This week’s question: Columnist Jim Nowlan recently suggested that a movement be formed to “Throw the Bums Out” — defeat all incumbent executive and legislative elected officials – if no comprehensive, full-year state budget is approved by May 31. What do you think of that idea?
Jeff Rogers, editor
Desperate times call for desperate measures. And these are desperate times in state government.
The situation in Springfield has moved beyond dysfunction to danger. The inability of legislators and the governor to agree on a budget for 2 years is a threat to the health and well-being of the state and its residents.
Every lawmaker – regardless of party affiliation or time in office – shares responsibility. Voters in Illinois would be right to throw every single one of them out of Springfield and back into the real world where we live, and many of us struggle with the impacts of an ineffective state government.
A voter rebellion against every lawmaker associated in any way with the budget mess would send an incredibly powerful message, no doubt. While it would sweep out the main culprits in the Capitol, it would also take with it some good, well-intentioned lawmakers – some who represent the Sauk Valley.
But this isn't a time to pick and choose who stays and who goes. It's time to start over.
Unfortunately, it won't happen. While we, the voters, should throw the bums out, we won't. Districts are drawn to favor parties and incumbents. And voters don't pay close enough attention to politics to pull it off.
I hope I'm wrong, as I was about the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup. But I'm afraid on this one, I'm most likely right.
Kathleen Schultz, news editor
Sure, throw the bums out.
Power corrupts. Got it. Not everyone goes into politics for the right reasons. Check.
But I still believe devoting your life to public service is a noble endeavor – and one with a pretty long learning curve. Those who have become good at it, who are in it for the right reasons, should be supported. Those who lack the skills to do the job, or whose moral compass is out of whack, should go.
Wiping the slate clean is going to work only if the next crop is better than the last, and let's face it, in an era when you can't find people who care enough to fill a school board or a city council, when voter turnout barely cracks double digits, what are the chances?
It’s "too complicated to pick and choose" good legislators from bad? That sounds like an excuse to remain unengaged and uninformed.
Jim Dunn, editorial page editor
I grew up being proud of Illinois. Manufacturing, agriculture, education, research and development, interstate highway construction, creation of community college districts – our state was on the move. When tough decisions had to be made, politicians bravely made them – Gov. Richard Ogilvie’s signing of the state’s first income tax bill comes to mind.
I’m not as proud of our state now. We’ve got so many financial problems, and state politicians, year after year, have proved unwilling or unable to work together to solve them. That’s what we send them to Springfield to do, isn’t it? If they won’t solve problems, they need to be replaced by people who will.
Today’s pols likely remember what happened to Ogilvie after he OK’d the income tax – voters threw him out of office. So what? Ogilvie did what needed to be done, and his political courage put Illinois on sound financial footing for decades to come.
We need statesmen and stateswomen to come to the fore and rescue Illinois. So far, today’s legislators and statewide officeholders haven’t been up to the challenge. I’m tired of it. We need results. Time for a change. Throw the bums out!