The Democratic frontrunner for the Illinois governorship, J.B. Pritzker, is a pretty good guy.
When speaking of the very richest people, a common mistake is the tendency to fall into all-or-none thinking, and create a false dilemma. Not all billionaires are like the Koch brothers.
In this world, we are all born where we are born. No one should be judged by the sum of their bank accounts. Whatever one’s economic status, we are all defined by the sum of our choices and the quality of the work we do.
J.B. Pritzker has done a tremendous amount of good work. In this regard, he has carried on the legacy of his family.
The Pritzker family did not make their fortunes running houses of ill repute as the Trump family did(said brothel was turned into a tourist attraction last fall, to help us remember that). They came from poverty and worked their way up through hard work and cleverness.
The patriarch of the family, Abram Nicholas, was the son of a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant who had come to Chicago in 1881 from Kiev. Abram Nicholas put himself through Harvard, earning a law degree in 1920 before going to work in his father’s law firm, later known as Pritzker & Pritzker.
He and his brother, Jack Nicholas Pritzker, left the firm in 1936 to try their hand at commerce. The family fortune quickly grew, due to their ability to invest wisely in real estate and small companies, particularly around the Chicago area.
Abram Nicholas also became a philanthropist on a large scale, helping establish the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago and giving several million dollars annually to other causes. This started a long and proud tradition of Pritzker support for humanitarian causes.
The philanthropic causes the Ashkenazi Jewish family supports are almost as diverse as the real estate and business investments that made them rich in the first place.
The Pritzker Family Philanthropic Fund is a major supporter of Jewish charities in the Chicago area, including Jewish education programs.
Examples include $3 million given to the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago in 2002 and $1 million for the Treblinka Holocaust Memorial in 2007.
Memorials for the victims of the Holocaust are another of the Pritzker family priorities. J.B. Pritzker led the campaign to build the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, which opened in 2009.
The impressive statistics just keep rolling in; they read like a grocery list.
As of 2014, the Pritzker family has donated the staggering sum of $16.9 million to the Chicago public school system.
J.B. Pritzker personally spearheaded the effort to build a coalition capable of raising the funds to expand prekindergarten programs for low-income children in Chicago without incurring costs for taxpayers. The plan worked.
Early education is one of J.B. Pritzker’s pet causes; he also partnered on a project to invest $20 million in an Early Childhood Innovation Accelerator to develop and fund programs for disadvantaged children.
Yet another example of J.B. Pritzker standing up for regular folks can be found in his early support of the LGBT community, a time-honored tradition in Chicago. The Society for Human Rights was founded by Henry Gerber in 1924 in Chicago. It is the first documented gay rights organization.
Just the same, even the concept of gay rights was repugnant to many bigots in the early days. For many years, the cause received little support from the halls of government, and the psychiatric community refused even to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for another 63 years, until 1987.
But J.B. stood up for the gay and transgender communities. And he did so long before it was considered “safe”.
His cousin Jennifer Pritzker was born as James N. Pritzker, and underwent an official legal name change in 2013. She identifies herself as a woman and is known as the world’s first and only openly transgender billionaire. She recently made a $2 million grant to a university in Canada to establish a chair for transgender studies, a position unique in all the world.
Nancy Pelosi recently made some kind remarks on his behalf at the Equality Illinois 25th Anniversary Gala, which are given below. They illustrate clearly that respect for persons of LGBT orientation was strongly held by J.B.’s mother.
“Earlier, it was referenced that he drew his value of respect for the LGBT community from his mother. I said to J.B. there was something I would tell him tonight that he might not know about his mother that is very special to me. When I was chair of the Northern California Democratic Party, she was the treasurer – our offices were together; our desks were in the same room. And she was very instrumental in writing the 1982 – well, we wrote it in ‘81 – a platform that was passed in January of ’82: the California Democratic platform which supported LGBT families – 1982. Sue Pritzker. So, he comes by his support, his values, in a family way. Thank you, J.B.
It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that “Thank You” is indeed an appropriate thing to say, to someone who has spent an entire lifetime sticking up for people who don’t have billions of dollars to stick up for themselves.
J.B. Pritzker has been carrying on the philanthropic tradition started by his grandfather, all the days of his life. Every evening, while he sleeps, the organizations he created do more good for actual people than the life’s work of Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss- his opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary of Illinois– combined.
Lol. These men put together do not have a tenth of the capacity or skill that J.B. Pritzker does..
These same two guys are adding fuel to the fire and attacking Pritzker constantly, even though they know they are doing no good to anyone except but the hideous Bruce Rauner when they commit to that course of action.
It is true that the man shot his mouth off like a pig ten years ago when Rod Blagojevich tried selling him Barack Obama’s Senate seat. He made some really stupid, ugly comments about black people and has justly come under serious fire for it- as anyone should.
Hopefully, by now, it is not news to anyone that the country is in a really bad situation. We cannot afford the luxury of sidelining the talents of our most able countrymen, just to punish them for saying something lousy.
J.B. Pritzker is funding his own campaign. He has outspent the monstrosity Rauner by $16 million and rising. He has travelled all over the place on a literal apology tour, taking accountability for the awful words of his mouth, and showing people his plans to make up for it with concrete plans and actions. Why is it up to anyone else, to relentlessly savage him for that?
The Black Women of Illinois Forum accepted his request to allow him to go there and speak. If it’s good enough for them, it ought to be good enough for everybody.
Pritzker’s opponent next fall, the incumbent governor Bruce Rauner, is a truly despicable human being. We don’t need a hot mic to know how he feels about black people. We’ve got his voting record. That guy could spend the rest of his Earthly days on an apology tour, and it still would not be good enough.
But J.B. is different. He’s a good man who said some bad things, and who has done a lot of good things. It is the rarest of all possible combinations in today’s society, to find someone who is on the top, having lifelong compassion for people nobody else used to care about.
You don’t find that every day. Even if there wasn’t a Bruce Rauner, the only sensible reaction to having a guy born for the job of governing one of our largest and most populous states step into its shoes is to thank the heavens and prepare to get behind him.
Beyond all other reasons, when filling a job, we should consider how well its function can be performed by its occupant. There is no one on the political radar of Illinois who has a sliver of the talent or ability possessed by J.B. Pritzker. The greatest amount of good can be done for the greatest amount of people, by giving power to the person best able to use it.
In the case of the state of Illinois, that person is J.B. Pritzker. And we’re going to stand behind him, with everything we’ve got.