Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

What the Springfield Rally Really Means

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chicago Teachers board busses for Springfield protest

    So you thought 2010’s biggest populist movement was a tax revolt?

    You may be wrong. The demonstration taking place in Springfield today is going to make a Tea Party rally look like … a tea party. More than 15,000 protestors are clogging the state capitol to demand that legislature raise their taxes.

    The Responsible Budget Coalition, the organizers of the “Save Our State” rally, believes that Gov. Pat Quinn’s one-point income tax is the only alternative to unacceptable cuts in education.

    We’re talking bus caravans, Jumbotrons, speakers hollering through amplifiers, a Twitter campaign and a live video stream of the proceedings. The Springfield police are worried about injuries as teachers playing hooky from school crowd into their legislators’ offices.

    Another sign that this is the anti-Tea Party: many of the liberal advocacy groups making the trip to Springfield today were allies of President Obama when he was in the state senate.

    John Bouman, executive director of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, worked with Obama to write a welfare reform bill in 1997. Bouman told the State Journal-Register the state needs to come up with “significant new revenue” to fund schools and social service agencies.

    “It’s also to try to impress on legislators it’s not acceptable to do a half measure and go home and wait until after the (Nov. 2) election, that this thing has to be fixed. It has to be solved now,” Bouman said. “The longer we wait, the worse it gets, the higher the casualty count in terms of people and organizations and institutions and needs unmet.”

    The Illinois Education Association, which is busing thousands of teachers to the rally, endorsed Obama when he ran for president, declaring “no candidate running today has been a better friend to public education employees and the students they serve than Barack Obama.”

    In fact, Obama first visited Springfield as a community organizer working for education reform. In 1988, he led a bus trip to lobby the legislature for the creation of local school councils.

    The Tea Party may be the angriest movement in America today. But it’s not the biggest, or the best organized.

    It turns out a lot of people agree with the man in the White House -- higher taxes are not the greatest burden that government can inflict on us.