To borrow from former President Barack Obama, who once said his own party got shellacked by Republicans, Illinois Democrats ripped the faltering Illinois Republican Party a new one in Tuesday's midterm elections.
How did that happen?
- Blame the Republicans themselves for their ineptitude. Illinois GOP leaders need to find themselves some new political advisors; the ones now prowling the landscape have run out of any good ideas that appeal to voters. The message they have crafted has been confusing if not outright stupid. You couldn't have asked for a better setting, as Democrats have turned the state into a boiling pot of crap. But it's not enough to just to blame House Speaker Mike Madigan; you've got to explain why Democrats have screwed the very people they're supposed to be championing: The schools that are failing; the possibility that public employees won't get their pensions; social service agencies that have run out of money, and on and on.
- Closely related to that is the fractured Republican Party. Sure, everyone has to fight for their beliefs, but withholding your vote--as did some conservatives--because your candidate didn't win the primary amounts to cutting your own throat. You mean to tell me that the Democrat Party machine running thing is preferable to Gov. Bruce Rauner?
- Gee, thanks President Donald Trump. Your ego was more important than giving some GOP candidates a better chance of winning. Representatives Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren were fine, thoughtful Republicans whose campaigns were doomed by Trump's loudmouth. If he had campaigned in their suburban districts, they would have lost by bigger margins.
- Sure, the demographics have changed; Evanston and the North Shore--Republican bastions in my youth long ago turned into Democratic reserves. The young, liberal minded have been moving north and west into the suburbs--those are families who have fled Chicago for good reasons, but who didn't leave their Democratic party affiliations behind. For too many of them, their ideology means more to them than saving Illinois from the Democratic-orchestrated wreckage. Republicans need to do a better job of explaining the issues in personal terms.
- Let's not leave out Madigan's successful gerrymandering of Illinois' congressional and legislative districts for a couple of decades that makes it virtually impossible for some Republicans to win. Here's the irony: Democrats around the country are crazy mad about how Republicans have drawn districts to favor themselves, but here, in Illinois, they're silent about how Madigan has done the same thing when if favors Democrats. It's called hypocrisy.
- Money, tons of it. Speaking about hypocrisy, not a peep out of Democrats about how J.B. Pritzker bought the governorship. It's staggering. Where is all the condemnations about how big money corrupts politics now that someone from the Democrat Party is the richest elected official in America. According to Forbes:
Pritzker stood out for setting a new record in self-financing: Forbes estimates he has given the largest amount of his own money to his campaign in U.S. history—$171.5 million (the campaign spent a total of $135.9 million on the election). Rauner, who was an early partner in a Chicago-based private equity firm, spent $57.8 million on his own reelection campaign in 2015 and 2016. Together, their personal spending during this election cycle almost hit $230 million.
I, for one, will cheer Democrats who call for campaign finance reform--if it also applies to Illinois.
- Democrats successfully persuaded voters that Rauner created the state's problems by, for example, failing to pass a budget for a couple of years. Except that it was the Madigan-led Democrats (later helped by a few renegade Republicans) who gave the governor the choice of having to approve an irresponsible, deficit-heavy budget. This did not start with Rauner.
- Rauner bungled the election by signing a precedent-setting law that funds abortions and pursuing other "moderate" actions, some of them pressed forward by his liberal wife. She gets her share of the blame, although as a supporter (as is Bruce) of Planned Parenthood, they're probably not too concerned. Rauner might have been thinking that he would capture moderate, independent, young and women voters, but the strategy grossly failed.