A lot of politically active people here in Illinois have heard the refrain: “Republican in-fighting is bad, we should be fighting Democrats instead.” Those words are always intended to shut up the platform-supporting segment of the party, which, by the way, is by far the largest segment.
The irony is the failed and tired old guard of the Illinois GOP has done far more “in-fighting” over the years in the form of shutting down reform and preventing the rise of new talent within the ranks.
For many years I’ve watched the drama play out. Election cycle after election cycle the old Thompson/Edgar/Ryan contingent, well funded by clueless “money guys,” and staffed by hacks and other profiteers both large and small, used their superior resources to stomp out any threats to their petty but often times profitable political fiefdoms.
TypicallyÂ it has been the Illinois General Assembly Caucus campaign committees that have acted as the front line muscle to keep the party mostly brain-dead and paralyzed. Special interest money flows into those caucus PACs and has been a handy tool for preventing the rise of better leadership.
Unfortunately, it’s possible to spend a lot of time in the political arena and still remain clueless about why, exactly, GOP Platform principles rarely see the light of day in Illinois government. To paraphraseÂ F. Scott Fitzgerald, for those veterans, politics “is much more successfully looked at from a single window.” Many who’ve been around a good while spend too long in one place – and their little bit of knowledge turns out to be detrimental.
Even some people who should know better parrot the idiotic line – “let’s quit the infighting and unite to fight Democrats,” as if there hasn’t been any cause for a GOP civil war. Listen, we are not where we’re at in Illinois by accident. Corrupt, mal-motivated, and incompetent Republicans have been the problem in this state all along.
Democrats are like a dog that pees on the rug. They do what they do. It’s our job to do something about it, and our would-be GOP “leaders” and Republican money “Brahmans” failed completely to stop the Democrats from making Illinois’ fiscal situation a mess.
Those who have been struggling to improve the Illinois Republican Party by recruiting competent and principled people on to the field are the ones who have always understood that the only way to defeat Democrats is with high caliber Republicans.
In recent years a handful ofÂ good candidates have actually gotten through the gauntlet and are now members of the state house and senate. And with the bottoming out of the Republican Party after the 2008 election, more establishment types have feigned support of good policy in order to catch the wave created by the tea party and 9/12 groups.
The Illinois senate Republicans actually released a budget outline last week. This column has been pleading for such an act for about eight years – this is one of the good signs on the horizon.