Protests by “Bernie or Bust” delegates to the Democratic National Convention last week put a lot of attention on dissension within the party, but a top Illinois Democrat has a different take.
Given that he’s the state party chairman, and that he’s been in office since 1971, you can classify him as part of the “establishment," so this comment may come across as surprising: "I think that Bernie Sanders and the Sanders campaign have a done a great service for the Democratic Party in America.”
And in Illinois.
Madigan says Sanders brought issues like income inequality, college affordability, and regulation of Wall St., to the forefront.
He’s making the political calculation that Sanders has enthused new voters, who will come out in November and help to defeat Republicans supported by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Madigan says the Sanders movement will prompt the Democratic Party of Illinois to change.
“We should, we must, and we will," he said Madigan said last week in an interview with Illinois Public Radio and WBBM. "That’s part of the success of the Democratic Party of America, Illinois. We always strive to recognize emerging problems, emerging concerns, we try to adapt to those emerging ideas."
Madigan says an example is Illinois Democrats’ continued advocacy for the MAP program, which helps low-income students pay for college. Its funding has been subject to political whims. While a temporary budget deal back-funded the program for the last school year, no state money has been allocated for the school year that's about to begin.