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Full Coverage: Freedom Fighter Walesa Endorses Andrzejewski

Amanda Friedeman 30 January 2010 One Comment

Just days before the state’s primary elections, Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Andrzejewski received the endorsement of former Polish President, Solidarity co-founder, and Nobel Laureate Lech Walesa. Speaking through a translator at a gathering of approximately two hundred people at Chicago’s Union League Club on Friday, Walesa compared Poland’s struggle against Soviet Communism to the current economic and political climate in the United States, calling on Illinois to pave the way for values-based leadership in the federal government.

Stressing values, faith, and transparency in government—all themes of Andrzejewski’s campaign—Walesa called on the United States act on its responsibility as the lone remaining superpower and to once again lead the world morally and politically, as well as economically. The world needs America, he said, to lead the way in organizing the world differently, according to global, cultural values, and then start to build structures out of these shared values. Among the most pressing global issues to be addressed, Walesa said, are “international conflicts, anti-Semitism, and terrorism.”

Andrzejewski traveled to Poland in late November on a fact-finding trip during which he investigated opportunities to increase trade and cultural exchange and to promote job growth between Illinois and the Central European republic. Appealing to the 1.1 million Illinoisans of Polish descent, Andrzejewski and the event’s master of ceremonies, former State Senator Patrick O’Malley, frequently invoked a motto of the Polish people, “For our freedom and yours.”

Repeatedly referring to Andrzejewski as a “freedom fighter,” O’Malley cast the candidate as a successor to Walesa and Ronald Reagan, saying he would rid Springfield of corruption and use “the principles America was founded on” to bring about “transparency in government and balanced budgets.” O’Malley again drew parallels between Andrzejewski and Walesa, emphasizing their mutual interest in the rights of ordinary citizens.

Walesa highlighted the role of faith in his political successes. He credits Karol Wojtyla’s 1978 election to the papacy as John Paul II and subsequent visit to his native Poland with turning the world’s attention to the country and inspiring Poles to act on their Catholic faith in defiance of Communist bans on religious expression. In turn, he said, this heartened Poles to act in the face of the overwhelming military might of the Soviet Union. Based strictly on numbers of tanks, guns, and soldiers, Walesa joked, “the Soviets should still be in power.” He then called on Americans to “bet on people of values,” using truth and right works to “build a better world.”

Walesa described himself as having the same beliefs as Andrzejewski, particularly in the importance of “spiritual values.” The twenty-first century, Walesa said, is being defined by globalization, particularly in Europe, resulting in a need to build on freedom and free markets. However, according to the former President, these must “be built on honesty.”

Avoiding direct references to former Governor Blagojevich or other individuals, Andrzejewski instead spoke in broad terms about corruption in Springfield and emphasized state’s need for “a new generation of leadership.” His remarks also referenced the honor code of the United States Military Academy, which states, “A cadet will not will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” Andrzejewski pledged to put this code into practice in Springfield. He further emphasized that government officials must respect and ask for help from the people of the state, initiate proactive policies, and bring about “a new era of teamwork” in the state capitol.

Andrzejewski, who has never held elective office, was a successful entrepreneur before founding For The Good Of Illinois, an organization dedicated to bringing transparency, efficiency, and frugality to Illinois government. Walesa also touched on the theme of fiscal responsibility, suggesting that money is better spent in the hands of citizens rather than controlled by wasteful governments. Cautioning against government involvement in areas such as hospitals and health care, he warned of the ease of “mak(ing) Communism from Capitalism. It’s like making fish soup from an aquarium.” On the other hand, making Capitalism from Communism, Walesa said, is “like making an aquarium from fish soup.”

Declaring that the three most important issues in the campaign are “jobs, jobs, and jobs,” Andrzejewski emphasized that honesty in government is essential in attracting new businesses to Illinois and creating jobs, saying that corruption impedes this job growth. He reiterated the value of the state’s large Polish American population in attracting Polish businesses to Illinois. However, as Walesa reminded the audience, “If you want Polish businesses to come here, you have to learn Polish.”

Amanda Freideman covers news events for the Chicago Daily Observer

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