By Pat Hughes Heading into a general election that promises to be political blood sport, State Representatives Kate Cloonen (D-Kankakee) and Mike Smiddy (D-Port Byron) gave Illinoisans a clear understanding of what they have been getting for the past two years and what they will be getting if these two are re-elected in November. In one picture, Cloonen and Smiddy demonstrated to the officeholders and newspapers who endorse them exactly what they’d have to explain and rationalize for another two years. In one picture, they reminded families and businesses that they, in fact, do not share the view that the state is at a crisis point. They don’t feel your pain. And, they are not interested in advancing policy solutions to help make your life better. In one picture, Cloonen and Smiddy made it clear that all of their supporters will be spending the next two years doing exactly what they have done for the past two years: defending failed ideas and incompetent politicians. Last week, Representatives Cloonen and Smiddy were caught on camera playing Candy Crush on the floor of the Illinois House during a budget debate. There are some who will claim that those of us who criticize Cloonen and Smiddy are just making political hay over a single moment of boredom on the House Floor. Before you count yourself among them, consider some of the events that have taken place on the House floor during the tenure of these two gamers:
  • Mike Madigan – a man who just 20 percent of Illinoisans view favorably – has been re-elected House Speaker twice on a straight party-line vote.
  • Irresponsible budgets – billions of dollars out of balance – have been sent to the Governor’s desk.
  • Numerous mandates have been placed on businesses, the costs of which are passed on to families and individuals in the form of price increases (HB 922, HB 923, HB 3619, HB 3655, HB 3761).
  • Educational Opportunity has been diminished and devalued (HB 3937, HB 5397, HB 397, HB 1369).
  • And, in perhaps the most honest demonstration of their values, Illinois Democrats voted to fund their own salaries in the event of a Government Shutdown. Meanwhile, state workers would see their own salaries slashed or experience layoffs (SB 274).
Vigilance is demanded. Critical thought is necessary. Courage and principle have never been more important. And, yet Cloonen and Smiddy could scarcely be bothered to look up from their I-Phones during debate. The photo did not capture an “off-moment.” The photo captured the quintessential Illinois Democrat: uninterested, uninformed and out-of-touch. They don’t have to pay attention to debate in order to inform their vote. All they have to do is vote the way party bosses tell them to vote. For this, they will be guaranteed generous campaign funding from public sector unions, trial lawyers, and Speaker Madigan and his cronies. That’s what they do. That’s who they are. The people of Illinois are struggling. We have the highest unemployment rate in the Midwest. We have the second highest property taxes in the nation. Families are being driven out of their homes by a skyrocketing cost of living. We have an unfunded pension liability so large that it can never be funded. We have the lowest credit rating in the nation. Social service organizations have had to close their doors because Democrats would rather play games – literally – than pass a responsible balanced budget. And if nothing changes by November, those who support Cloonen, Smiddy and their colleagues will have doomed Illinoisans to more of the same – or worse. However, we can break free. We can insist that politicians work for us. And we can reject them when they don’t. That’s what we do. That’s who we are. Democracy doesn’t thrive under the thumb of kept politicians, entrenched special interests and political monopolies. Democracy thrives on innovation, talent and competition. We have the power to end the reign of the Chicago Machine and cut ties with Speaker Madigan and his seat-warmers once and for all. On November 8, let’s send Kate Cloonen and Mike Smiddy a message they will understand: Game Over.   
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