Jesse Jackson Jr.’s obsession with the proposed Peotone airport may have been an early, unheeded warning sign of bipolar disorder, which often includes a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans.Jackson’s proclamations about the airport were, at best, wildly unrealistic—even in his recent letter of resignation from Congress, he claimed that an airport at Peotone would employ 300,000 people.
Jackson could never accept the fact that market forces do not support the airport and that Chicago political and business leaders would never allow it. In demanding that he get his way, Jackson alienated important Democrats including Mayor Daley, Governor Blagojevich and Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, thus undermining his effectiveness as an elected official.
It’s a shame that Jackson’s career, which started out like a modern day Camelot, turned into a Greek tragedy, complete with hubris--grandiosity-- leading to the fall. And it’s a shame that thousands of residents in the 36 square mile site of the proposed airport have had to live under continuous threat for so many years. And it a shame that tens of thousands of economically distressed residents in the south suburbs were fed false hope about jobs for so long. Perhaps the next congressman will be reality based.
Hitting bottom psychologically is often the precursor to emotional and spiritual growth. At 47, Jackson still has immense potential to help make the world a better place. I wish him well.
George Ochsenfeld, President of STAND (Shut This Airport Nightmare Down)