Wanted: People with the ability to lead

John McCain trails Barack Obama in the national polls on this last Sunday in September and in Illinois it’s not even close. McCain might still win the election but in Illinois it’s already over. The reason for this is what we’ve been saying on this website for years: a lack of effective Republican leadership.

Unfortunately the sad story of the IL GOP has somehow been mirrored nationally. President George W. Bush and Speaker Dennis Hastert chose not to work for domestic policy reforms (such as we outlined here) and instead increased the size of government as if they were liberal Democrats.

Just as big government and ill-advised liberal government mortgage policy has stacked the deck against Republicans in this fall’s election, the Illinois economy is staggering under a record tax burden and suffering sluggish growth and employment numbers.

So do we hear our Illinois GOP leadership trumpeting Republican principles loudly and outlining how they’d do things differently if they were in charge? No. Instead, individual members whine about their caucuses having to defend more seats than ever.

Incumbent Republican legislators are always so proud of the fact that they have access to inside information when it comes to polls that are being conducted when instead they should be boasting about what they’re trying to do to impact those poll numbers.

There’s little debate about the fact that Democrats are mismanaging Illinois government – yet they’re going to win in a rout in this year of Obama.

Instead of a Sarah Palin like revolt against failed, corrupt, and compromised leadership, we see fecklessness. Instead of an energized state central committee, we see inaction, no vision, and people with glaring conflicts of interest holding onto titles made empty by their lack of worthwhile action. The Republican brand should be on the rise in Illinois; instead, our leaders continue to give the party a bad name.

For those who support truly limited government there has been constant disappointment as past Republican administrations and General Assemblies have willingly participated in a record-setting spending binge that has been going on for over ten years.

It’s pretty clear in September 2008 that many Republicans in office are there for the wrong reasons. They’re just holding a nice job or enriching themselves or their friends through contracts and patronage. They’re acting as a seat-warmer or biding time until they get their generous taxpayer funded pension.

If this wasn’t the case we’d see proof.

We need political leaders willing to lay down new markers and raise expectations. We need individuals willing to do the heavy lifting of learning the problems, the solutions, and the art of communicating to and connecting with a busy population.

We need leaders willing to bring the political campaign and legislative office into the modern era.  It’s time for candidates and legislators to keep a regular stream of good information flowing to the public. It’s time for them to simplify, communicate, and stop complicating government in order to hide their own ineffectiveness.

Government at all levels is huge and still growing. There are well-funded and well-organized special interest groups vying for the attention of every elected official. Taxpayers who are not allied with particular special interests rarely organize – they’re too busy earning the money to pay the taxes.

We’ve got one status-quo party – it’s called the Democratic Party. They hold power in Illinois with the help of their entrenched, well-funded allied interests including government employees, their unions, and everyone who is on the receiving end of taxpayer dollars. The largest special interest group is that of government itself.

The other party, the Republican Party, is moribund, silent, and wasting the opportunity availed by its bully pulpits. Nothing in politics moves unless it is pushed. Public opinion does move – and real political leadership pushes.

Eighteenth century statesman and author Edmund Burke is often quoted as saying “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” What he actually did say was:

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an un-pitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

It is possible to do things differently – to associate – and the time to start is now.

Up next: Fixing the failure of our Republican politicians.