By Pat Hughes

If you are watching basketball and the play is constantly at one end of the court, you have a pretty good guess who’s winning, right? (HINT: not the team that’s spending all its time defending). The same thing goes for hockey, soccer, football…and politics.

Constantly playing defense instead of offense is one of the biggest mistakes those who advocate reform focused policies in Illinois make. We frequently see candidates, legislators and activists spend their time defending against attacks, trying to justify to the public why their views aren’t wrong, rather than going on offense against their opponents and forcing them to explain the many ways in which they are out of touch with the average Illinois family or business.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that birth control measures can be excluded from employer-provided prescription drug coverage if such coverage is in opposition to the employer’s religious beliefs. The ruling was a hit to the political establishment’s push for a centralized healthcare system.

What did the “Never-Let-a-Crisis-Go-to-Waste-Illinois-Ruling-Class” do? They went on offense. Led by Gov. Quinn, they signed a November ballot question asking voters if they think prescription drug coverage plans should be required to include birth control.

You see, in a state that is inefficient and insolvent, the political establishment cannot win an election on their merits. Their policies have put the state on the fast track to economic ruin. Without the smoke and mirrors of politics and propaganda, a large margin of the ruling class would be properly voted out of public office.

But, no one knows how to stay on offense like Illinois’ political establishment. The addition of the birth control advisory to the November 2014 ballot is just another cunning play in their game of power. The recent Fair Maps ruling, the enactment of HB 105, a law that essentially creates a “turn out the vote” drive for those who defend the status quo, along with numerous other advisory questions added to the ballot to drive dependable voting blocs (i.e., birth control = women, etc.) make it difficult to see this past legislative session as anything other than an incumbency protection scheme played out on taxpayer time.

If reform-focused candidates and legislators want to claim that they are fighting for the taxpayers, families or businesses of Illinois, they have to go on offense. Our defense of a free-market position might be rock solid, but it still won’t work. When we spend the majority of our time defending, just like in sports, we can lose ground and never gain any.

What we need next is candidates and other activists to take it a step further and reveal both the ways in which the ruling class’ policies have hurt Illinois, and the fact the free market reforms they endorse will work for Illinois.

In most legislative races, reform-minded challengers and activists have a serious opportunity in running against incumbents who have been outspoken supporters of the status quo.

The state’s current condition is pathetic. Challengers should hammer incumbents for it; then present the free-market vision and the evidence of it working just miles in any direction over the Illinois border… over and over again.

In other words, play to win.

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