Heck of a campaign slogan. Heck. Of. A. Campaign. Slogan.
So a guy decides to run for State Rep in Illinois and his qualifications include three arrests: Larceny, Indecent Exposure and Trespassing. It sounds like the start of a bad joke, right? Sadly, this true story is a bad joke being played on Illinois voters. Big shout-out to Illinois Family Action (IFA), the political arm of The Illinois Family Institute (IFI), for this blunder.
What is the IFA/IFI? You need only go to their websites to find out what they’re all about. (Warning: Tinfoil cap on head required in order to understand these folks.)
The IFA is so busy making you afraid of it—they’re here, they’re staying, get over it—something that no mainstream American fears in the first place, that they can’t even vet their own candidate. In fact, it’s so difficult these days to find like-minded haters that the IFA clearly had to go really far afield to locate a candidate to play ball for them in an attempt to grab a House seat in Illinois’ 81st District.
Take Keith Matune, a teacher from Aurora, Illinois, backed by the ultra-conservative, gay-hating IFA. Two decades ago, Matune was arrested during a routine traffic stop for a broken headlight, at which time he was apprised of an out-of-state warrant with his name on it from Montgomery, Virginia. (Gotta love when a guy’s entre into the game of politics starts with an old mug shot.)
Okay, fine, you’re right, twenty-three years has passed since then. Stuff happens when you’re young. And, ya know, Matune wants us to believe that he learned his lesson. However, when called upon to explain what happened, Matune compounds the problem by lying, stating that it was an "innocent mistake" and that he was not arrested. Strike one.
Again, youth. Whatchagonna do? Expose yourself to the scrutiny of an Internet-savvy, realtime news-junkie public?
Well, yeah, literally. As in "indecent exposure." What is this, the slow-pitch league? Strike two.
Strike three? Criminal Trespass...
...(otherwise known as a 25-year-old man crawling into the women’s dorm at Purdue…where he was no longer enrolled).
Now, I’m all about forgiving youthful indiscretions. But, come on, where’s the cut-off man for this guy’s youth? He was 25 years old. That’s clearly the age for the grown-up’s league. Plus, as a woman, I just gotta say it: That’s creepy.
I don’t know about you, but my desperation to end all the wild pitches in politics has forced this weary voter to get into the game at the top of the fifth inning of her life. Thing is, I’m tired of same-old, same-old in local, state and national politics, otherwise known as lies and cover-ups.
There are basic principles mainstream voters long for: Honesty, Accountability and Decency. And the one common theme mainstream voters are tired of: Small, insidious hate groups so far left or so far right that they represent the views of such a miniscule percentage of the public that it would take a Scanning Transmission Electron Holography Microscope to clearly view the top of the little mushroom cap where their society perches.
So take a close look at the type of candidates that the IFA wants to push into the majors. If that’s the best they can do, they’re in serious trouble. Because if the goal of Illinois Family Action is to instill fear into our collective hearts by preaching family values with hate speech about those who might be in our own families, they’ve just hit the the voting public with a foul ball.
To answer the question on your mind, Why does a political pacifist from Cook County care about what’s going on in a highly conservative county 30 minutes from downtown Chicago? As Leo Durocher once said, he never questioned the integrity of an umpire, just their eyesight. Simply put: I’m questioning my neighbor’s eyesight.
Not only do we voters have a right to question the vision of prospective candidates and the groups that back them, it’s our obligation. I mean, let’s face it, Matune’s already got three strikes against him—three documented arrests—and when given the opportunity to explain, he compounds his problems with flat-out denials and lies. On my scorecard, three strikes and you’re out.
And four strikes? Misstating the facts on one's application for employment (as a teacher, no less), that's a no-brainer in my book. Lies and cover-ups are what make the voting public mistrust would-be politicians.
Sure, to some the 81st District of Illinois is the minor leagues. After all, it’s just a State House seat. But here’s a stat for the record books—as if we need reminding in Illinois—Rod Blagojevich’s first stop on the way to the Governor’s Mansion? An Illinois House Seat. Yep, it’s one small stop on the way to the majors—the Governor’s mansion or, worse, Washington. And in Illinois, we’re all too familiar with our prior Governors’ abilities to serve.
It's primary time all over this great country, otherwise known as spring training. The last thing the major leagues of politics needs are more lies and cover-ups, and divisive hate speech. So I’d say to my neighbors who own that franchise 30 miles west of me —on March 18th, send a strong message to the scouts that you don’t want Matune and the folks at the Illinois Family Institute in the big leagues.