July 4, 2018

Today is my favorite day of the year.
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Patriot:

a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

 
Today is my favorite day of the year.
Yes, I love summer. Yes, we all enjoy a day off.
Neither of those is the reason, however.
 
It was 242 years ago when a group of patriots declared their independence from Britain. This was more than a revolution, it was a cause.
A belief that all men are created equal; endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.
 
They set forth not only to dissolve the bonds to Britain, but to create a new form of self-government, in which the government derives its just power from the governed.
This grand experiment had never before been attempted. Change in leadership had always been from violence, or change never happened.
Their idea, our government, was based on a peaceful transition of power. Open and fair elections for all citizens to participate and a free press to speak truth to power. Those powers purposefully separated between executive, legislative, and judicial branches; each equal; none above another, and assigned oversight for each other. The real power lies within the People of this great nation.
 
Today, those truths are not as self-evident, and sometimes truths aren’t evident at all.
The power of the People has been diminished by the power of the dollar.
The press, while still free, is not as independent, thanks to media ownership rules, and battling a campaign labeling different or opposing views as fake.
The oversight among branches of government has been largely sidelined by partisan loyalty.
 
Despite the challenges, we still are the oldest existing nation with a constitutional government in which the people elect their own government and representatives.
Our Republic is facing crisis, but the foundation is solid. We, The People, must continue to use our voice, we must vote for Country over party, we must retain our Rights, and ensure that the Founders concept for a government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from this earth.
 
As a patriot, my love of this country is not about party, it’s not about a specific person, or group, or political belief. It is about the ideas set forth on July 4th, 1776 and cemented with our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Too often, politically, we see opposition for one as support of another. We should look beyond petty loyalties, and look to underlying belief. What is best for the country may not always align with your political view, but patriotism isn’t about politics, it’s about country.
So today, as we wave the flag and watch the fireworks, take a moment to reflect upon your own patriotism. Can you put your love of country ahead of a person or a party? Can you accept that we all have been granted the same Rights, enjoy the same freedoms, and believe in the ideals so beautifully expressed 242 years ago?   Are you willing to mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor, as the Founders did?
We must put aside our differences, move beyond our divisiveness, our contempt, and our political loyalties. Please take a moment to read the Declaration of Independence today as a reminder not just of our shared past, but of our common future, as the United States of America.
 
Have a safe and happy Independence Day.
Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

Responsibility in Politics

What we should be seeking in our elected officials isn’t an ideology, it is responsibility.
We have the power of choice, and the freedom of expression. It’s time we used them wisely.

Is the system broken, or are we?
Politically, we may not be who we think we are, so when we vote, are we making an informed choice, or a reactive one?  We are individuals, yet typically identify with a collective, even when it’s detrimental to some of our beliefs.
For those who identify as liberal or conservative, perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror and decide if that represents the entirety of your views.  While each of us has some component of each philosophy, some lean much more one way than the other. As a personal belief, there is nothing wrong with that. As a political ideology, it gets more complicated.  When it comes to governing, it is ineffective.
What we should be seeking in our elected officials isn’t an ideology, it is responsibility.
E. Pluribus Unum.  Out of many, one.
Our motto says it all. We are a vast and diverse Nation with many beliefs, traditions, ideas, philosophies, and desires.  Each of us is guaranteed the right to have our own opinions, and the right to express them. We can express them in many ways; where we live, how we shop, the friends we keep, the jobs we hold, and who we vote for.
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It is that very vote that makes it so critical for elected officials to separate their personal ideologies from the ability to govern.
Leadership is the culmination of skills required to create an inspiring vision of the future, motivate people to engage with that vision, and deliver on it.
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
True leaders will build consensus and act on the best interests of the entire Country. When we allow our partisan desires to disrupt the process, stall legislation, and enrage those with different beliefs, we do a great disservice not just to each other, but to our democracy.  Any time one party pushes too far to one side, the pendulum inevitably swings far to the other side.  Opposition is not leadership, nor is inaction.
It isn’t difficult to see the future continuing to be a divisive one, with swings from one side to the other, and back again. It is just as easy, however, to envision an environment of collaboration, where Congress, despite their individual beliefs, collectively works to legislate for all.
For those in the electorate on the extremes, your anger and disappointment will never fully be assuaged.  While there will always be small victories, extreme views never play well in national politics.
For the rest of us, who tend to be a little of each philosophy, while we may never be fully happy, we will never be completely disappointed.
Our Republic was created to ensure that each of us has a voice, and that all our voices are equal.
Rather than work to divide, and to push an agenda doomed to eventual failure (and dismantling by the next Congress/Administration), we should work to unite, and elect responsible representatives. It is only then that we can move past this period of extreme division and disappointment, and begin to fulfil the Founders vision of democracy, where all men are created equal, and government exists to preserve the Rights of the People.
It is easy to place blame, judge others, and express frustration with the ‘system’.  Taking a critical look inward is difficult, as is accepting responsibility.  Our National identity, however, should come before any party one.
Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together.  We have the power of choice, and the freedom of expression.  It’s time we used them wisely.

My statement to the Cook County Finance Committee

My testimony to the Cook County Board about the sweetened beverage tax.

President Preckwinkle, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, my fellow Cook County Residents. Good morning.
My name is Scott Saxe.  I reside in Elk Grove Village.  I’ve lived in Illinois for the past 25 years, all of them in Cook County. This is my home.
While there are many issues plaguing the State and County, I appreciate President Preckwinkle’s efforts at transparency in County Government.
None of us are fans of increased taxes, but many of us recognize the realities of the fiscal situation we are in. Unless we develop a comprehensive strategy to address the issues of the past, we are destined to revisit them in the future.
With the vast majority of County revenues going towards public health and public safety, you’re fulfilling the basic responsibilities of County Government: taking care of the people you serve. While it would be nice to see cuts, where possible, they cannot be at the detriment of those citizens that need services the most.
If the beverage tax is repealed, there is a $200 million gap in the budget.  I’m incredibly concerned about the impact that would have on the entire community.  As a citizen and taxpayer, I’d much rather have a tax where I have a choice (I don’t have to consume sweetened beverages) vs. a tax on my income, property, or other inflexible items.  Cutting essential health services takes choice away from too many.
As commissioners, it is incumbent on each of you to be responsible for the entire constituency you represent, not just those who vote, or donate, or speak at these meetings…everyone.  This is especially true of the children in our communities.
The science behind reducing consumption of sweetened beverages is solid, and would reduce obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a plethora of other health issues.
There is no doubt that this is sound health policy.  It is sound fiscal policy. It is sound public policy.
Anything else is just politics.
Let’s stop putting special interests, from both sides, before the public good.
While it may not be the popular thing to do, ensuring that public health and public safety remain fully funded priorities is the right thing to do.
Any budget cuts to public safety and public health would be far more detrimental to the residents of Cook County than a tax on drinks that we choose to consume.  Forcing another type of revenue increase on the taxpayers is much more burdensome on us all than a  tax on our optional drinks. Eliminating services that are critical to so many is unfathomable and irresponsible.
It all comes down to choice.
We have a choice on what we consume.
You, too, have a choice  on what you tax or a choice on what you cut.
You’re about to make your choice.
The Citizens of Cook County are watching.
We have choices, too.
Thank you.