I have to be honest with you. I had the majority of this written for a while but I've been holding onto it. I'll explain more further down.
Initially, this was going to be a little more harsh than it ultimately turned out to be. Recent events have caused me to tone down my rhetoric.
I'm not talking about anything that happened on Capitol Hill on January 6th, of course. That was a "mostly peaceful" protest ruined by a small percentage of bad actors and provocateurs. I'm talking about events in my personal life that have caused me to reflect and do my best to better my nature.
I'm being facetious, of course, and that comment was mostly a test to make it easier for me to differentiate between those who have a modicum of temperament required to function in society and those who can't even be bothered to engage their prefrontal cortex passed the first advertisement.
To be more clear, despite my disdain for their chosen profession I don't condone any violence against any persons or public officials, even those the target of my vitriol. At least, not yet. While it doesn't always work the way it's supposed to and some parts of it are in sorry shape and in desperate need of repair, we still have a process for demonstrating our dissatisfaction in the elected officials of this republic that doesn't require we smash the windows, kick in the doors, and burn down the buildings they and their staff are presently occupying. I condemn the behavior of that small percentage on Capitol Hill last week, just as I condemned the behavior of those who violently raged through my home city of Chicago last summer and the many other cities similarly affected causing far more actual damage.
Some of us try to be consistent.
I could do a long discourse on the foundational principles of the American Experiment and I'd be happy to do so for you sometime if you ask nicely, but I'm not really here to talk about that. I'm here to ask a simple question.
Is J.B. Pritzker unfit to lead the state of Illinois?
Unfit : not fit:
- A : not adapted to a purpose : unsuitable
- B : not qualified : incapable, incompetent
- C : physically or mentally unsound
When most hear reference of a politician as unfit, they generally mean the "B" in the above definition of the term. The ridiculous bloviations and demands for using the 25th amendment against President Trump, particularly from those who know better that the 25th amendment was always intended for actual incapacitation, would be an example of the "C" portion.
But what about the "A"? It's rarely, if ever, used in political contexts. Why not? By definition, it's just as valid?
I admit, it's likely because it's the hardest to define and clarify but I'll do my best. The "A" version of the definition was always the best reasoning opponents of President Trump had against him, but they were generally too hysterical to string rational thought together let alone make coherent argument, and it's the "A" version of the definition that I want to discuss below in relation to Governor Pritzker.
While he had long expressed an interest in politics, including a 3rd place finish in Illinois' 9th District when he was in his early 30s, it wasn't until the 2018 Gubernatorial that J.B. Pritzker found it necessary to push his chips in and finally fully satisfy the donation requirements of the Friends of Michael J. Madigan to get himself elected to his first public office.
Governor. Gov'nor. Gov'nah. Gov. It's a title that has always had a nice ring to it. Go ahead and try it with your own last name. Feels good, right?
Always a big title to aim for, to be sure, but we all know that when you've reached the stature and divine blessedness of being born Pritzker, you don't need to do anything small. Go big or go home, as they say.
His surname certainly had the requisite recognition and J.B. certainly had the financial resources to make such a play as a first time elected official. Throw a big (D) behind your name in this town and pair it with the abyssal pockets of a Pritzker, a smile here, a kiss of the baby there, a promise and a wink anywhere, a donation or two to the necessary Chicago gatekeepers, and that's all it really takes. It was a lesson that took J.B. a while to learn, but he eventually wised up. Probably after he was caught on the FBI wiretap with Blago. Toss a couple extra dollars toward an inauguration party to make all involved in the machine feel good about themselves dressed up fancy on a weeknight and that's all it really takes to pacify the fawning establishment wannabes and costumed social justice caricatures out of Northwestern's Medill, Syracuse's Newhouse, or Missouri-Columbia Schools that fashion and disguise themselves as objective arbiter elegantiae of our culture and discourse while staffing failing local media properties still attempting to disguise themselves as institutions and still failing to realize they're being used as merely part of the furniture and props upon the stage.
He ran and he won. Fair and square. And Illinois' finest morality magistrates could continue to roam the big, brash, bold streets of our fine city with their heads held high in fealty to the Party and continue their holy indignation toward those lessers than they who would even dream of electing a tax-dodging big business billionaire who pays them lip service. Thanks be to Go-...I mean, Science.
Upon assuming office, J.B. got right to work. Despite the state of Illinois hemorrhaging almost as many of its citizens as it does cash, he vowed and pushed for greater tax increases. Moves you might be shocked to know received next to zero pushback from The Party.
