With less than two months to Election Day, we can expect to have campaign ads and speeches thrown at us from every direction until we are all muttering under our breath about how we can’t wait until Nov. 7 arrives.
What we are likely to hear: Why an opponent is bad.
What we want to hear: What the candidate will do if elected.
We don’t want to paint with too wide of a brush: Some campaign ads out there focus on what incumbents have accomplished or what challengers promise to work toward if elected. As our editorial board has interviewed candidates this month, we’ve been pleased that some – although nowhere near all – have primarily focused on how they feel they can help constituents if elected.
But it seems like the majority of what we’re hearing – be it a commercial or an interview – involves attacks on opponents. They provide half-truths or accusations of shady deals with few details . If you want general statements that make good sound bites, most politicians are happy to oblige. But details on how they’ll work to solve the state’s problems? They’ll get back to you after they have your vote – at which time, it’s too late to know if you’ve made a mistake in giving them your trust.
Here’s our wish to all candidates for the rest of the campaign: Stop talking about what your opponent is or isn’t doing. Start talking about what you will do if you’re elected.
It’s easy to zero in on the race for governor, given the obscene amount of money being spent – more than $200 million so far, including the primary. Huge portions of that are coming from the private wealth of incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker. And with 7 more weeks to go, that amount is going to get higher as the airwaves get flooded with even more trash-talking advertisements from these two.
In our ideal rundown to Election Day, we don’t solely hear Rauner just blame House Speaker Michael Madigan for every woe that has befallen Illinois or only hear Pritzker call the governor a failure.
We want to hear Rauner go more into detail about his realization that he misjudged how hard it is to effect change in government and how he is going to be less confrontational. He has always touted a property tax freeze and a desire to roll back the most recent income tax increase. We want to know how he will do it and still ensure all of the state’s needs can be met.
And Pritzker can start by providing actual details on his idea to move Illinois to a graduated income tax. While we appreciate that he would want a bipartisan group of people to help draft a new tax system (if that is the direction the state chooses to go), his plan lacks definition. He says only the wealthy will pay more, and the middle class less. Well, “wealthy” is a subjective term. Voters want specifics, as in: Will I have to pay more?
A multitude of other issues deserve to be seriously discussed. Off the top of our heads: How will you deal with the unfunded pension liability? How will you wipe out the unpaid bill backlog? What can you do to improve Illinois’ economy? Can this state ever have an actual balanced budget?
Politicians are asking for votes. Every voter likely has their own set of essential questions they would like answers to. They deserve a more nuanced picture of what each candidate will do if elected.