Before I get to the problem of the Illinois Republican Party, a question: how do we get our government officials in the U.S.A.? Answer: we elect them. Now, you may be wondering why I begin here with something so simple, something we all take as a given? Let me answer that…
We DON’T elect them in Illinois. At least where it concerns selection of our Republican state central committeemen, anyway. It’s shocking, I know, but in the Illinois Republican Party, the voters have NO SAY WHATEVER in who takes a seat on the state central committee for the Ill GOP.
In Illinois, even the corrupt Democrat Party elects their central committeemen by rank and file voters. But not the Republicans. In the Illinois GOP the folks that guide our entire party establishment are afforded their seat by the selection of local precinct committeemen only, not by the votes of rank and file Illinois Republicans. The people have no direct say. None.
The selection process has been like this since the 1980s when the Illinois GOP pushed through an elimination of the primary system for electing state central committeemen. This change was pushed through without the input of the voters, too. (The Democrats, for their part, never abandoned electing its state central committeemen) It was merely decreed by the Illinois GOP and thus it became fact.
Now, many outside of Illinois have wondered for years just how it was that Ambassador Alan Keyes — who didn’t live in Illinois — so suddenly became the Illinois candidate for the Senate against Barack Obama in 2004? Well, the reason this quixotic choice was made was because the state central committee made the selection behind closed doors, without the input of the voters, for that matter without even the knowledge of the local committeemen. The unelected central committee met in secret, chose Alan Keyes and thus he became the candidate without the knowledge or input of Illinois voters. Then, once he emerged as the candidate, some members of the very committee that secretly chose him publicly came out and said they did not support Alan Keyes for Senate, undermining his campaign from the very start.
No wonder Barack Obama so easily won his Senate seat in 2004.
Now, in practice, this secret selection of central committeemen has created a Party essentially run by the powerful interests of the Democratic Party. The money spread by Democrats influences the secret selection of the Illinois GOP central committee members. For all intents and purposes, the Illinois Democratic Party chooses the members of the GOP central committee and these committee members act accordingly.
But, even were that not the case, the current process essentially disenfranchises Illinois Republican voters and distances the operations of the party from them. After all, why get too involved in party politics when there is no way to run for positions on the central committee and no way to get involved? It is a closed society of powerful interests not open to participation or influence by rank and file voters.
It should also be noted that this process also disenfranchises military voters, too. How absurd is it to note that the corrupt Democratic Party of Illinois allows its military voters to engage in electing its committeemen but the Illinois Republican Party does not? More than absurd, its shameful.
There has been for years a bill floating about the statehouse in Springfield, though, intent on reverting the committeemen selection process back to an election. It has failed in the past, but SB600 is being revived again and this time it seems to have more support than it ever had before.
Conservative stalwart, State Senator Chirs Lauzen (R-Aurora) is trying once again to get SB600 off the ground and through his hard work he’s gotten even the members of the committee itself — except member Dan Rutherford (R-Pontiac) — to sign on as co-sponsors.
It could be going into the Senate Elections Committee this week.
In a time when the Illinois Democratic Party has been exposed for the monumentally corrupt cancer that it truly is, this is the perfect time for the Illinois GOP to shed its own corrupt practices and open the party back up to control by the very voters whom it asks for support.
Kuddos to Senator Lauzen for his efforts thus far. May they bear democratic (small “d”) fruit.
Here is a good source on info on what SB600 means from Doug Ibendahl, a long-time Illinois Republican figure from Cook County (Chicago).