Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Barack Obama are expected to meet Tuesday as Obama returns exactly nine years later to the steps of the Old State Capitol where he announced his run for the presidency. The two executives are from much different parties, much different perspectives and much different backgrounds.
But lately they have something in common besides Illinois: Both acted on their own to skirt constitutional intentions because they faced dysfunctional lawmakers.
Obama’s coming to town to plead for a return to the art of politics, compromise and common good. We wonder how receptive lawmakers will be to that message coming from a chief executive who when frustrated over Congress’s inaction on an issue, gun control being the most recent example, imposes executive orders to move toward his goals?
Rauner, too, used executive powers this past week to establish a privately run and funded economic development corporation that replaces the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He moved on his own because he was unwilling to bend to or unable to mold Democratic lawmakers’ provision that could potentially kill the program after three years — as Illinois elects or re-elects a governor.
It’s easy to get behind the idea of a private partnership that can do what the state DCEO has failed to do: be nimble and smart, cut through the red tape and ensure responses when opportunity presents itself. Drawing on private-sector business expertise, instead of relying on bureaucrats who make a living regardless of their performance, is the right way to talk to others who must work smart to grow a business.
Yet just as business people intuitively understand other business people, Rauner and Obama both come from limited political experience and don’t seem to be able to relate effectively to their comrades in the rotundas who have been playing these games for decades. Their on-the-job training has yielded significant stand-offs on critical issues.
Sometimes how you make progress is more important than the goal.