Last week I offered suggested resolutions for conservative activists in Illinois so today I have a question for our Illinois Republican state legislators: What will you be doing differently in the new year?
As a citizen, a member of the Republican Party, an elected Precinct Committeeman, and a taxpayer, I have a few suggestions.
1. Realize you’re not a policy engineer, you’re a salesman. You didn’t get elected because of your brain power. Leave the finer points of public policy to the think tanks and policy institutes. You got elected to sell—to win support for the right solutions.
Some elected officials like to think they’re supposed to represent everyone in their voting district, which if you give this any thought at all you realize it’s silly. Since there are countless viewpoints, it isn’t possible to represent each one—even though many “moderates” are quite proud of their attempts to try.
If a person is elected on the Republican ballot line, their duty is to represent the principles of the party. It makes no sense for rank and file Republicans to tolerate misuse of their ballot line.
Some people have the mistaken impression that if a candidate calls himself a Republican he qualifies for the support of the party. That’s nonsense and we can all see how that’s working: GOP principles aren’t advanced—only the sad little political careers of small people.
Nowhere is it written that Republicans are supposed to work to elect idiots. The Party exists to advance the policy agenda reflected in the party’s platform. It doesn’t exist to give politicians a fulfilling career.
If an elected Republican Illinois legislator, for example, is not doing everything in his or her power to utilize their office to move public opinion in support of specific policy solutions then they are useless and should be voted out as soon as possible. You’re either a reformer or you’re not.
You might have heard that one of your former colleagues got himself elected president selling “change you can believe in.” If he can do that, you can sell a truly balanced budget.
2. Start with the basics. Set out a coherent approach to public policy. The web is a good place for that. How would you balance the budget? How would you fix Medicaid? How would you free children stuck in the public schools? How would you help many thousands of public employees realize that they’re not going to get that immorally high pension they’ve been promised. (Please understand that it is impossible to catch up on the unfunded state pension liabilities.)
3. An important part of this coherent approach to public policy is outlining what you believe to be the role of government. An integral part of this approach is having some understanding of economics—if you haven’t read this book, now is the time. Government is about drawing lines. Taxpayers can’t afford everything. Let me repeat—in case you read that too fast—taxpayers can’t afford everything.
For example, if government doesn’t have money to maintain state roads, it certainly doesn’t have money to be paying for health care for people who have the means to pay for their own healthcare.
4. As someone who makes use of the Republican ballot line, you have a responsibility to participate actively in party building. If you don’t know what party building is, then it’s time for you to learn. If you don’t want to learn, please understand that in the age of the World Wide Web, the story of your true legacy will be told. They might love you down at the barber shop or at the Rotary but the rising generation will eventually learn the story of how you were just one more big fat failure while in office.
As a New Year’s resolution you might want to commit to speaking the name “Rod Blagojevich” a lot less. He has never been your problem. He will most likely be off the political stage soon, so you’re eventually going to have to get back to work. The era of Blago-b.s. excuses is about to come to an end. Are you ready to deal with real life afterwards? Can you cope with the notion that nobody cares about Rod?
Many of you no doubt spend a lot of time in front of mirrors. While that statesmen or stateswomen is staring back at you in the morning, rank and file Republicans need you to start seeing a part of the solution instead of what you’ve most likely have been—a part of the problem.
What will you be doing differently in the new year? are doing right now isn’t working too well. Illinois voters don’t know what the point is for you holding that office. Commit to making 2009 the year more of them find out.
The rising generation will appreciate it—and the story of your tenure in office will be a positive one instead of what it most likely is now.
Why such harsh language? Because the work of a lot of good Republicans goes into electing candidates every two years and it’s high time that labor is rewarded.
©2009 John Francis Biver