Nice Speech, Mr. Pritzker. What Now?

The media’s post-mortem on the election in Illinois is going true to its script. Frankly, I’m bored with that, and have my own observations I’d like to share.

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Pritzker gave a pretty good speech, making promises to all the necessary constituencies while failing to mention the one that matters most: the one which will have to pay the bill. I guess we’ll find out what he has in store for that constituency when he gives his budget address.

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In his speech, he said “We make no small plans.” He’s also on record as saying he’ll consider suggestions from Republicans on how to move forward out of our fiscal mess. Here are a few, offered free of charge. How about a private-sector examination of the operations of state government, or honest-to-goodness property tax reform or pension relief, all of which are Republican initiatives? Mr. Pritzker, our door is open.

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To the people in DuPage and South Suburban Cook County, who pay the highest property tax bills in the country, if you voted for Democrats in state and county races to send a message to Donald Trump, nice going. By doing so, you chose to let the fox in to guard the henhouse. You’re going to find, and I believe soon, that the people you elected on Tuesday will do nothing but increase your burden and then tell you that it’s someone else’s fault. Elections have consequences, and you will not be forgiven.

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To my own party, where do I begin? We lost this race for one reason and one reason only. We deserved it.

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We saw millions being thrown into our races in 2016 and thought that this was the wave of the future. In the span of two short years, we learned that one-person financing is a fickle thing and that the other side could play that game, bringing greater resources to the table. Money doesn’t talk, it swears.

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We saw a Governor who pissed away everything he ran on in 2014, and did it by negotiating against himself. Petrified by the thought of losing our funding, we didn’t do the right thing and take over the message. We stood idly by while he blamed Mike Madigan for his own failures and by extension, ours. While Nero fiddled, Rome burned, and all we did this cycle was send out thousands of ads with bad pictures of Mike Madigan on them, hoping they’d act as some kind of voodoo curse.

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We ignored the evidence of the demographic shifts that are going on in our own back yards. Instead of adapting ourselves to those shifts, we find ourselves in a cage match against a faction of our own party that is hell-bent on instituting a purity test for admission. Politics is the art of compromise, and if the Republican Party is going to get close to being relevant in this state, we need to broaden our appeal, not run behind ideological walls and pull the drawbridge up behind us. By broadening our appeal, we don’t need to sacrifice our principles, far from it. By articulating our principles within the framework of legislative proposals that affect peoples’ lives and without imposing judgment, we can make people see that what we have to offer is something better than what they get from the other side.

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Having retreated behind their respective tribal walls, both parties have created a vacuum in the great chasm which is the middle. Nature abhors a vacuum, and it will be filled. We have a golden opportunity to fill that vacuum if we’ll but just take the chance. But we can’t wait until the next election, when all we’ll get will be grenades launched at each other with bad photos of Mike Madigan and Donald Trump. We need to do it now.

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One Response to Nice Speech, Mr. Pritzker. What Now?

  1. Steve,

    Your commentary is brilliant.

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