When he ran for governor in 2014, Bruce Rauner labored under the misconception that his money totally insulated him against the troglodyte wing of his party. Well, in 2014 this was mostly true. It had been twelve years since Republicans held the office and they were hungering for the power and perks that went with it. They were SO hungry that they were willing to overlook Mr. Rauner's apostasy on certain social issues. The fact that Mr. Rauner was going to run against an incumbent who was a certified doofus certainly helped.
But now we're coming up to the 2018 election cycle. We've been "treated" to two years of the Rauner School of Management and, quite frankly, our present governor is beginning to make his predecessor look pretty darned good. So much so that his chances of winning reelection are not exactly what you'd call rosy. He'll need every Republican vote out there that isn't nailed down. This opens the door to the extreme right wing of his party to exert the kind of influence on him that they couldn't in 2014. All they have to do is remind the good governor just how MUCH he'll need their support and they only need four little words to do it, "We'll just stay home!".
Given the moderately conservative nature of American society, a center right political party could probably hold on to political power in this country for the next generation. What can keep the Republicans from BEING that party? Its extreme right wing. A moderate Republican could expect to sweep the day against an often confused and certainly ambivalent opponent in the Democratic Party. What's preventing this? Moderate Republicans still depend on the conservative wing of their party for its money, enthusiasm, and sheer determination. Unfortunately, the price a Republican moderate must pay in order to purchase this support is the very thing that will give them unlimited power in the first place, their political moderation. It's a lesson Bruce Rauner is learning at this very minute.
That's why it comes as no surprise that Mr. Rauner is tilting toward the pro life part of this state's political equation. When Mitch McConnell finagled the Antonin Scalia seat away from Merrick Garland and bent the rules to put Neil Gorsuch on the Court, he virtually guaranteed that the issue of Roe v. Wade would once again confront the Supreme Court. And it's pretty clear where Mr. Justice Gorsuch stands on the issue. If he can use his alleged "intellectual heft" to swing Anthony Kennedy over to the pro life side of the argument, women's reproductive rights will once again become a potent political football. But even if Justice Kennedy remains steadfast in his support for Roe v. Wade, who knows how long the Court's two resident octogenarian liberals, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, can hold out? President Trump may well be able to transform the Supreme Court into the judicial branch of the Republican Party and produce the kind of conservative Court the Republican Radical Right has been salivating over for the past four decades. This will make control of the governor's office here in Illinois crucial to the fate of women's reproductive rights for decades to come. That's why Bruce Rauner has come over to the Dark Side of the Force. His so-called political moderation may have won him plaudits from liberal reporters and columnists. He may even have won the high regard of editorial boards all over this state. But that won't cut it for Republican conservatives in 2018. Hence the switch.
Maybe it will work. Maybe he can pull it off and win re-election next year. But before he signs any long term lease on the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, it might be prudent of him to consider this small bit of sage advice: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!".
Filed under: Politics