Many Illinois Republicans are less than encouraged fourteen months into the reign of the new General Assembly leadership. Like fans unhappy with the performance of their team, they’re still awaiting evidence that the new players will perform better than the old ones.
Now for those who never tire of receiving brain-numbing political mail, dry legislative newsletters, “surveys,” or reading news stories generated from inane press releases, your web browser can now lead you to a near endless supply thanks to the House and Senate Republican Caucus websites.
Lee has been relegated to the backbench and Pate to the fishing pond, and the smiling faces of the proud new Republican legislative leadership teams radiate from the computer screen. Pointing and clicking through the websites it’s easy to imagine how proud they all must be at being out there on the cutting edge of the information age.
It’s too bad that people in their kitchens and their cars, in their offices and at the taverns could care less. Impacted by the realities of high Illinois unemployment levels and weary of political corruption, over-burdened taxpayers are more concerned with the results of having too much government.
If you’re interested in how Republican House members are solving the big public policy challenges of our day, news of their recent gallant exploits can be read at their Legislative News section. Hopefully you’ll have more success than I did at finding any substantive proposals on how to really limit government, restructure our health care system, or revamp the public schools.
I did find a story about how complicating the tax code further can be called “tax fairness,” as well as a lot of information about other bills that remind me of the now infamous windshield wiper law.
What the GOP caucuses need is a handful of big proposals worthy of the public’s attention. The Senate R’s have a good one on the Governor’s addiction to debt and the House R’s have made a good start on a comprehensive medical malpractice reform package. Too bad few people will hear about them.
It’d also be nice to see these Republicans spend a lot more time reviewing and reporting on state spending, as there is very little real oversight being performed by legislators over the $54 billion dollar state budget. A tax and spend limitation law like those that work so well in other states would be a welcome sight.
Unless the new leadership starts to do something differently than the old, we’re destined for another eight years of minority status. Senate Minority Leader Frank Watson and House Minority Leader Tom Cross should immediately fire their entire press and political staff and outsource these operations. The leaders should then retain the services of professional marketing, public relations, and advertising agencies that understand how to connect with 2004 America.
Private sector talent should be brought in to set a strategy for getting the message out on Republican alternatives to growing government and increasing regulations. This, of course, begs the question: do they have enough alternatives? Their current press and political offices are just fine if they have nothing to sell.
Since most political types already think they’ve got everything figured out, my suggestion will probably fall on deaf ears. Outsiders aren’t welcome or needed, especially when their proposals would require a new way of thinking and more work from elected officials set in tired old ways.
The Republican primaries are over — so these are the players we’ll have through January, 2007. Our only hope is for this team to reach out for an innovative game plan designed by pros who successfully launch new products and services and information about them into the marketplace every day.
For those of us still waiting to see proof that these new players can win, such a step would help make up for the lack of evidence found on those caucus websites.