I once sat next to Illinois House speaker Mike Madigan, at an Illinois Arts Council retreat in Galena. He was sitting on a park bench, clad in a madras shirt and Bermuda shorts. I had just finished a run. Madigan waved me over, and I joined him. It was regular guy stuff, and he asked me a lot of questions. And he laughed a lot.

Compare that to the media images of glaring, suited-up Speaker Mike Madigan, looking like the Godfather and running the state with absolute power. He has fallen—finally. But how to reconcile those two images, Shakespearian actor versus guy in Bermuda shorts with knobby knees?

Democrats, when they are in power, are as corrupt as are Republicans. It goes in cycles. But right now, we’re in a Republican cycle, and however its representatives present at home, Bermuda shorts, etc., they are almost gleefully willing to lend support to a coup. They would retain power as part of a coup rather than stand up and denounce right-wing extremism.

So, what can we do now?

Vote every one of those fiends out. Bad Dems will follow, but this is now.

There is no constitutional quota on the number of justices of the Supreme Court. Several times in U.S. history, there have been more judges than the current nine. Technically, there could be 20 judges. Democrats, were they willing to play hardball, could add at least two more judges and make the sitting judges look on with trepidation. Or: Impeach the liars, Amy Coney Island Barrett, Bret “Boofer” Canvenaugh.

Biden couldn’t play hardball when he was middle-aged. He is not tough enough, nor is he smart enough, to be the next Democratic president. He must not run. We must do everything in our power to support a hardball player. Jon Stewart would be an excellent choice as would Al Franken. If showbiz personalities bother you, consider that terrible actor Ronald Reagan and the hijinks he got us into. Co-chair of the January 6 committee, Benny Thompson, is fatherly and smart and brave. Tammy Duckworth is brave and smart, and a soldier. No far-left person, at this time, can win. Swallow your bitterness and get real. Or: Live in a totalitarian country. Promote women only candidates, but don’t kid yourself that women are the answer. Biden must go—voluntarily or pushed by a broom. Or show him on TV firing an AK-47.

Stop using bad phrasing. Defund the police is stupid. Refund, retrain the police. Caucasian: There is no such animal—unless you come from the Caucasus Mountains. Etc.

Be brave. Stop sharing food photos and step out your door and join the kids. The last few days have stirred a hornet’s nest of women speaking out—rightfully so. But the day before the Roe fracas, the Supreme Court enabled gunowners to conceal carry. We are not safe when citizens carry guns to church, the grocery store, to a neighbor dispute. The horrifying Uvalde incident got the masses to express outrage. But not so much the killing of those Black folks in New York the week before. The shooting death of children is no more tragic than the shooting death of a grandmother.

Read. Read the “1619 Report.” You will be shocked by its reality as opposed to the treacle of conservatives who denounce it having not read it, unwilling to consider the actual facts of the founding of this country. Read Toni Morrison and Ta-Nehisi Coates and Cormac McCarthy and Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin and Kurt Vonnegut and Isabel Wilkerson and Harriet Jacobs.

Here in Alton, nostalgia and tourism are all the rage. Which leaves no room for the truth of Woolworth’s and Kresge’s and the Grand Theatre, all of which discriminated against Blacks, and the KKK using Western Military Academy as its clubhouse, and a 1950 cross burning on Rock Springs golf course which drove a Black family out of town. Even most of the local claims about the Underground Railroad are historically inaccurate.

It is the last gasp of Whitey, and it’s a good thing. That gasp is fueling all the above. A writer colleague of mine in California, a liberal who skillfully took on his local establishment, suddenly realized he was white, and he began writing that he was a minority, and he turned dark, and he is lost.

We are all about to be lost, if we sit on our hands and cluck our tongues and click on the “I care” and the “tear” emojis. These are not actions. Pol Pot was a man of action. Donald Trump would endorse him if he were running for the Senate.

Take no action. Show no empathy. Stay silent. Watch the fire.



About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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