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National Editorials & Columns

Politics descend into hostage-taking

Gov. Pat Quinn, meet Dylan McDermott.

He has a thing or two to teach about holding people captive.

McDermott plays rogue FBI Special Agent Duncan Carlisle in the television nail-biter “Hostages.” He and his team capture the family of Dr. Ellen Sanders just before she is to perform surgery on the president of the United States. The ultimatum: Kill the president or her family dies.

Now that’s a shakedown.

We’re not suggesting such an extreme by any means. But it’s clear politicos have taken a turn down that road of holding people captive until demands are met.

It’s a page from the Washington playbook, and Quinn has it down to the letter.

Don’t like something being proposed? Refuse to negotiate, compromise or more than barely acknowledge it exists.

Casinos? Don’t deal with the issue, telling lawmakers to solve the pension crisis first.

When the pension problems aren’t resolved, perform a great act of grandstanding and refuse to pay lawmakers until ordered to do so by the courts.

One of the largest employers in the central part of the state threatening to leave without millions in tax breaks? Simply decline to address the matter, instead chastising the company for taking eyes away from the pension issue.

Finding a solution to the state’s kudzu-like pension problem is certainly of critical concern. But in these multi-tasking days, it’s far from the only thing that has to be addressed. Pushing everything else off until it is resolved is setting a personal agenda at the expense of others’ needs and priorities.

The problem is that makes every taxpayer an accomplice. Unwilling and unintended, perhaps, but an accomplice nonetheless.

What the state needs most right now is the same thing pathetically lacking in Washington, D.C.: Leadership.

Not force, not tyranny, not making the lives of others miserable in the process.

We’re not seeing that from Springfield, or Chicago, or wherever the control panel for Illinois is these days.

We’re seeing the political equivalent of taking one’s ball and going home.

Leadership is about more than having the upper hand. It’s about being willing to listen, to talk and to bend. It’s about trying to find a middle ground.

Sometimes, it’s even about losing when personal position and platform is weighed against what is best for the majority of the people.

The Alton Telegraph

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