A loathe of bread

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Bobs Column - The B SideQuinn’s camp rips on Rauner’s riches

When I was a boy, my dad cut our lawn with a push mower.
Governor Quinn also uses a push mower to cut his grass. Don’t believe me? It’s the focus of his latest TV campaign commercial. Quinn, donning a blue polo shirt and khakis, cuts the grass while talking about cutting state spending, closing state properties and suspending legislators’ pay along with his own.
The governor, you see, is a regular guy. He’s just like you and me. At least that’s what he wants you to believe. Or, it’s what the people managing his campaign are hoping you believe.
It’s important for Quinn to portray this image because he wants to position himself as the polar opposite of Bruce Rauner, his opponent in the November election.
Rauner is a millionaire many times over. And a rich guy like Rauner couldn’t possibly understand the problems facing the state or have any chance at solving them. At least that’s what Quinn wants you to believe.
Rauner is out of touch with the problems encountered by the average Joe, who works a second job to make ends meet and maybe scrapes together a few extra bucks to buy a Bears ticket.
I doubt Rauner cuts his lawn—not even with a riding mower. Instead, he sips wine with other members of an exclusive club who pay big bucks to “collaborate with the winemaking team on every detail of your wine, from blending to barrel toast,” according to a story in the Washington Post.
Rauner’s membership in the club cost $100,000. When the wine club story broke, it was accompanied by a 2010 photo of Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel outside the Paradise Valley Grill in Montana. Emanuel is holding a bottle of Napa Valley Reserve, a wine produced by the invitation-only club.
Rauner’s relationship with Emanuel is the larger story here, one that voters should carefully consider before making a decision between the two gubernatorial candidates. But the media preferred to focus on Emanuel with a bottle of pricy wine in his hand.
Quinn, meanwhile, recently told reporters that he had eaten graham crackers for dinner in a quest to live on the minimum wage for one week. He also attempted to spend just $79 in one week — the cost he calculated is leftover each week for minimum wage workers after taking out housing, transportation and taxes. 
Quinn can eat crackers, mac and cheese or ramen noodles all he wants but it won’t do anything to change the plight of people forced to live on the minimum wage. It’s a stunt designed to portray Quinn as the everyman—an advocate for the poor and struggling.

In fact, the people struggling to earn enough money to pay the bills and feed their children should be offended by Quinn’s stunt. Long after he’s done experimenting with the lifestyle of lower middle class folks, they’ll continue to struggle.
The fact that Rauner has big bucks or drinks fine wine doesn’t mean he would be a poor governor. Maybe a guy with an Ivy League education who is chairman of a venture capital firm and has a deep understanding of finance and economics would be a fine governor. I don’t know.
I do know that Paul Vallas, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, sounded shallow last week when he said Rauner is too rich to be governor. “He definitely cannot relate to every day voters and he cannot relate to working families,” Vallas said at a press conference.
It’s a statement that smacks of desperation. Worse, it indicates that Quinn and Vallas think you’re stupid. They’ve got eight weeks to bombard you with television ads criticizing Rauner as a rich outsider and positioning Quinn as champion of the everyman.
And they wouldn’t go with this simplistic approach if they didn’t believe it would work.
There was a time when a well-to-do person was admired and emulated. People would wonder, “How’d he become a success, a business owner, an entrepreneur? How can I do the same?”
That’s no longer the way it works. Today, rich and successful men and women often are despised. They’re categorized as “one-percenters” who do not pay their fair share. Never mind that most millionaires pay more taxes than the rest of us.
Quinn’s camp is counting on this envy and loathing of the rich to carry the day.
Naturally, the campaign should be about more than that. Perhaps real issues should play a role. Don’t hold your breath.
The candidates and their handlers think you are fools, ready to lap up a simplistic message. Don’t let them get away with it.