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The Future of Illinois Depends on Us

The Most Important Issue of the 2016 Presidential Election: The Supremes.

By: Andrew J. Englund

"Supreme Court US 2010" by Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States - Roberts Court (2010-) - The Oyez Project. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Supreme Court US 2010” by Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States – Roberts Court (2010-) – The Oyez Project. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Barack Obama has about 680 days left of his term.  And there are about 600 days left until Election Day 2016.  I believe that the most important issue for this election cycle will not be ISIS, various social issues, or even the Federal Debt which now tops $18 Trillion.  I believe that the most important issue will be what type of justices the candidate will appoint to the Supreme Court.  The president controls policy for four to eight years; however his Supreme Court appointments can sit on the court for twenty to thirty years, if not longer, leaving a far greater impact than any policy proposal.  Which is why John Adams appointed John Marshall to be Chief Justice of the Court in 1801.  John Marshall served as Chief Justice until 1835, his appointment was an obvious attempt by John Adams to disrupt the policies of Thomas Jefferson.  Even though John Adams was only President for four years (1797-1801), his Chief Justice controlled the court for thirty-four years.  This is why the Supreme Court is such an important presidential campaign issue.

The current Supreme Court has four loose constructionists, four strict constructionists, and one textualist (Scalia).  Here is the current make-up of the court: Chief Justice John Roberts, 60, appointed by George W. Bush in 2005; Justice Antonin Scalia, 78, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986; Justice Anthony Kennedy, 78, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1988; Justice Clarence Thomas, 66, appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1991; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 81, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993; Justice Stephen Breyer, 76, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994; Justice Sam Alito, 64, appointed by George W. Bush in 2006; Justice Sonia Sotomayor, 60, appointed by Barack Obama in 2009; and Justice Elena Kagan, 54, appointed by Barack Obama in 2010.

It is unlikely that Obama will have another Supreme Court nominee before his term concludes.  Justice Ginsberg has far too much respect for the Court to resign before Obama’s term concludes just so that her seat can be filled by a younger liberal justice, as has been suggested by a few blogs.  It is very likely that the next president will be able to appoint two or three justices.  If the swap is a liberal for a liberal, then the dynamic of the court will remain unchanged as is evident with the two most recent nominees.  However, if the swap is a conservative for a liberal or vice-versa then the dynamic of the court can change for the next twenty years.

Not only do we need to ensure that a conservative is elected President, but the GOP must remain in control of the Senate so that the nominees have a greater chance of being confirmed.  We do not want any of the textualist or strict constructionist nominees to be “Borked” by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I do not know who will be the Republican nominee for president, nor do I have a horse in the race.  I am suggesting that in order to really have an impact on the culture in Washington DC that we need to ask our candidates what types of justices they will nominate.  We need to pressure them to pick textualists or strict constitutionalists.

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The Unrepresentative Representative

US Representative John Shimkus (R-IL15) knows how to talk a good game. He has found a great way to keep his district eating out of the palm of his hands & as a side effect, has allowed him no serious challenger in a primary or in the general election. The reason? Because he portrays himself as a “good conservative”.

Having heard Shimkus speak on multiple occasions, I can pretty much tell you what he will say & he’ll sound like the most conservative person in the room when he does it. He’ll start off thanking everyone & move on to say something about God. From there, he’ll talk about his military background. Finally, he’ll talk about how messed up Washington is & about all the bad things the Obama administration has done or is planning to do to us. Simple. Straightforward. Prime Cut red meat for the Republican conservative faithful.

His speeches always get a rabble or a harrumph out of the crowd. I used to be one of them.

I used to campaign for John Shimkus. I walked precincts for him in the late 90s. I used to tout how John Shimkus was an example of how the people have sent someone good & right to Washington. But I woke up from that fantasy world. I wiped away the scales from my blind eyes & I started actually looking at John Shimkus’ voting record in the US House. What I found I didn’t exactly like.

I could make a long list here of previous votes/bills that were giveaways to the bio-fuel lobby (Open Fuels Standard Act of 2011) or were fluff legislation congratulating someone or some Eastern European country for doing something. We’ll stick with recent memory for this article to keep it as short as possible.

