Remembering John Porter: A Republican of Another Time

Were former Rep. John Porter, R.-Ill. to return to Congress today – 22 years after his retirement – ​​he would be almost a realistic Trent, the character from another era who lands on present-day Earth in Harlan Ellison’s sci-fi drama “Demon With a Glass Hand “.

Porter, who died last week at 87, was a Republican from another era. With a lifetime rating of 61% from the American Conservative Union, the U.S. Representative from suburban Chicago for 20 years was different from the 56 mostly conservative Republicans who arrived with Ronald Reagan in 1980 and whose Porter election preceded 11 month.

And he was certainly light years ahead of the aggressive conservative Republicans who came to the House most recently and nearly dominate its Republican Conference today.

Porter supported raising the minimum wage, fought hard against cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Legal Services Corporation, opposed bans on abortion-inducing drugs, and a amendment allowing the possession of firearms in the homes of residents of Washington, DC.

But did votes like this indicate that the Prairie state legislator was a RINO (Republican in the name of Oonly)? This would be a tough case to make, as Porter also supported the removal of the “Death (Estate) Tax”, consistently supported and worked for Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) as an alternative form of health care. health, and supported Reagan’s tax and budget bills of 1981.

Jim Martin, longtime leader of the 60 Plus Association, recalled how upset Porter was “when he received a negative rating from the former National Council of Senior Citizens, the far-left group made up of former officials union members living off government handouts. They did the dirty work for AARP, which kept AARP above the fray. Porter lamented to Roger Zion (60-year-old lobbyist and former congressman Indiana Republican) that he had a good union record, but Roger told him it was never good enough for the far left – namely the NCSC.”

“When John came to Congress, about two years after me, he helped me start the Congressional Human Rights Caucus,” former Rep. Don Ritter, R-PA, told Newsmax, recalling how Porter worked. tirelessly to identify, monitor and end human rights violations around the world, “And we had a particular interest in Afghanistan and China” – two nations whose human rights violations attract worldwide attention today.

Ritter also pointed out that Porter “was the go-to person on the issue of health care. He understood this complex but very important issue long before most people realized we had to do something about it.” Along with taking the initiative to give the individual greater control over individual health care through MSAs, Porter, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, told us, “and Connie Mack ( then-Republican senator from Florida) were the two main leaders in getting the Republican-controlled Congress to double the budget for the National Institutes of Health while cutting spending to balance the federal budget for four consecutive years — the only time that has ever happened. is produced in our life.

Porter’s passion for the political center and for compromise almost surely stemmed from experience as a young man. After graduating from Northwestern University, serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, and then earning his law degree with honors at the University of Michigan, young Porter was selected for the graduate program. in Law from the United States Department of Justice. Looking back to then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy and his all-Democratic staff, longtime Republican Porter has become a more bipartisan figure.

Elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1972, he became a close ally of fellow moderate Republican and Governor Jim Thompson. Among the Democrats he knew and worked with was Mike Madigan of Chicago, a product of Mayor Richard Daley’s Democratic organization who would become the longest-serving Speaker of the State House (1982-2021) of United States history.

In 1978, Porter faced off against Democratic Rep. Abner Mikva, who had been redistributed in 1971 from Chicago’s South Side to suburban 10e District. Defeated in 1972, Mikva came back to win two close contests in 1974 and 1976. As a Republican opponent, Edwards criticized the incumbent for supporting President Jimmy Carter at a time when inflation and unemployment were on the rise . Mikva again scored a victory, beating Edwards by around 650 votes.

In a letter to this reporter the following year, Edwards said he would be back for a rematch and that “Mikva’s days are numbered”. He was right, but not quite as he had expected. In 1979, perhaps feeling defeated, Mikva accepted an appointment from Carter to the United States Court of Appeals. Edwards won the resulting special election easily and reportedly never struggled at the polls.

When he retired in 2000, his longtime top aide and fellow moderate Mark Kirk succeeded him in the House and then went to the Senate.

Like Gingrich and Ritter, former Rep. Jim Courter, R-NJ, came to Congress with Porter and was definitely on his right philosophically. Courter seemed to speak for everyone who knew Porter when he told us, “John was a dedicated member who was admired by everyone on both sides of the aisle.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, go here now.

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