By now, the entire world knows and has heard State Senator Rickey Hendon's tirade against state Senator Bill Brady. If you are one of the few who missed it, here is what Hendon said in introducing Gov. Pat Quinn at a rally last Saturday.
"I've never served with such an idiotic, racist, sexist, homophobic person in my life. If you think that the minimum wage needs to be three dollars an hour, vote for Bill Brady. If you think that women have no rights whatsoever, except to have his children, vote for Bill Brady. If you think gay and lesbian people need to be locked up and shot in the head, vote for Bill Brady."
When I spoke about the issue on the radio show I co-host every Sunday night (Garfield Show, WRLL 1450-AM, 10 till midnight), I was taken to task because quite a few audience members were in agreement with the comment. Many verbally attacked me because they assumed that my calling for fair reporting and that "every coin has two sides" was an endorsement of support for Brady. Had they listened, they would have learned that my goal in taking an opposite position was to get them to think and to see the other side of the issue. For the most part, it didn't work.
The most common response I heard was that Hendon had the "right" to say what he did.
Now having the right doesn't automatically give one the license to so do - especially when the comments aren't accompanied by examples of what made Hendon call Brady a "racist." That is a very strong term to use. It labels someone and without substance to back it up, it then becomes mere conjecture and not reality.
Now had Hendon called Brady an "elitist," that is an adjective easier to prove and even easier to apply. Brady is a millionaire and his wealth alone is not in question. When one struggles to gain wealth, they know they've earned every dime and are reticent to buy into social programs that come off the taxes on their earnings. I've always said if you want to turn a black person into a Republican, let them come into a whole bunch of money. Suddenly the idea of giving 30-40 percent of your money to the government isn't an enticing idea, especially if you see the money wasted more than serving a true purpose. My favorite example occurred years ago when someone who was on welfare won the lottery and balked at the idea of paying back the money he had received from the state. The man felt he was "entitled" to that state money.
When politicians stand true to their convictions, they will be attacked. One of the things each of us must look into is the reason why politicians don't support a particular bill. For example, the Democrats in Congress added a provision to give citizenship to foreign nationals, here illegally but who came as children, onto a major spending bill for the military. The Dream Act is a very contentious issue and to add it to a bill about military spending guaranteed that the bill would fail. So when politicians who are opposed to granting citizenship to those here illegally stand by their convictions and voted down the bill, it would be very easy to label them "anti-military" when in reality the issue was the addition to the bill and not the bill itself.
I like to see people given all sides on a candidate and an issue. Then, based on what they learned, they make a decision to support or not support a candidate. What I don't want is for us to continue blindly supporting a party that gives us nothing until the next election, where promises are made and always broken.
This Sunday night, Gov. Pat Quinn has agreed to come on Garfield's show. I have not been a big supporter of him and have criticized some things he has done. If you're like me and haven't made up your mind about who to vote for, tune in Sunday night. Be prepared for hard questions and to hear if he has answers. Then base your vote on who will serve you best.
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