What happens when you throw a party and nobody comes? What happens when you keep throwing parties and people still don’t come? That’s pretty much the story here in Illinois for our state Republican Party. Last week we read the report about the sorry turnout during Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair. In a state with almost 13 million people, a count of 150 means it’s not an exaggeration to say almost nobody bothered to show up.
Before going any further, let me state that the idea that George Ryan is somehow to blame for the condition of the GOP in Illinois in 2008 is as ridiculous as anything I’ve ever heard. What counts are the current leaders.
Should the U.S. Attorney pursue our current governor like he did our last governor, the Democratic Party here won’t miss a beat. They will be strengthened because better advocates for big government, higher taxes, and radical social policies will take over.
I have been warning people about the sad state of our leadership for a long time now. In addition to detailed analysis on this website, we’ve discussed the problem and the solution on the radio. In short, we need a troop surge. This would be expedited tremendously if leadership ability was demonstrated at the top levels of our party and General Assembly caucuses. The power, after all, as we’ve written, isn’t in outside groups – it’s in the hands of our elected and party officials.
We’re not writing and talking about this to pass the time or because we get a charge out of bearing bad news. We’re doing it because the first step on the way to a cure is to realize the Illinois Republican Party is ill. To successfully recover, it’s important to “confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be,” to quote Jim Stockdale as we did last week.
Almost three years ago in late 2005 we began posting articles outlining that it was sure insanity for Andy McKenna, Frank Watson, and Tom Cross to line up behind Judy Baar Topinka for Governor.
After Topinka emerged from the primary, we urged a “none of the above” vote for the sake of the future, while offering many suggestions to the rest of the Republican candidates on the ballot in 2006 on how they could give voters a compelling cause to support them.
The Protect Marriage Illinois petition drive actually provided all the evidence our elected and party officials could ever need to show them there were thousands of people ready to step up and volunteer if they were only given a good reason. Unlike every other state GOP organization, the Andy McKenna led party listened instead to members of the gay and liberal cabal and forfeited the defense of traditional marriage.
After the disaster that was the November 2006 general election the Pioneer Press picked up the story that we had called for the ouster of Andy McKenna, Jr., as well as forÂ the rest of the 19-member Republican State Central Committee. We wasted no time, issuing a statement the day after election day.
“Fiscal policy and corruption are the issues that would have won this election for a Republican candidate. The problems in our state are so obvious that any voter could recognize them. We have a state government that is insatiable when it comes to revenues and corruption at nearly every level, but the [GOP] fielded a weak candidate who was unable to go after Blagojevich.”
We also told the press that we didn’t –
“…blame voters. Why would they vote for the Republican Party when it didn’t give them a reason to do so?”
“[We] find the excuse that Republicans here did poorly because it was a bad year nationally pretty entertaining when, in Illinois, we’ve steadily been losing ground for the last 10 years…”
That was November 2006. A trip through our archives will show that in early 2007 we called for a special convention to rejuvenate the Illinois Republican Party. We warned the rank and file that Andy McKenna wasn’t serious about his so-called “reform tour.” We wrote about the Iowa Straw Poll to contrast the difference between McKenna’s leadership and that being shown in a neighboring state.
Earlier this year we reported on how Andy McKenna’s crew was preventing good Republicans from participating in the state convention last June, and reported in detail how the 2008 convention managed to mirror the unprecedented failure of the 2004 convention.
The paltry attendance at Republican Day last week wasn’t the only news coming out of the State Fair. Republican leaders made it official that their excuse for the upcoming 2008 general election disaster in Illinois is the fact that Barack Obama leads the top of the Democratic Party ticket. No sense in waiting for November, might as well explain another historic defeat three months out.
Since McKenna, Cross, and Watson are already planning ahead with their Barack Obama excuse, some of us are also planning ahead. In November we’ll call for the resignation of Andy McKenna and the 19-member state central committee again but this time we’ll add a couple of additional names.
The failure of our current Republican leaders to take good advice and get serious about advancing a GOP principle based agenda is so stark that it’s time for state house and state senate Republicans to elect new caucus leaders.
If Tom and Frank can’t effectively build an opposition party to counter Rod Blagojevich, there is no way they are up to the task of taking on a Lisa Madigan or Dan Hynes as the Democratic Party standard bearer.
It’s also a good bet the state senate Democrats will pick a replacement for the retiring Emil Jones who will also improve the situation for the entrenched majority party’s state senate caucus.
To make it easier on their sensitive colleagues, Frank and Tom should resign their leadership posts. I’ll send a case of Kleenex to each caucus in advance of the emotional changing of the guard. We know the power of friendship. But we also know the power of leadership, and it’s time we see some.