Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Illinois: A Case Study for Why We Shouldn't Put All Our Political Eggs in the Federal Basket

I watched the GOP presidential debate tonight for the second time following Governor Palin's announcement not to run for the presidency. Since my preferred choice for president is not in the race, I now have several months to figure out how I'm going to plug my nose with both hands and still vote once I get into the booth during the primaries. I suppose a positive byproduct of Governor Palin's decision for me personally is that I've now realized that there needs to be more than just a focus on the presidential race. Congressional and Senatorial races need to be a focus as do races at every level of government including more locally. There is need for conservative ideals to be put into place very locally. This is often missed. However, as Governor Palin often says, "local governments are most responsive".

Here in Springfield, there was a referendum on our ballot in 2010 to create an efficient panel made up of Springfield residents to recommend ways to make government more efficient to the city council. This passed and has since been implemented. Is efficiency a noble goal? Yes. Is creating an additional quasi-bureaucracy? Yes. This is why it is important to have solid conservatives at a city level. Efficiency commissions, aside from being oxy moronic, are unnecessary if government does its job.  Two years ago, a Lincoln era home was to be moved to after a medical clinic purchased some land for their parking lot. The city did not have the proper funding in place to move the house anywhere, so it sat in the middle of the street for nearly a month before it was moved to its new location. Historic preservation at a local level is up to the discretion of  the council, but the foresight to fund the foundation for the new location was lacking. It turned out to be a embarrassing visual for the ineptness of politicians. When we voted in a new mayor that year, the man who won ended trading political positions for endorsements. Cronyism is pervasive at every level of government, which is why it needs to be fought at every level.

 On a state level, even a mediocre Republican candidate, Bill Brady, for governor in 2010 came within a few thousand votes of winning in Illinois. What would this have done? For starters, a gerrymandered plan proposed by the Democratic legislature to re-district Congressional districts after the census would have been vetoed. This is merely political though. On an issue of policy, it likely would have meant there would be a governor more seriously address spending. During the lame duck session, the Democratic legislature and the governor passed a 67% state income tax increase and a 40% + state corporate tax increase. Given this, a GOP governor likely would have still decreased spending to help address the massive deficit facing the state. Instead, the Democratic  governor, Pat Quinn increased the budget while falsely claiming cuts to the budget. We currently have in office an attorney general, Lisa Madigan, who has picked her pet issues to defend. She constantly fights against a 16 year old law on parental notification for a teen abortion while at the same time advocating for all Illinois gun owners' names to be listed publicly. These are just a few of the numerous issues where having strong conservatives in office is imperative.

Getting true conservatives in office in a state like Illinois is a tall order. There are big political machines on both sides of the aisle that need to be defeated, but it can be done. It has been done. Take a look at the political career of the likes of a Sarah Palin. To be sure, having a solid president in office and a competent Congress are important both for the sake of the image portrayed to the world and more importantly because of their approach to handling spending, entitlements, energy, jobs etc. As far as we're concerned, however, the effects of government reach far beyond that in our personal lives. I for one don't appreciate the additional chunk of change taken out of my paycheck due to the tax increase passed by an inept state government. This is why the federal basket should not be our only activist basket. Whether it's the school board, city council, state representative or even as a precinct committeeperson (51% of Illinois precincts don't have GOP committeepeople) or even issue advocacy, local involvement is important.

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