How much closer to Detroit or Puerto Rico must Illinois go before it reforms?
That’s now the central question, and this week we’ve learned we have much further to go. The primary culprits in Illinois’s collapse ran the field – Chicago machine Democrats retained firm control of both houses of the General Assembly and won every statewide office. Congressional election results were just as dismal.
Plenty of Republicans share blame. Bruce Rauner was a failure, deeply alienating even his base. The number of genuine Republican reformers who understand Illinois’ problems who are candid enough to speak about them remain few.
None of that came as a surprise, except the race for Attorney General, and that result is terrifying. Erika Harold was a solid candidate but was trounced by Kwame Raoul. Raoul will present a special obstacle to reform and Illinois’ economy, politicizing law enforcement on behalf of his sponsor, House Speaker Michael Madigan, just like his predecessor. Raul’s race was a straight up test of Illinois’ sanity, and it failed.
In almost all other races, Illinois voters effectively chose to believe they can “vote themselves money,” as Benjamin Franklin put it, which, he said will “herald the end of the Republic.”
Their lesson will come, though when remains unclear.
They chose, more precisely than ever, the malfeasance and corruption that long ago set the state’s trajectory into the abyss, and offered no indication of what or when would be enough to convince them they’ve reached the bottom. A bottom will come, but when? Something then will arise, but what?
Personally, it’s one of my favorite, historical pictures that haunts the short term but inspires hope for a later day. It shows the first business to reopen in Chicago after the Great Fire, marking the start of a hundred rip roaring years when Chicago was among the most dynamic cities on the planet.
A similar day, far, far off, is all we can hope for.