Whichever side of the partisan divide you stand on, I think there is broad consensus in Illinois that Gov. Pat Quinn has been a bad leader and should not get another term.
We all know the case against Quinn because we have lived through the consequences of his inept leadership:
- Minimal job growth
- Despite raising personal income taxes, the state budget remains a mess and the state economy is struggling
- Defrauding taxpayers by using public money for private campaign work in 2010 and giving out state jobs in exchange for political work
- The worst credit rating of all 50 states
- The number of Illinoisans on state assistance is growing faster than the rate of job creation
- Lowest labor force participate rate since May 2006, the same number of unemployed people as July 2008
The primary reason that Pat Quinn should not get another term is that Illinois is better than the results listed above. In some states, hampered by bad demographics, geographic disadvantages or poor access to international markets, under-performing the rest of the country is understandable. In Illinois, the 5th most populous state in the union, located at the center of the country, with vast natural resources, an internationally famous megalopolis and ideally situated for transportation of all kind, results like this are totally unacceptable. We must demand better.
Elections are always about the future. This is particularly true if you are a 20-something like me who will bear the consequences for public policy choices made today. Therefore, it is not good enough for me to explain why Pat Quinn SHOULDN'T be governor, I need to articulate why Bruce Rauner SHOULD be our next governor.
Bruce Rauner is the first candidate for Illinois governor in many years to possess the qualities and skills necessary to help Illinois achieve it's full potential.
So what makes Rauner the right person to lead the 5th largest state in the country? Here are the top 5 reasons from the perspective of a young Illinoisan:
1) Bruce Rauner is as close to incorruptible as you can get in politics
Why does this matter to a young person? Public corruption and fraud have a heavy price tag that get passed on to future generations. When state contracts include bloated promises that are to be paid by those of us who barely started working, it locks in a reality of future tax hikes that will be higher than any of our future wage increases. Using public debt to finance politically expedient programs that do not help long term development for the state passes a financial burden onto our generation and that of our children.
The recent history of Springfield is riddled with politicians who make themselves rich by passing crippling regulations in exchange for lobbyist favors and then they start law firms so private citizens have to pay them to navigate the very laws they passed in the first place. In case you haven't heard, Bruce Rauner is very wealthy. Bribes aren't going to be attractive to him. Lobbyists and lawyers can line up outside his office offering vacations, private jets and sports cars in exchange for favors; but, Rauner can laugh in their face knowing that their money is a pittance compared to his personal fortune. Seriously, who is going to buy influence with Rauner? He has every incentive to do right by the people of the state so he can get another term and no incentive to jeopardize his reputation for worldly goods that he can already buy himself.
2) You may not have to move away to find good jobs
Unlike past governors, Bruce Rauner's primary focus is to create jobs in Illinois. He is staking his legacy on his promise to generate job growth. That is great news for 20-somethings who want to stay here but can't find work to support their cost of living. Rauner's business acumen and experience give him a unique understanding of what people need to start successful small businesses. His national and international business relationships will give Illinois an inside edge over other states in drawing capital investment and getting large national companies to bring some of their jobs to our state without using tax incentives.
Rauner's economic plan is the most comprehensive of any governor in the country today and seizes on Illinois' natural advantages. While one governor can not jump start the state economy on his own, the fact that a credible leader will be presiding over the state should help calm the fears that the business community has about making investments in Illinois. If Rauner is able to jump start business growth, then not only will college grads and skilled young workers have plenty of good paying jobs to choose from, unskilled students who are still working their way through their education will have abundant opportunity as well. Getting people off welfare programs and back to work will dramatically decrease state budget deficiencies. Nothing helps a state budget faster than turning low income residents who receive state dollars into middle income residents who stop receiving those benefits and begin paying income taxes instead.
3) You can seriously consider settling down here to raise a family
Twenty-somethings think about more than just their self interest. Many of us are engaged and some already are married with young children. Where we decide to raise our families is a huge decision and one we take seriously. Many young people have decided to move to high growth states with reliably good schools because they have come to believe their children will have more opportunities and a better long term environment in which to raise a family if they move away. When you start thinking about buying a house, and the property tax and education considerations involved with that, we start thinking about all the states we might want to move too. This is especially true if you have family in another state.
Bruce Rauner's tax and education policies, if implemented, will give young families a break and make us more likely to consider staying. If Illinois is going to have a bright future, it needs young professionals and colleges grads to stay, get married, raise families, buy houses and get involved in their communities. Hopefully, a few of those families will go on to start businesses that create even more jobs and opportunity. It all starts with keeping young people from leaving the state.
4) You can be proud to be an Illinoisan again
Let's admit it, as young people, we like to live in a "cool" state. Illinois will never be as glamorous as New York or California and will never have the tropical appeal of Florida. We don't need to. We just want to be a welcoming Midwest hub of culture, creativity and prosperity. Chicago is the key to that image. If we can get students and international tourists to our biggest city, we might be able to get some of them to explore other parts of our historic state. Bruce Rauner will never be the national figure that Chris Christie has become but he can become known as the leader/champion of a revitalized Illinois. He represents a break from the past, a breathe of fresh air and a chance to rebrand this state as one the is open for business and welcoming of anyone who wants to work or visit. The improved reputation of the state will help inspire confidence in young people to not only stick around a trendy state but maybe to move back if they already left.
5) Someone who will listen to us
Most politicians don't care about 20-somethings. We don't vote in the same numbers as older voters and we don't have as much money. Bruce Rauner understands that helping the youth of the state is an investment in the future which will pay dividends. More than a year before the primary election, Bruce came to a Chicago Young Republican Happy Hour event in the loop. He shook every hand and listened intently as young person after young person came up to ask him questions and tell their story. He connected immediately with the room and was generous with his time. It's a small gesture, but many politicians ignore after-work events like this. Rauner was genuine and engaged. More importantly, Bruce has six children of his own and thinks about the what kind of state will await them in the future.
I am not writing all of this to suggest Bruce Rauner is a perfect man, with a flawless life who will save Illinois. I simply believe that who he is and what he stands for is in line with what this state needs from it's governor if young people who live here are going to have a good adult life. We should feel good about taking our chances with Bruce Rauner, because we have no chance with Pat Quinn.
If you believe, as I do, that Illinois really is a special state that has unique opportunities to capitalize on, than I hope you will agree with me that Bruce Rauner is the perfect person to lead our state out of the past decade and a half of misery and into the next generation of shared prosperity.
If you are in your 20s, you may not be able to remember a time when Illinois was a respected, relevant state in the country. Illinois can be a desirable place again, home to a booming economy with broad opportunity for people of all skill levels. Our education system can be #1 in the country. Our budget can be balanced and our taxes fair. To achieve this, we need a new leader in Springfield.
We have lived through Rod Blagojevich/Pat Quinn's administrations and know they failed to achieve these promises because their ideas were as bad as their corrupt leadership. Bruce Rauner is the credible alternative we have been looking for. His election truly would shake up Springfield in a way that would deeply disturb the established political class. If you believe Bruce can fulfill his promise of bringing back Illinois, than I ask you to not only vote for Bruce Rauner, but to vote early. Don't wait until Election Day, have your voice heard now. Early Voting is under way but Sunday is the last day to early vote. To find out where you can cast your ballot, click here if you are in Chicago, here if you live in Cook County outside Chicago, and here for information on early voting throughout the state.
If you miss early voting and are not voting absentee, then show up to your designated polling place on November 4th. Not sure where that is? Find out now!
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