But pushing for tax increases is not something that would disqualify anyone for office in the state of Illinois. In fact it's more likely to get them a statue or, at the very least, a namesake highway. I'm sure we have a spare interchange laying around somewhere. Increasing and creating new taxes has become a sort of rite of passage for the Illinois politician and something all the fine genii of this great state advocate just as they would to the their own family pocketbooks when facing an incomprehensible debt they couldn't possibly begin to pay down. Just stop being broke, silly.
But that's no matter. A statue or highway wouldn't mean much to a man with his last name already attached to half the buildings in northeast Illinois, anyway.
Sworn into office in early 2019, his administration would try and sell a budget as balanced though everyone knew that was a lie and it was received with little more than eye roll. No big deal. Illinois politicians have been trying to sell that line for decades.
The budget lie was followed by a glowing push for the legalization of marijuana and gambling that the administration tried to sell as a magical panacea to ease our woes, save us from our financial burdens, and lift our dour spirits. Again it was met with little more than eye roll from anyone with any knowledge of Illinois taxation and obligations, but it was a big win for J.B. with your friend from high school who is really more like an acquaintance on Facebook and who was a little too into gettin' hiiiiiiiigh back in the day and who swears bro all the problems in Illinois are over now that everyone can partake in the sacred ritual of the puff-puff-pass without the oppressive condescending looks from the maaaaaaaaaaaan, man.
So J.B. had that going for him.
And then blah blah blah the usual overspending was portrayed as yet another new day in Illinois yada yada yada.
You know, the usual. Nothing extraordinary. Outside of the posturing against President Trump, indistinguishable from any other Illinois administration kicking the cans down the road. The same Pritzker safe approach that allows the laissez-faire citizens of this state to just let things keep on keepin' on.
The Black Swan
An historical event such as this novel coronavirus is a worrisome prospect for all of us but it is particularly terrifying for the politician. For it is all politicians who, deep down, even though they may profess to want revolutionary change or signal their time to be the hour of awakening or claim themselves heralds of some new dawn, secretly pray for calm. For in all politicians, despite their perceived confidence in themselves that is really better described as an arrogance and ignorance of the self required to declare that they know how to run your life and guide the community better than you do, deep down and whether they even know it or not, is the self doubt inherent in all of us.
Still, it is the politician's job to, in the face of such worry and panic and terror, suppress those feelings and make the best decisions for all in the community. It is, quite literally, what the politician signed up for. It was they, the politician, who declared themselves to be the best fit to make these decisions for you and yours. And it is J.B. Pritzker himself who, after endeavoring to win the job to be the person to make the best decisions for all in this state community, it is required he be held accountable and face the criticisms for the decisions made under the title he so desired.
But J.B. Pritzker doesn't want to do that. He wants his cake.
He made a big show of his daily COVID press briefings until he didn't. They couldn't keep up the charade any longer.
His daily press briefings were where stats were presented without context and where little to zero explanation for any decision making was made beyond "hurr durr duh Science" and where any Illinois resident who would question those decisions were treated as little more than a rube incapable of comprehending his great wisdom. I'll leave the irony of a man who can't understand the science behind putting down his own fork lecturing us about our understanding of "duh science" for another time, but Pritzker and his dutiful press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh liked to dress up this daily press briefing act as something akin to government transparency when, in reality, that's exactly what it was. An act. Theatre. The press briefing equivalent of a southern California weather report. And with his and Jordan Abudayyeh's continued dismissals of any relevant questions and their withholding of any information that would actually help anyone in Illinois make the best decision for their families, that theatre more closely resembled what was seen onstage in my high school's theatre/cafeteria in our teenage attempts at absurdist improv than it did resembling anything seen at Steppenwolf. In other words, not good.
I know, I know, some of you will immediately jump to the thought that I must be some anti-science/covid-denying troglodyte drooling onto his keyboard with separate browser tabs open reading the Gospel of Q-Anon and/or searching for tips on how best to inform police officers of my rights as a free-traveler on libertarian supertollways but, I assure you, that is far from the case. And I know, I know, J.B. Pritzker and Jordan Abudayyeh's and maybe even your own response would be something along the lines of "it is/was for the greater good," and other platitudes that are synonymous registered trademarks of the Party and all its subordinates.