– Shimkus will tell you how the government should stay out of our lives, yet he was quick to help defeat, with the help of the Wicked Witch of the West Nancy Pelosi, by voting against Rep. Justin Amash’s amendment that would have barred the NSA from snooping in on US citizens not already investigation.

– Shimkus is nowhere to be heard of or seen of when it comes to Obamacare being applicable to Congress & their staff. A pending new regulatory ruling will allow Rep. Shimkus to keep his insurance while you & I will not be as fortunate starting later this year & into next year.

– Shimkus has sided with President Obama by allowing project labor agreements (aka union rules) to be required for all federal contracted bids. Every vote on to overturn President Obama’s Executive Order 13502 regarding PLAs whether by amendment or on the rare occasion when inserted into a bill’s language has met with a no, abstain or non-vote from Rep. Shimkus.

Rep. Shimkus has been in office since 1996 (several terms after his self-imposed 2 term limit). He’s a Boehner Republican. He’s the kind of guy that Speaker Boehner can count on in a crunch to vote his way. He’s a team player. Go with the flow.

Rep. Shimkus has become the Unrepresentative Representative. I look to the district north of us & I’m a bit jealous. Rep. Rodney Davis has a primary challenger in Erika Harold. Sad part is that Davis has drawn a challenger & he has a better voting record the Shimkus.  Shimkus has a worse rating (36%) than Davis (42%) on the Heritage Score Card. Shimkus even scored worse than Sen. Mark Kirk! Rep. Shimkus is the last on the Republican list before you start getting into the Democrat portion of the list! Yet Shimkus never draws a serious usurper for his crown in a primary.

Nothing will change. Shimkus will go on voting against conservatism. He’ll go on giving speeches about how conservative he actually is, whitewashing away the reality of his voting record. The Republican rank & file will believe every word he says. The Republican County Chairmen in his district will continue to defend him to the death. And he’ll go on getting re-elected. If assumption is the mother of all f–k ups, then apathy is the mother all of Shimkus’ reelection wins.


The Wussificaton of our Kids…in Effingham?!

We’ve heard the stories from other school districts – no Musical Chairs, no Duck Duck Goose, no Tag, etc. Why? Because these games are inherently unfair or somebody might feel left out.

I live in one of the most conservative areas in Illinois – Effingham County. Fox News once said that Effingham County is the “base of the base of the Illinois Republican Party”. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard what took place at Effingham Junior High School this past week.

My girlfriend’s granddaughter was running for 8th Grade class President at EJHS & therefore, there would be an election by her peers.  My future granddaughter was ready to campaign & was excited at the prospect of winning class President. She even spent her own time after school designing homemade campaign fliers.

Then she went to school.

When she went to the EJHS Office to get her fliers approved so she could hang them in the hallways, she was informed by the secretary that her campaign fliers were not going to be approved. Of course, she was upset by this because she had spent so much time making her posters.

When she got home, her mother called the school to find out why her daughter’s homemade campaign fliers were not approved. The answer? “Because it would make it unfair for the other candidates”. She was also informed that all campaign posters are supposed to be done using computers to make it fair.

Two problems.

First, isn’t making students do the work on computers inherently unfair? Not every student has a computer at home & if they do the work at school not every student has the same computer & creative skills to make a campaign poster that would look like everyone else.

Second, what is more inherently unfair than elections, whether in life or in school? Somebody has to lose & somebody has to win. In life, some candidates have a bunch of money, others do not. Some candidates have a grassroots effort in place & others do not. So why make elections fair in school? What possible lesson can you teach a kid if you level the playing field for a school election?!

Life is unfair & life’s outcomes are unfair. Yet our schools are teaching our kids that life IS fair & outcomes should be as fair as possible. That’s not how society works. That’s not how our economy works. That’s not how the workplace works. And it sure isn’t how elections work.

I’m ecstatic that my future granddaughter won her election but the ends don’t justify the means. She should have been able to campaign as she saw fit within normal school rules. The same goes for the other kids who ran for school office.

Why get bent out of shape over such a trivial thing when she won? Because “rules” like this are wussifying our kids to the reality of life & cuts down on any creativity or imagination they might have – the later an important skill to have in the workplace. This time it’ll be making school elections fair. Next time it’ll be getting rid of games that produce a clear winner & loser. Then it’ll be nobody gets an F on anything. Slippery slope my friends. Always, always be mindful of the future.

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