By Mark Vargas, Editor-in-Chief
For Republicans in Illinois, it’s DEFCON 1.
After heartbreaking losses, Democrats once again control every statewide office; they maintained a supermajority in the IL House and Senate; they dominated IL Supreme Court races; and they beat Republicans in winnable congressional races – giving Democrats free reign over local and state matters for the next four years.
For Republican voters, these are dark times.
But they will get better.
In his address to Congress in 1862, just one month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln sought to reassure a broken country and offer hope during challenging times.
“This occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion,” said Lincoln.
“We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”
The path forward here in Illinois is not an easy one, but at least there is a path – and a way forward.
With help from the grassroots, the IL GOP can select a leader that understands the dynamics of a diverse state.
With help from the grassroots, the IL GOP can select a leader that gives influential grassroots leaders – for once, a seat at the table.
With help from the grassroots, the IL GOP can select a leader that understands the power of the mama bear.
With help from the grassroots, the IL GOP can select a leader that understands the power of Black, Hispanic and Asian communities.
With help from the grassroots, the IL GOP can select a leader that understands the power of social media, and the influence it has on young voters.
With the help from the grassroots, the IL GOP can select a leader that understands that Republicans don’t win elections with mailers and television commercials – you win elections by registering new voters, deploying the grassroots and developing a comprehensive mail-in-ballot program.
The Democrats have perfected the mail-in ballot program. They executed it flawlessly and by the time Election Day rolled in, they knew they had a tremendous head start in terms of votes — and that there would be no way for Republicans to catch up in such a short amount of time.
With help from the grassroots, the IL GOP can select a leader that will make voter integrity initiatives a top priority.
Very little money was spent by Republicans on a Voter Integrity program. And absent were teams of lawyers ready to be deployed to hot spots throughout Cook County to put Democrats on notice that Republicans were watching them. No funny business.
As it’s been often said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
And lastly, with the help from the grassroots, the IL GOP can select a leader that will work hard to diversify the donor pool, and ensure that every Republican candidate receives the funding they need to win an election.
Spending $100 million on just two campaigns is a losing strategy and sends a message down ballot that the other races don’t matter. And although a rising tide lifts all boats – candidates need some funding to deploy their messages. And that didn’t happen this past election.
The traditional motto of the United States is “E Pluribus, Unum,” which means, “out of many, one.”
Here in Illinois – this can be more than a motto – it can be a call to action.
And once it is, we can’t lose.
Mark Vargas is Editor-in-Chief of Illinois Review, a columnist with Newsmax and currently hosts a radio show, “Mark My Words” with Mark Vargas on AM 560 The Answer. Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAVargas.