Interestingly Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. finally came to Peotone, the place he has been talking about for 18 years, the place that has been the focal point of his congressional tenure, the place he wants to decimate and urbanize.
Now that Jackson’s new congressional district has been redrawn, it includes the land where the proposed Peotone Airport has been tentatively sited. The remap is a victory in itself for Jackson, who has long tried to mislead people into believing it has always been in his district. See Jesse Jackson needs a geography lesson.
It is almost laughable how Jackson has tried to schmooze the farmers whose land he wants for his pet project, into thinking he gives a damn about them, the land they work, or their rural way of life. He doesn’t. They are only a mean to his end. He wants only to use them to get what he wants—political power over jobs, contracts and ultimately campaign cash.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. had to talk hard and fast to get this audience of eastern Will County farmers to listen to what he had to say; he carefully crafted his words to try to reach them. Yet what he actually said might have the same effect as that which these farmers spread on their fields to help the crops grow. Jackson probably decided prior to the visit, that the best way to reach them was to emulate his conservative colleagues which he loathes, since most of these farmers traditionally cast a Republican ballot. I’m sure he did his homework and learned that many of them sympathize with the tea party movement. Jackson is too arrogant to consider that he has little chance of winning them over.
As a longtime advocate for these folks keeping their land out of Jackson’s hands, I resent Jackson’s inference that he understands their lifestyle. His talk of praying for sun and rain, joking about driving a combine, and drawing first a comparison with his African-American ancestors who picked cotton in the south and later with the people of Iowa he met along the campaign trail, was insincere and likely ineffectual. Try as he might to get into their good graces, I doubt it worked.
It is offensive that Jackson would try to take advantage of religion and culture to worm his way into the hearts and minds of the local farmers in eastern Will County. These are good people, with too much dignity to tell the congressman what they really feel. I can almost guarantee they will never vote for him, no matter how many stories he tells them about how he understands their plight.
The one thing he did offer that might give them pause was his promise of a “fair market exchange” for those who are willing to sell their land to the state. Closer evaluation will show this to be a ruse as well.
First, Jackson promised that if they became willing sellers, they would receive fair market value. Anyone could make that promise since that is the law. But he also said they could farm the land for free until the land is needed. On one hand, Jackson claims construction could begin by June. Even Jackson knows that isn’t doable. So he is dangling the carrot on the end of the free farming stick. It was an interesting ploy, given that farmers are businessmen like everyone else in this faltering economy. Jackson also knows that for some the fight might be out of them after all these years since the Peotone Airport was first proposed in the 1960’s but heavily marketed since the 1980’s.
“An airport will be built on that land,” Jackson said, speaking of the needed state-owned land which represents less than half of what is needed. No doubt, that is as he sees it, yet his view seems to be shared by less people every year as support for the airport dwindles.
His flim-flam guarantee for the opportunity to farm the land for free is simply not his to make. While Jackson acts as though he and his self-appointed airport authority, ALNAC (Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission) owns this project. It does not. It hasn’t even been approved by the FAA at this point. No decision will be made for years since the perpetual studies continue. Jackson is a U.S. Congressman unaffiliated with the State of Illinois, yet he continues to behave as though he has the right to negotiation with landowners for the State of Illinois. He has no such right.
The bottom line is that if Jackson thinks he is going to convince farmers in eastern Will County that they should voluntarily sell their land for an airport they don’t want for the sake of jobs in the south suburbs, Jackson is delusional.
I will at least give Jackson credit for finally coming face-to-face with Peotone-area farmers. Because his adversaries appear polite, easy-going, reserved, and all the other attributes the good people of the Peotone area possess, Jackson probably thinks winning them over will be a cake walk. That shows how little he really knows about the farm community.
Jackson’s visit can be viewed thanks to willcountynews.com.