Let me say up front that long-term I’m still optimistic. But for the short term (the next several election cycles), I see few signs of intelligent life on our side here in Illinois. Tens of millions of dollars are generously being donated to Illinois Republican and conservative and MAGA causes in Illinois. However, the people raising and spending the big money show almost no understanding about what it is going to take to turn this state purple, let alone red.
Writing this does not make me popular. Honestly, I could not care less. Working class Illinoisans continue to suffer even as members of the Republican Conservative Industrial Complex make a good living. And in fact, several of the RCIC members have become rich from many income streams in the business of politics. Donors, as I mentioned last time, seem unaware of this reality.
What is it going to take to turn Illinois purple? Ohio, a state much like Illinois, was once purple, but was turned solidly red. Florida, not quite like Illinois, but it too went through a purple phase before being turned red.
It is going to take innovation—and a change of funding priorities. The political campaigns and approaches of the past will not cut it. The Illinois Republican Conservative Industrial Complex does not know how to pivot to anything new because they have never bothered to study the arena in depth. Unlike any field where real expertise is required for innovation and success, politics is treated as “just politics.” No big deal. Anyone can figure it all out—many think they have without any experience at all. The state of our nation and the state of Illinois proves my point.
The failure in our state is massive—any successes are dwarfed by the failures of the political grifters. And no, I’m not going to lay out the solution here. If anyone wants to reach out to me I can give them a thumbnail sketch of what’s required. Here’s a small clue I’m willing to give: think tanks and TV ads are not the solution. Neither are grand political coalitions put together by people who have shown they do not comprehend the scale of the problem and thus the scale of the solution. I’ve labeled much of the good work getting done as “micro wonderfulness.” As lovely as it is, our side resembles a tiny country taking on a massive country in a war. But those people in that tiny country are busy—and many are very self-important.
The grifters can’t help themselves. They are “wise in their own eyes,” despite all the massive evidence to the contrary. At no point will they be a force for good—unless there is genuine repentance for their political failures.
So innovation and reform and renewal can and must come despite them. The tricky part is that funding is the key—if the donors continue to allow the grifters to give them a thrill up their leg—things will not get better. They are guaranteed to get worse, as they have in Illinois for many years.
What is needed is what Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance recently said on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast—we need an unprecedented army on the political battlefield if we are to win in 2024. Besides me, I know of no one in Illinois who has a plan to recruit and train that army or even what to do with it once it is mustered.
Image credit: Illinois Policy Institute.