Rumors swirl as Illinois Republican legislators burn up the phone lines talking to each other about how they’re even more irrelevant to Illinois politics than they were just a few days ago.
That might sound harsh but with a veto-proof Democrat majority in the state senate and the state house Republicans losing at least one seat, the road back to relevance just got even longer.
As this happens, rank and file Republicans are also burning up phone lines talking to each other about what needs to be done. We believe the gap between rank-and-file Republican voters and Republican legislators just got wider.
Why? Because there is a belief amongst rank-and-file Republicans think we can win with ideas, whereas Illinois Republican legislators don’t.
Of the remaining 73 Republicans who travel to Springfield next January, most believe that the answer to Republican electoral woes is to become more like the Democrats. That’s what their hero, Jim “see my nice haircut?” Edgar says, so it must be true.
Here’s how the Illinois Family Institute’s Dave Smith said it:
Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, doing commentary for a Chicago television news station as the election results were coming in said “if they [Republicans] recognized that the state’s moved a little to the left, and don’t move to the right,” they would fair better – in other words, the Illinois GOP should move to the left. Is Edgar delusional? In Judy Baar Topinka the Republicans couldn’t have found a more socially liberal candidate to run against Rod Blagojevich, and it wasn’t even close! Furthermore, Edgar conveniently ignores the fact that a more conservative message helped the Democrats take control of Congress.
We challenge anyone to show us any policies based on Republican principles that were being effectively advanced nationally or in Illinois that would’ve caused electoral defeat.
As far as Illinois Republicans blaming national Republicans for their woes – we suggest they grow up. Republican state legislators all over the country survived the slaughter because voters understood they weren’t part of the problem.
Those of us who care about advancing good government realize that public opinion has to be moved to support the right policies. Those who care about their legislative career seem to care only about keeping their life easy – which means staying in office and doing the same old thing they’ve always been doing.
Those of us who believe Illinois voters will choose the right solutions if they will only be presented with them ignore Jim Edgar. He wasn’t only wrong about Judy Baar Topinka. We like what Ronald Reagan said in 1975 to a conference of conservatives right after the 1974 elections that were similarly lousy for Republicans:
“Since our last meeting we have been through a disastrous election. It is easy for us to be discouraged, as pundits hail that election as a repudiation of our philosophy and even as a mandate of some kind or other…
Our task is to make [voters] see that what we represent is identical to their own hopes and dreams of what America can and should be. If there are questions as to whether the principles of conservatism hold up in practice, we have the answers to them. Where conservative principles have been tried, they have worked…
I don ‘t know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, “We must broaden the base of our party”—when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents…
Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?
…Let us also include a permanent limit on the percentage of the people’s earnings government can take without their consent.
Let our banner proclaim a genuine tax reform that will begin by simplifying the income tax so that workers can compute their obligation without having to employ legal help…
Let us explore ways to ward off socialism, not by increasing government’s coercive power, but by increasing participation by the people in the ownership of our industrial machine…
A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.
I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.”
We have a few easy questions for Illinois Republican legislators.
1. Do you believe that the principles outlined in the GOP platform hold the keys to solving the myriad of problems of state government?
2. If you answered no, why don’t you just change parties? It’s a perfectly honorable thing to do and few will complain.
3. Do you believe that solutions based on Republican Party principles can be sold to the Illinois electorate?
4. If you answered no, why are you holding office? Please resign and make way for someone who does.
Rank-and-file Republican voters should burn up the phone lines in a different direction. They should call their Republican legislators and ask them if they agree with Edgar or with Reagan.
©2006 John Francis Biver