Not for the big boys, though, no sir. They were "essential" businesses that needed to stay open for the greater good. Your small business had to close but theirs had to stay open. Too many people rely on them, don't you see, child?
You know the essential businesses. Big box retailers. Fast food chains. Entertainment conglomerates. You know, the Hyatt Hotel Pritzker family friends.
You didn't think I meant anything like schools or churches or charities or small businesses that weren't a nationally known and publicly traded company, did you? lol. Don't be silly.
After all, who needs to leave your house when you can just have Amazon™ deliver? Come on, do your part. What? You don't have Amazon Prime™? Just buy Amazon Prime™, dummy, it's a helluva deal. Do your part. It's for the greater good. Look, if you don't like Amazon™ you could also get whatever you want from Walmart™. Do your part. Come on everybody, why do you need to go out and see a show or a concert at a small theatre when you can just stay in and watch anything you want right from your couch? You have XFinity™ from Comcast™ or AT&T Uverse™ or DirecTV™, right? There's plenty of fun and awesome options to enjoy on AppleTV™, Disney+™, HBOMax™, YouTube™, Netflix™, Sony™ PlayStation™, Microsoft™ XBox™, or any other home entertainment services. I hope you put some of your savings into the market, now's a great time to buy these big boys! Hey, did you see the baby Yoda™ from the Star Wars™? So cute, right? Come on, do your part. Just don't go see your family. Order in from Domino's™. Oh wait hey you could support your local restaurant using GrubHub™, UberEats™, or DoorDash™? Make sure you show and tell everyone on Facebook™ and Twitter™ and Instagram™ and whatever other hot new social media I don't know about yet when you do. Nevermind that your local restaurants and bars make most of their profits off dine-in and alcohol sales and their wait staff and cooks primarily earn through tips. Sorry, don't go see your family. Do your part. It's for the greater good.
I'm probably being a jerk, aren't I?
It's just that J.B. Pritzker and Jordan Abudayyeh are so cavalier with the greater good. And, if Illinois citizens are willing to accept such justification without demand of a definition for the greater good, anything after can be justified.
Yeah, I'm probably being a jerk.
It's just that not once during these daily statistical press briefings did J.B. Pritzker or Jordan Abudayyeh seem to care or be bothered to ever review just how many small businesses their lockdown policies were destroying nor did either care to acknowledge just how many of the employees who worked for those small businesses livelihoods were being stripped from them by their government. They chose to spend that time blaming the national administration, seemingly unaware or inable to comprehend that Illinois is a constituent political entity holding its own governmental jurisdiction of which J.B. Pritzker was literally in charge.
Not once did we hear about the science and data they were using to calculate the amount of small businesses they were willing to accept fail for this greater good. Not once during these daily statistical press briefings did J.B. Pritzker or Jordan Abudayyeh or Dr. Ezike or Lori Lightfoot or Dr. Arwady or whoever seem to care or be bothered to ever review or acknowledge or source just how much science and data they looked at and compared, analyzed and pored over, to understand just how many people with other conditions like heart disease, cancer, alzheimers, diabetes, kidney disease, or whatever else you want to list would be affected and not be seen by their doctors either out of fear or because of confusion over lockdown policy. Not once did they address just how many excess and unnecessary deaths their lockdowns would cause in those patients forced to delay cancer screenings, for example. Not once did they offer a single statistic on the expected amount of drug overdoses and suicides and not once did they provide the analysis they were using to determine what level of physical and psychological impact the stress of losing ones livelihood can have on people and their families and what statistics they deemed acceptable and justified for the greater good. Not once did they address the science and data they were using to determine what timetable beyond two more weeks was acceptable for them to bring these silly things like livelihood back to the citizens of Illinois.
We were just expected to trust them. They know what's good for us. They know what's best for the greater good. Who are we to dare question the peerless reason and logic of our elected officials when they invoke such divine commandment?
But let's cut the inherited billionaire "entrepreneur" some slack. I'm probably being unfair.
How could anyone possibly expect someone like J.B. Pritzker to possibly understand the daily trials and tribulations of the small businessman/woman and the people who work for them? How could anyone possibly hold him to account for poor decision making?
J.B. Pritzker is the 2nd wealthiest elected official in the history of the United States, behind Mike Bloomberg of New York. And no, you don't need to look it up, Pritzker money dwarfs any despised namesake signs seen on hotels along the Chicago river.
