An Open Letter To Illinois Conservatives

Dear Fellow Conservatives,

This past week has been heartbreaking for many well-meaning folks who want to see our State prosper, including me. We saw a Christian conservative hopeful for governor turn and attack ten Christian conservative hopefuls trying to keep their seats in the Illinois general assembly or replace the Democrats in those seats. This action broke with the 11th commandment, often attributed to President Ronald Reagan, “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” For conservatives, we’d edit that commandment to “Thou shalt not speak ill of another conservative.” Add to that saying, Reagan’s quote “The person who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and an ally—not a 20% traitor.” Senator McCann violated both of these cautions and subsequently upset many who wanted to support him as an alternative to both Rauner and Pritzker. 

However, since then I’ve been giving more thought to our predicament, and I believe we’ve been focusing on the wrong person. The real enemy is Michael Madigan. If you read John Kass’ article on this Gubernatorial race you know, he equates a vote for “Toilets Pritzker” or a Democrat State Representative as “not a vote for that Democratic State representative. It is a vote for Boss Madigan.” Kass also makes the point that many on FaceBook have already made that Sam McCann is a tool of Madigan to split the Republican vote. I don’t know if McCann is a willing tool or not. But I do know that Sam’s attack on Tom Morrison and nine other conservatives has doomed his candidacy, even though he was a long shot in the first place.

Thus, with no one for conservatives to enthusiastically get behind, we need to rethink our strategy. The old proverb comes to mind, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Yes, Rauner is a liar and has betrayed the Conservative Republican base. However, he is not the one who controls Illinois. Michael Madigan does, and he’s the one who has been manipulating the political process like a puppeteer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he weren’t the one who helped orchestrate the timing of HB40 with hopes that Rauner, who was eager to sign such a bill, would sign it and split the base before this election. Madigan has exploited Rauner, McCann and the Conservative movement here in Illinois. He knew we’d form a circular firing squad and be split in our loyalties. I’m tired of being played for a fool, especially when there is so much at stake in this election. 

If JB wins, he will raise taxes. He will kill Illinois job growth. He and Madigan will be in place to gerrymander all the districts in Illinois so that Democrats will control the state for another decade. Unfortunately, Madigan is playing political Chess while we are playing checkers. In a word, he is four to five steps ahead of us. He is looking years beyond this election, which is what we should be doing. We should be tired of being pawns as Madigan seeks to gain even more control of the state.

We had a chance to stop Rauner in the primary but came up short. We now have to lick our wounds and stop Madigan. Rauner will be vulnerable in another four years. Rauner has said he will only seek two terms, and if he goes back on this promise, we can defeat him. The Jeanne Ives campaign demonstrated that Rauner could be beaten in a primary when conservatives join forces.

In the meantime, we must rally our troops to support conservative State Reps, State Senators and Attorney General candidate Erick Harold in this election. Then take a long-term view and stop being so short-sighted. In 2020 we will have many races to contend for with State Reps., State Senators, Congressional seats and U.S. Senate. It will be easier to fight for these offices if Rauner is still Governor and Madigan is strategically held at bay. I know this will be distasteful for many even to imagine doing. But we aren’t the first to have to compromise. 

Similarly, the Founding Fathers compromised with the Southern states by allowing the three-fifths clause, which permitted those states to count only three-fifths of their slaves toward congressional representation. Freed Blacks were counted like other citizens. However, to keep the States together, and ready to defend their fledgling nation they came up with a compromise that actually encouraged the South to free their slaves if they wanted more representation in Congress. But no matter how repulsed the Founding fathers were, and we may be about that compromise in the 21st century, they took a longer view. They understood that Slavery would one day fall under the weight of its own injustice. Frederick Douglass asserted that the three-fifths clause was “a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding states” which ultimately deprived the Southern states of “two-fifths of their natural basis of representation.” Hence, Douglass believed that the compromise checked the power of the South by limiting their Representatives in Congress. The Nation would eventually abolish the importation of slaves in 1807. The Emancipation Proclamation would come in1863. The 13th Amendment abolishing slavery would be ratified in 1865 some 78 years after the signing of the US. Constitution, something the Founding Fathers hoped for but never saw in their lifetime.

What I am trying to say by this example is, that our desire to have a pro-life governor will have to be placed on the back burner for now, but always an objective. Yes, abortion is as repugnant as slavery, but as the Founding Fathers realized you must sometimes have to compromise to get incremental changes to move toward abolishing an unjust institution that had been around for over 100 years before they were even born. In the meantime, we fight to get control of the state, because nothing will change until we do. However, since the Republicans control the Federal House, Senate and White House we can pressure them to, among other things, defund planned parenthood while we continue to promote and support pregnancy clinics across the state. 

I know voting for Rauner is tough for many to swallow and I never thought I’d say this, but I see no other way to stop Michael Madigan. He is a formidable foe and has been laughing at us for decades. It’s time for us to stop drinking the “kool-aide” and to look beyond Rauner’s faults, lack of character, and political savvy. Madigan is playing chess, and we need to stop acting as his pawns. If it helps you when you get to the polls just remember that a vote for Rauner is a vote against Madigan and “toilets Pritzker.” As that saying goes “the enemy of my enemy [may actually be] my friend.”


Rev. Dr. Eric M. Wallace

A private citizen in the state of Illinois

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