By the Illinois Freedom Caucus
The disastrous 2022 Election has sparked a fierce debate within the Republican Party and, predictably, the Party’s left flank is blaming conservatives for the Party’s demise.
Devoid of evidence or data, they are declaring that conservatives are to blame for the Republican Party’s losses last November. They claim our party needs fiscally conservative and socially liberal candidates in order to win but they forget we have already been down this road.
As much as Republicans would like to forget, there was a candidate named Bruce Rauner on the ballot in Illinois in 2018.
He fit the establishment mold.
He was a card-carrying member of the country club, claimed to be a fiscal conservative, and was a social liberal and yet Bruce Rauner’s vote total of 1,765,751 in 2018 was nearly identical to the 1,728,204 votes Darren Bailey received in 2022. Interesting, given that overall, there were nearly 500,000 fewer voters who voted in 2022 than in 2018 but Bailey STILL had nearly the same number of votes as Bruce Rauner did in 2018.
Republicans arguing for fiscal conservatism and a liberal social agenda are largely the same Republicans who voted to raise the income tax, double the gas tax, and do nothing to stop harmful overreaches like Amendment 1 from passing. Is there really any evidence that these politicians have ever done anything but pay lip service to fiscal conservativism?
Suburban Republicans are not only losing state elections, they are also losing at the local level. This is a trend that predates Bailey and even Trump.
Contrast that with downstate where we worked hard to flip our counties from reliably blue to ruby red. Perhaps suburban Republicans should be doing more self-reflection on how THEY have lost the support of their voters over this same time period.
What Illinois needs is leadership.
Politicians who won’t defend their values are uninspiring and we should not be surprised when they lose elections. The solution is not to abandon Republican values and principles but to DEFEND them. Show the voters how our values and policies translate into more opportunity and a higher quality of life for every citizen.
If our leaders don’t defend our values or articulate a vision – why should voters care?
We do not contend that conservatives should be completely held harmless for the election debacle in 2022. Conservatives need to understand that being right on the issues does not alone make a candidate best suited to win. Electability, capability, and political talent are also essential ingredients to be politically successful in a state like Illinois.
There is a path for Republicans to keep rural voters and win in the suburbs.
Ron DeSantis has been doing it in Florida for four years. He stands alone as the only Republican at the national level who did something about the school closings, radical gender ideology, and woke policies that were being forced on students and businesses. DeSantis won big because he strategically and specifically pushed back on the far-left extremists. He clearly and articulately outlined his beliefs, defended them vigorously and his party and legislature in Florida backed him up.
He did not fold like an Illinois establishment Republican. He presented a vision and a plan, governed boldly, and he won in places Republicans have never won before in the State of Florida.
This is possible in Illinois, but it is going to take candidates that won’t run away from the tough issues that Democrats are pushing to the far-left extremes. It is also going to take a change in attitude from our party’s leaders.
The arrogance and condescension displayed at the recent State Central Committee meeting is illustrative of how far we need to go to unify our party. People who gave their time to knock on doors, attend rallies, put up signs to elect Republican candidates were treated with disdain when they drove hundreds of miles to attend this meeting and express their point of view.
This is unacceptable.
The base of our party is tired of being ignored. Yes, we need donors to get our message out but more importantly we need an actual message. The path to victory is not finger pointing and playing the blame game but rather to unify around the basic principles of individual liberty, limited government, free market economics, and a respect for life and our Constitution that defines our party.
The Illinois Freedom Caucus (IFC) is comprised of State Representatives Chris Miller (R-Oakland), Adam Niemerg (R-Dieterich), Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville), Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City), and Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur). The members of the Illinois Freedom Caucus are members of the Illinois General Assembly who are advocating for limited government, lower taxes, accountability and integrity in government. To learn more about the IFC and to contribute to their mission, visit the IFC website.