Before I go further, I want to be clear. I am not a classist and this is not a denunciation of privilege. His family built a great business and I'm not a person who decries wealth, period. If a man or woman works hard and provides a valuable good or service, as far as I'm concerned, they deserve to make as much money as their little hearts desire and do with it as they see fit for themselves and their posterity. I could not care less if someone wants to build an ivory tower to themselves and bathe in liquid gold and lock themselves away forever. It'd be a pretty boring life, in my opinion, but whatever floats your Theodora.
The only thing I expect in return for this arrangement is to be left to do the same for my own if we so choose and I take issue when someone like J.B. Pritzker gets in the way.
The reason I point out, highlight, and underline J.B. Pritzker's inherited fortune has not to do with the amount of dollars and cents, it is used to elucidate and enunciate my reaction to his behavior in the face of a great crisis to the state of Illinois and its residents. It is used to note that it's this great wealth that is part of the inherent reason that makes him so incapable of rising to this moment and so unfit to lead the state of Illinois in this or any future moment.
Raised in one of America's wealthiest families, sent to some of this nation's most expensive private schools, J.B. Pritzker has want for nothing in his life. Nothing. If they were to walk away from it all right this very instant, every single Pritzker could, for generation after generation after generation, retain a lifestyle that most of us can not even dream. Never in his life has he experienced a single day, not one single minute of financial peril. He has never once had to weather a financial storm. He has never experienced, never lived a single day, without any and every door being open and available to him. Not one day.
But now we're expected to listen to this person tell you that you can't work? We're expected to let him remove from us a year of our potential earnings and investment toward our own family's future? And we're expected to pay more in taxes for the privilege? I mean, he can do it, why can't you?
No, I am not a classist. I do not decry the wealth, I decry the man.
As happens all too often with men and women raised in such comfort, when a crisis hits - a real crisis hits - they are so little affected they don't know how to rightly function in front of others. Or, the affect is put on and worn like an old coat. A novelty that doesn't quite fit right. Enveloped in a deep and very human scar of uncomfortability, a shiver from some long past of a stigma of what once was or what could be again.
J.B. Pritzker could have been creative in his response. Anyone in his administration could have, really. An attempt could have been made.
Of course a virus exists. Of course we should use common sense and do our best to stop the spread of that virus. But no decision J.B. or his administration made had any sense at all let alone anything close to common.
When it was clear early on that people under the age of 40 years old had a 6X greater chance of being shot and killed in ANY neighborhood in Chicago, not just the "bad" neighborhoods in ANY neighborhood, than they did of dying from COVID he could have pushed. He could have led the charge. Hell, he could have begged and pleaded with Illinoisans under 40 years old to go out and keep our economy going. He could have led that charge and pleaded with them that their neighbors needed their help now more than ever and that they needed to work hard for the elderly and those with the most compromised immune systems and for whom it was necessary to keep distance.
He did not. He blamed them.
Chicagoans like to boast and brag and sit on high horses and sneer over the rest of the state that the city is this land's primary economic engine. They're not wrong. It is. But when it became clear early on that density and proximity played a significant factor in the spread of this virus (something we've known of all respiratory diseases since the beginning of time) he could have led the charge or begged and pleaded with those outside of the collar counties that this was their time to get the city back for all those lectures all these years. That this was their chance to show off. He could have said that it was their time to help and that we really needed them now. He could have at least pretended to be a leader and encourage that they can do it and that they needed to go out and work hard for those stuck in tightly packed townhomes and brownstones and apartments and in highly concentrated suburbs, most of whom could work from home, anyway. He could have led the people of Illinois and made decisions that would help keep the economy going and its least vulnerable working hard for their fellow most vulnerable Illinois citizens.
He did not. Despite zero statistics to back it up, he told small towns and rural regions with little if any sign of significant spread that they needed to follow the same mitigation measures as those in the Gold Coast.
It was a truly stunning display of a lack of imagination by all involved. They chose to lock down and...nope, that's it. And I have to imagine Jordan Abudayyeh was all too quick to whisper, "Also, remind them to shut up if they don't like it."
A politician's family members, particularly those that have nothing to do with the politics themselves and those who hold no significant sway or influence over the finer points in a politician's policy making, should remain separate from debate and disagreement.
Off the top of my head, I can think of some pretty nasty occasions in American history when this has not been the case. Grover Cleveland's son Oscar in the 1884 Presidential election comes to mind. Andrew Jackson's wife Rachel Donelson is another. But there are many more examples.
