On Sunday, the New Trier Dems held their annual fundraising dinner. The turnout was impressive. And as the crowd gathered during the social hour prior to the dinner, the energy generated by so many politically engaged Democrats was palpable.
I suppose that’s not surprising as we approach a crucially important election year. However, there seemed to be an additional vibe to the evening that struck me as unusual. Some of this feeling may have simply come from the exceptional number of serious candidates mingling with the crowd. But I think beyond that, there was an undercurrent of urgency in the conversations I had or overheard that I haven’t felt in years – or maybe never.
Without specifically saying the words, a lot of thoughtful people are starting to recognize that the United States is in real danger of being destroyed or at the least permanently disfigured by our psychologically defective President and his blindly loyal supporters.
I never felt this vibe during the bumbling years of George W. Bush with his disastrous involvement in Iraq. Nor during the Vietnam War years when our country was so deeply divided. Or even during Nixon’s Watergate crimes (when, thankfully, we still had a Congress that wasn’t dysfunctional). Back then I knew our country was being harmed but I never had this sense that we were in danger of forever losing America’s potential to be a better nation.
That’s the danger we face today. Maybe this sense of foreboding is not much different from what Tea Partiers feared after the election of Barack Obama. Their fears were irrational and unwarranted but they energized an activist movement that gained disproportionate power in Congress. Fear of a threat, real or imagined, is always a great motivator. Perhaps today the majority of Americans are beginning to see how perilous these times are for our United States. Attending a gathering like Sunday’s NTDO Dinner does help me hold on to that hope.
And now… the details of Sunday’s dinner segment, thanks to Maggiano’s family-style format we were able to comfortably listen to the speakers while we ate. This moved the evening along at a nice pace. Our Democratic Committeeman, Dean Maragos, led things off by recognizing dignitaries in attendance (too many to mention here). He then introduced Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky who fired up the crowd with grassroots action plans for turning nearby House seats in Illinois and Wisconsin blue. Then Congressman Mike Quigley, a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, took the podium. Without revealing any specifics about alleged Russian involvement in our 2016 Presidential Election, he characterized the affair as tantamount to a foreign invasion. Serious stuff, in an investigation far from finished.
Next on the evening’s agenda were Democratic candidates for Illinois’ Governor and Illinois’ Attorney General. — All of the candidates’ comments were brief thanks to prearranged time limits and the diligent (but gentle) oversight of the segment’s M.C., County Commissioner Larry Suffredin. I won’t attempt to sum up what each of them said. They each had their own style, qualifications and talking points but most did share the priorities you’d expect from good Democrats.
The NTDO Endorsement Session will not be held until January. But it’s not too soon to begin becoming familiar with the candidates for these two top Illinois offices. And the same goes for the healthy list of Democratic candidates vying for the Illinois House 17th District seat. It’s being vacated by our State Rep. Laura Fine. And familiarize yourself with Laura too. She’s running for the Illinois Senate 9th District seat being vacated by State Senator Daniel Biss (now running for Governor). To help you learn more about all the Democratic candidates who attended the Dinner, I’ve listed them just below this commentary.
The NTDO has long encouraged citizens to become involved in public service. This group of candidates who’ve stepped forward to serve is impressive, as are their backgrounds. Altogether they are a healthy sign that we Democrats aren’t ready to give up on believing in rational, representative government at every level of our Democracy.
NTDO member since 1973
Illinois Attorney General:
Scott Drury, IL State Rep, 58th District
Aaron Goldstein, 33rd Ward Committeeman
Kwame Raoul, IL State Senator 13th District
Nancy Rotering, Mayor of Highland Park
Jesse Ruiz, Board of Commisioners, Park District
Illinois State Representative – 58th District:
U.S. Representative – Illinois 6th District:
Cook County Assessor:
Frederick (Fritz) Kaegi