My friend Larry is running for the Republican nomination to become the State Representative of the 95th district. He understands his chances of beating the incumbent are slim because of how people get picked for these jobs and where the money comes from to run these campaigns. In recent years, while you and I are too busy putting shoes on the kids and paying the mortgage to fully analyze what kind of person really needs to sit in that chair (not that I have ever seen Larry sit much), a small group of wealthy donors funneled money to candidates who would support their personal agenda.
We live in concerning times. According to a recent Harris poll, more than 90 percent of us think we are on the verge of losing some of our most cherished civil rights. These include the right to free speech and expression, to practice the religion we choose, the right to bear arms, and even the right to a fair trial. The driving factor of these sentiments is that we have allowed our politicians and pundits to ramp up the political rhetoric to the point that absolutely everything is part and parcel of some inescapable culture war. We are constantly bombarded by warnings about one political figure or another threatening our most cherished values or even the very existence of our beloved nation. However, rhetoric is not reality. Some of these concerns may be warranted, but few are grounded in policy or practice.
Remember when Rauner was Governor? He said everything wrong was the fault of Chicago and Michael Madigan. For two and a half years, we had no budget and all the Republicans, who were taking their campaign money from Rauner or his backers, were pointing at Democrats. In turn, the Democrats were pointing back at the Republicans. The blame game achieved nothing, and you, fellow taxpayer, ended up $15 Billion in debt. Much of this debt could have been avoided if only someone had played the adult and said we need a budget, even if it was not perfect. Because without a budget, every contract signed gets paid late, which then earns interest for every month of delay.
Our current representative in the 95th was hand-picked by Rauner to push his narrow agenda. With no protest or independent thought, she was happy to go down the road of ever increasing debt. More recently, she was happy to raise your gas tax and related fees to help pay off the debt. Improving our infrastructure and paying off debt are worthy goals. However, achieving those goals by instating a regressive tax which burdens the most vulnerable in the State is nothing less than an admission our government has utterly failed to meet its most basic obligations.
In order to make the world a more sensible place, all of us need to stop voting for people who can be bought-- Republican or Democrat. We need to vote for someone who will do the right thing. Who will follow his or her conscience and look for pragmatic ways to make things work. Larry is that kind of guy. Go find out how to help him and others like him make the state of Illinois work again.