No one should attack a politician's family. I would hope that's something on which we can all agree.
Still, that has rarely stopped the politician from playing the family card when it is politically convenient for them to do so and when no attack has occurred. The hemming and the hawing over family matters is a tried and true political tactic. An easy shield to deflect criticism and garner sympathy. But when the family card is played and no attack has occurred, even in the ostensible, the politician quickly devolves from mere egotist to nothing short of a scoundrel.
I do not expect much from politicians, but for J.B. Pritzker to lecture you and tell you and your family to stay in your homes and not work and for him to close bars and restaurants and small businesses where your friends and family work or entertain, and for him to declare your kids can't play sports or go out together in a group let alone to school, and for him to say you and your family can't go to church but you can go to a protest unless that protest is against him or The Party, and for him and his illustrious and wise staff to declare you and your livelihood "non-essential," and then for him to turn around and send his own family out of state to enjoy their grand estates and "working farms" and to go boating and get ice cream in Lake Geneva or to Florida so his kids can participate in sports and social life or go to the Bahamas to enjoy a Thanksgiving vacation...well that's a special, special brand of hypocrisy that takes a uniquely out of touch, scoundrel of a politician.
And then, to borrow a Bobby Rushism, he has the "unmitigated gall" to hide behind his family and say to anyone who would merely note this hypocrisy that it's despicable? That it's unfair to criticize his family while telling you what you and yours can and can't do?
Again, I want to be very clear here. I am not attacking any person in his family. No one should attack his family in any sense of the term. I do not care what the Pritzker family does, quite frankly. This is a criticism of J.B. Pritzker and J.B. Pritzker alone. A criticism of his decision making. Not anyone else in his family. It is directed at him. He is the one who ran for office and he is the one who declared himself best fit to lead the state of Illinois. And he is the one who decided it was okay for his family and not yours.
I wish me and my family could just jet off to our many different homes in states operating outside Illinois' divinely inspired mitigation measures that are so nonsensically arbitrary they would make Pisarev weep with joy and Kierkegaard pull out his hair in anger. I wish me and my family could not worry about our mortgages and our retirement plans and our children's futures and just jet off to other states with far better financial affairs. It sure would be nice.
But, hey, I'm no inherited billioniare. I'm stuck here. Just like you.
Stuck in J.B. Pritzker's Illinois.
We barely scratched the surface on his push to raise taxes. We did not begin to discuss that, even if his push to raise taxes had made it through the November ballot, all of his analysis and budgetary planning further demanded a bailout from the federal government in order for the state to remain operational and does not begin to address a single aspect of the pension debt crisis that began to infect this place long before the first COVID cough. A bailout from that same federal government he was so quick to criticize under previous administration. We did not mention the McCormick Place pop-up hospital that he may as well have lit the money on fire. We did not mention that he chose to play politics and pretend he couldn't get more vaccine or better rollout when he is the man in charge of Illinois and he could have done any number of things to get more but it was him and his administration who chose to hold back 50% of the doses to make sure they didn't run out later. We didn't mention his neglect and squeezing of his eyes and holding his hands over his ears in addressing or giving any opinion on out of control teachers unions and barely discussed the affect on the education or lack thereof of Illinois' kids nor did we discuss his complete shuttering of their extracurriculars. We did not begin to mention he has entirely ignored or refused to wade into anything regarding the out of control crime in and around the city of Chicago or make his opinion known regarding the prosecutions of said crimes. We did not begin to discuss the Shakespearean tragedy that is what he and his administration have allowed to happen to the elderly, particularly those in assisted living, who are alone, restricted, and cut off from contact with their families living quite possibly the last days and months of their lives regardless of COVID only now they're also without and cut off from love and laughter and care and compassion from their families, something a sane society would rightly consider abhorrent.
And we did not discuss the fact that, as of this morning, Illinois sits firmly at #11 for COVID deaths per 100,000 of its population, greater than every state that surrounds us in the upper Midwest and far greater than states with a far more lax approach to mitigation than Illinois, signifying that near zero of J.B. Pritzker or his administration's actual decisions for the entirety of this last year have worked whatsoever.
But hey, he legalized weed and gambling, bro.
