Tags: Welcome | Illinois | the | 'Vermont | the | Midwest'

Welcome to Illinois, the 'Vermont of the Midwest'

Wednesday, 06 November 2002 12:00 AM

Somewhere in the faint distance I could hear voices calling my name. The fog that had settled into my brain had sucked all the life out of my concentration. For the past two hours I had been sitting glued to the TV watching returns of our local Illinois races.

"Kevin … hey, Kevin. Yo, Kev," the voice cut through the fog that seemed to fill the space I was in. It was the voice of Steve Binder, the campaign press secretary for Illinois candidate for attorney general Joe Birkett. "Kev, Joe's getting his comments together and he's about to head down; you might want to head on and get a good spot."

For much of the evening I had sat like a fly on the wall of the Birkett War Room. The numbers had been coming in and in recent minutes it looked like a spark had lit momentarily. With the Cook County numbers always being reported first, the numbers for Democrats and Liberals usually jump out to huge leads.

The interesting part about election returns in Illinois is that the downstate numbers always come in last. And as they do, generally they have benefited more traditional family candidates. This night would prove no exception.

But the numbers were not what they needed to be for Birkett or candidate for governor Jim Ryan. In the end, if pro-family voters saw only the results in Illinois, they would be endlessly discouraged.

To the office of governor we elected perhaps the most pro-Clinton congressman ever – based almost solely on his voting record. To replace him in Congress we elected a former Clinton Cabinet member. To our attorney general's seat we elected the most unqualified candidate to ever run for the office, but thanks to her political Sugar Daddy (her actual father), she had the money almost 4 to 1 over her opponent – Birkett.

Mr. Birkett was everything in his concession that he has been as an elected state's attorney: kind, honest and full of character. Repeatedly in the War Room last night, when the media would be crowding him and his wife for yet another interview, they would try to get him to "go for the kill" and he refrained.

Moments before he headed down to give the hardest political speech of his career, a supporter stopped by and wanted him to pray with her. He did. The affection he has for his wife and children was obvious throughout the night as a hug, a pat on the back, a word of encouragement was always quick to be had.

Pro-family voters lost badly in Illinois. The days ahead for our state look scary. Rod Blagojevich, our new governor-elect, is on record as supporting homosexual civil unions. Lisa Madigan, whose own somewhat suspect engagement looms, has promised to go after Crisis Pregnancy Centers. She calls them "phony" because they don't offer abortions.

So, in a state where never-before-seen public corruption has garnered headlines for the last two years, she will devote instead "the full power of her office of Attorney General" to "shut down" these clinics, funded by voluntary contributions, that try to help girls keep their babies or give them up for adoption.

But that is only the beginning.

If Blagojevich intends to keep all the promises he made over the course of his campaign, additional spending for our state will run close to $11 billion, by some estimates. Couple that new spending with the projected $2 billion shortfall we already have, and the idea that Illinois citizens won't be paying significantly higher taxes very soon is ludicrous.

I went home, completely discouraged by the results of the evening (though more impressed than ever with Joe Birkett). I crawled into bed and fell asleep, praying that it had all been a really bad dream and perhaps if I woke up in the morning it would be different.

Well, it kind of was.

All across America – just not in the new "Vermont of the Midwest" – pro-family voters got out and voted, electing really fine men and women to the U.S. Senate and giving the president the legislative mandate now that so many felt he did not have in the year 2000. Finally, justices will be voted on. Homeland Security will be taken seriously. And the real answer to our nation's sluggish economy can now be enacted.

As I celebrated this morning, I was thankful, that men like Norm Coleman, Jim Talent, Saxby Chambliss and a fine woman, Elizabeth Dole, have now been employed to help restore the values that the American people believe in to the places they need be – our nation's highest leadership.

I have never quite understood Charles Dickens' famous words, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Today I think I do just a little, though I can barely stomach what we will face here in Illinois for the next four years.

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Somewhere in the faint distance I could hear voices calling my name. The fog that had settled into my brain had sucked all the life out of my concentration. For the past two hours I had been sitting glued to the TV watching returns of our local Illinois races. Kevin …...
Wednesday, 06 November 2002 12:00 AM
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