What the Chicago Tribune chooses to ignore, the Illinois Review chooses to feature. In our opinion, these ideas are worth contemplating: Jennifer Nevins' frank response to an op-ed advocating the struggling IL GOP stay on course.
Recently, in the wake of the blue tsunami that decimated whatever shreds of influence the state’s Republican Party thought it had, the Chicago Tribune featured a commentary by Bruce Rauner campaign staffer Patrick Wohl titled, “Don’t Let Rauner Loss Spark a GOP Race to the Right.” Wohl’s essential message– "Moderates, stay the course!" –undoubtedly soothes many a mind in the Illinois Republican leadership. Of course, the person shelling out this advice helped usher an incumbent governor into a spectacular loss, but Wohl’s intended audience is likely blind to the irony. They have become so accustomed to their strategic failures that this familiar counsel makes good sense.
While Wohl’s message is reaffirming to Illinois’ political establishment, his message also reaffirms the IL GOP's largely conservative voting base’s view that its leadership will never take them seriously. The perennial tension between the state’s moderate and conservative flanks has now devolved into total breakdown. The author and likeminded operatives, however, dismiss the dysfunction while they smugly believe that, eventually, the conservative mutts will heel.
As intelligent people, the Party leaders labeled the election results a bloodbath. They are lightning quick to add, however, that the results were also predictable. Yes, they certainly were that. But what is predicable is also – to at least some degree- preventable, and preventable is not a word being used by Wohl or anyone else in the Illinois establishment. Admitting that the defeats – particularly Rauner’s – were preventable implies failure. Failure implies blame, and that is something that the IL GOP has always done its level best to avoid.
Certainly, there were numerous chances to correct course. The most opportune of these was when conservative State Representative Jeanne Ives came within three points of besting Rauner in the gubernatorial primary despite bearing a gargantuan funding disadvantage. Indeed, Wohl concedes that her campaign expressed a legitimate concern that "Rauner had abandoned the Party.”
Unfortunately, the IL GOP leadership was not concerned. In the primary’s wake, the leadership attempted to mollify Ives voters by installing conservative operative Mark Shaw as the Party’s Co-Chairman. Astute voters , however, recognized the move for what it was: a clumsy maneuver meant to corral reluctant conservatives into the Rauner fold. The Governor , meanwhile, continued his leftward swerve even as the base howled.
Simply stated, if there is a book titled “How to Alienate Your Voting Base," the Illinois GOP borrowed Rauner’s dog-eared copy.
What is most incredible is that the same people that applaud Wohl’s dismissal of conservatives are the very same ones calling for unity. That would be swell if the appeal was genuine. It is not. The unity they have in mind is a sham analogous to the Democrat’s calls for “a dialogue” – that is – the Democrats will talk, and the Republicans will listen.
The IL GOP incarnation is similarly one sided: We will choose the candidates, and you will vote for them. Unfortunately or fortunately – depending on one’s perspective – much of the base now understands the reality of the proposition. Simply put, If the leadership wants to keep tossing meatless bones over the fence, they can now expect for them to be tossed back.
In the closing of his article, Patrick Wohl warned that the IL GOP might find itself relegated to the ash heap of history.
There is no “might” about it. Unless the state’s party leadership slate undergoes a thorough scrubbing, that is precisely what will happen.
They cannot say they weren’t warned. It was predictable.
Author's note: Not surprisingly, the party leadership believes that Donald Trump’s rhetoric created insurmountable obstacles for their candidates that eclipses any difficulties it has with the party’s largely conservative base.
Jennifer is a former precinct committeeman and board member from the Aurora Township Republican Central Committee and Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. As a conservative with a low tolerance for political nonsense, she appears on programs such as Beyond the Beltway and Chicago Tonight whenever the producers seek a nationalist-pro-Trump counterpoint to both progressive and establishment Republican perspectives.