It's Good to Be the King
Daily statistical briefings without context or clarity is not transparency, it's theatre. Professing solidarity while behaving inharmoniously to your own declarations is not sincerity, it's hypocrisy. Restricting the very livelihoods of your constituents and threatening additional consequence through taxation during any time let alone an economic crisis the likes of which has not been seen since the Great Depression is not leadership, I'd call it demagoguery if it weren't so politically amateurish. And refusing to admit mistakes or reevaluate your position while ignoring or refusing creativity and adaptability in potential solutions is not reason and it is not courage, it's incompetence.
And please spare us from the public service excuse. At the Pritzker or the Bloomberg or the Trump level of wealth there is zero necessity to play politician in these United States. If J.B. were truly committed to "service" there is far, far, far more he could do through charity than he could as chief decision maker for Illinoisans and their futures. Hell, Jimmy Carter's 96 years old and still building houses somewhere.
Listen, I'm not going to pretend I know how J.B. Pritzker feels about himself through the dark nights of his soul, where all things quiet be. That is for him and him alone to know. But, try and convince me as you may, forgive me if I just don't see any other real reason a man from one of the wealthiest families in our country (I believe at last count they were in the Top 10 when put together) would have any interest in putting himself and his family and his family business under the scrutiny and pressures of such a political position beyond mere ego.
Men of a certain age often experience a phenomenon that leads to a reassessment of the lives they've lived. A phenomenon that can be triggered by a variety of causes. Sudden changes to careers, relationships, physical illness, close friend or family death. Whatever it may be, it brings a man's present age into sharp focus and forces a confrontation with our inevitable mortality and perceived lack of accomplishments in life.
To many, the mid-life crisis is a cultural stereotype, a joke, and a meme that makes easy cannon fodder for late night talk show hosts and hack comedians. To others, it's a topic of gossip and rumor for local busy bodies or a point of concern for friends, family, and personal acquaintances. Just as the trigger that causes its onset can vary, how a man responds to these changes takes form in a variety of ways. Some men go out and spend their money on a classic roadster or stretch a little too far beyond their budget for a new luxury vehicle, some choose to spend a few to 10 years and a little too far beyond their budget attempting to date women far too young for their intellect, and some men go out and buy Governorships.
But here there is no inherited rule of Kings. The Governor was not gifted leadership of the state of Illinois the way he was gifted his Hyatt inheritance. Rather than have an internal battle within to prove to himself his inheritance wasn't wasted, he chose to run for public office.
I have to imagine J.B. thought it was going to be easy. Little more than a brief stint of time no different than 4 years at any of the prestigious private schools he attended. A tasty little cakewalk on the way to a possible Presidential run or, at the very least, something to add to his personal legacy and resume with which he can taunt his many brother's and sister's at future Pritzker Family reunions and holiday meals. I have to imagine that J.B. Pritzker imagined getting elected Governor of the State of Illinois, elected to lead one of the most historically and categorically corrupt states in this union, elected to lead a state that has been decimated financially due to such incompetence and inept mismanagement by prior and enduring leadership that it's difficult to understand it's not fiction, elected to lead a state under a Party banner whose constituent base has become so passively obtuse and blinded by a seemingly unabashed, unashamed, and inexplicable loyalty to The Party that the previous incompetence and mismanagement is so wholly and mind bogglingly ignored it has become akin to legend and mythos known far and wide across this great land, elected to lead a state where that same Party and its operatives and foot soldiers have become so ingrained and entrenched in the bureaucracy that it would make those in charge of the tentacles at S.P.E.C.T.R.E. blush in awe at the comparison and where any opposition has become so subdued and sheepish it is hardly treated as laughing stock let alone anything resembling even mild literary foil.
In truth, it's hard to blame him for this idea because, yes, it probably would have been easy for J.B. Pritzker. In Illinois, where all of the above is true, there remains no where to go but up.
But those pesky black swans had other ideas. They always do.
Since March of last year when COVID-19 first began to spread J.B. Pritzker has made one decision and one decision only. To lockdown. Lockdown to an extent that not even Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer, Governor Cruella de Vil, was willing to go.
That one decision only leads us to three potential reasons.
A: He was so terrified of the virus or so terrified over the decision making surrounding the virus that he was frozen into inaction. Like a deer caught in the headlights of his personal and political future bearing down on him he had no clue how to make any decision to get himself out the situation.
B: He didn't care. Or maybe, better said, due to his lived experience he was so utterly obtuse to the severity and significance of what he was doing that he was incapable of comprehending what his policies were doing.
C: He did it for political reasons.
