As Illinois Democrats gather in Denver to nominate their favorite son for the presidency a citizen of this great prairie state has to ask a lot of questions the national media will not cover. I mean this is Illinois week in Denver. Besides Obama a whole group of our leaders are speaking and sharing a lot of face time with the delegates, the media and the Senator. I sure wish they would get their act together in my state.
While the theme in Denver is "change" there is no state in all fifty that needs it more than Illinois. Our big three—Governor Rod Blagojevich, Speaker Michael Madigan (who doesn’t much like the governor himself), and Emil Jones, our senate president who is himself engaged in some strange retirement manipulation of the future, all continue to spend freely and bankrupt this great state.
Over the last six years these leaders have increased state spending by $9 billion, lifted our state debt to over $100 billion and at the same time managed to raise taxes and fees on employees and families in the state. The result is a state that is broken and out-of-work. If this is change you can have it.
Some communities in Cook County, which is Chicago’s county but there are many outlying towns in the county as well, want to secede from the county. Their beef? They believe they are being taxed without representation. There has always been a bitter rivalry between
Cook County municipalities and the City of Chicago but the rift is worse than ever now.
The infrastructure of our state is crumbling; e.g. our roads, schools and hospitals. And recent decisions have led to an unemployment number of over 400,000. And during the final sixty days of the most recent legislative session in Springfield Democrats voted themselves pay raises! This also included one for our governor, who by the way doesn’t even reside in the statehouse but rather in the Chicago area. They also introduced a bill that would double the income tax on families and produced a budget that is already unbalanced to the tune of $2 billion! There is nothing else to call but this but total and complete unreality. "It is gut check time" my coach used to tell us when things got bad. And in Illinois the party of change has destroyed the state and wants no part of accountability, or "gut check" right now. They have refused to reform ethics, to offer property tax relief and to enact a state construction program. And this is only the big ticket stuff.
Politics and partisanship is divisive. One party can make a mess just like the other. On the national stage the Republicans messed up between 1994-2006 and paid for it by losing Congress in 2006. In Illinois they messed up for more than a decade and this is what we got in return, more mess ups. The biggest loser here is the citizens of the state of Illinois.
The Land of Lincoln is in trouble and no one will hear about it in Denver this week I guarantee you.
Meanwhile I sure wish I knew for certain what all this "change" theme was about. The idealism of the call is challenging but the hard cold facts do not inspire me yet. Makes me want to visit Lincoln’s home again to regain my inspiration for what real leadership looks like in real crisis.