dumb or corrupt Democrats. They’re really not. My proof is that the environment that was created by such Republicans gave us Obama.

Yes – the IL GOP and incompetent Republicans in Washington, D.C. created the situation where Barack Obama got elected president. What will the next batch of dumb and corrupt Republicans give us? Obama’s second or third (etc.) term?

With competent leaders, the public will realize how foolish the Dems and their policies are. I don’t use the word “enemies” — I consider the people we’re up against in both parties part of the problem. We need to do better.