So which is it, J.B.?
Any of the three makes him unfit to lead the state of Illinois but, the first two, while fundamentally unqualifying for leadership, could still be somewhat morally and ethically defensible. In any case, there are more than enough Party members in this town more than willing to play the orchestral strings of their bleeding hearts for him and any who'll listen. I have no doubt that's what Pritzker's administration will try to encourage to salvage this catastrophe.
But that third reason...
You're probably wondering what I meant at the top when I said I have been saving this piece and, as I mentioned, I've been trying to be better about giving people the benefit of the doubt.
So I waited. I waited to see just when J.B. would begin to reopen.
I have to confess to you there was a part of me that didn't want him to start lifting the restrictions this week. As the day of President Biden's inauguration approached, I have to admit I secretly hoped in some strange version of hope that no matter how I felt about his policies and the damage they were doing to the citizens of this state, that he wouldn't do what so many of us expected him to do. Maybe he wasn't that guy?
For his sake, I hoped it wasn't C.
"Come on, J.B.," I thought. "Don't be this blatant about it..."
And then, sure enough, the week of the inauguration of President Biden and the new national administration, he and Lori Lightfoot and all others involved in their infinite wisdom, suddenly decide, "You know, maybe we should start to open up and relax some of these restrictions, eh?"
Right on cue.
Deep down I knew it was coming but, I admit, I remain a little floored by the audacity. J.B. is finally starting to allow the state of Illinois to reopen. The science and data is clear. Trust them. They know what's best.
When all this is over...
Listen, I understand the person reading this may hate Donald Trump. I get it. You can hate him all you want. He deserves plenty of criticism. But this is not a referendum on Donald Trump. This is a question of J.B. Pritzker's integrity. He is the Governor of Illinois. This is a question of his creativity and critical thinking skills. This is a question of his ability to lead.
When all this is over, and it will someday be over, in 5 or 10 years from now when the final report on the COVID response is published there will be a scramble from all politicians and their interns and staffers on all sides to reimagine and repurpose whatever COVID statistics they can glean to fit whatever narrative they'd chosen and whatever story they think will get the swing voter to close the curtain behind them in the little booth at their local VFW and decide in their favor. It's what politicians do.
And in 5 or 10 years, the only question left will be whether or not you forgot what people like J.B. Pritzker took from you?
If you can honestly and genuinely look at the timing of this situation and not see it for what it is, that this novel coronavirus has morphed from a challenge into a political nightmare in which your state government is complicit, then I'm unlikely to be able to help you. If you can look at this situation with honesty and clarity and not understand that J.B. Pritzker was ready and willing to play politics with your lives and livelihoods along with that of your loved ones, that he was willing to shut down and sacrifice all of your local businesses and the businesses of your neighbors and your friends and strip them of their livelihoods, that he was willing to scrape a year off your childrens' educational and social lives and sacrifice their physical and mental well-being for political and personal gain, then I'm unlikely to be able to help you. And if you think that doing so is acceptable of your elected officials, acceptable in any sense of the word, I don't think I can help you.
In any case, it's too little, too late.
J.B. Pritzker has proven he is unfit for the moment. And he has proven he is unfit to lead the state of Illinois or lead any future government.
He is that guy. He is what everyone expected.
When all this is over, there will be a lot of people whose behavior this last year I won't soon forget. Governor J.B. Pritzker will be near the top of my list.
I won't forget. And the state of Illinois and the rest of America's citizens should not forget either.
For the greater good.
Rick Pearson, Jeff Coen. “New Pritzker-Blagojevich Audio from FBI Wiretaps Sheds Light on Race Issue in Governor Contest,” February 6, 2018. https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-met-illinois-democratic-governor-race-20180205-story.html ↩︎
You'll have to forgive me for borrowing a metaphor from Hitchens. ↩︎
Fawcett, Eliza. “Gov. Pritzker's Speedboats among Most Expensive on Geneva Lake.” chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune, July 2, 2019. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-pritzker-luxury-boat-citation-details-20190701-h4k6eaxnf5ahfmpmes3ze46mki-story.html ↩︎
“Chicago Crime, Murder & Mayhem: Criminal Infographics.” HeyJackass! Accessed January 24, 2021. https://heyjackass.com/.
NOTE: I said shot AND killed. Not just shot. The number was far higher for "only" being shot. ↩︎
I mean, seriously, learn to read a room, bud. ↩︎