This Fourth of July, Americans have a special reason to celebrate the spirit of liberty and independence. With fireworks bursting in air and American flags flying and our neighborhoods dressed out in festive red, white and blue, we proudly mark the 241st birthday of our republic.
Unfortunately, like the original colonies, we in Illinois have been living under the dark clouds of political tyranny. Our political leaders have subjected us and future generations to crushing budget deficits and crippling unfunded pension obligations that devastated bond ratings to the point of junk status and threatened the state’s solvency. Ignoring the urgency of our economic plight, lawmakers in the General Assembly continue to dawdle and dither, doing absolutely nothing, while our beloved Land of Lincoln spirals downward toward economic calamity.
It doesn’t matter what judgments you have made about who or what’s at fault: Speaker Madigan’s unprecedented power and refusal to move a reasonable proposal forward? The Democratic Party’s strangle-hold on the General Assembly, the one-party rule that continues to tax and spend us into poverty? Or Governor Rauner and the Republicans’ intransigence and refusal to knuckle under to Madigan’s dictatorial rule?
Stop the blame game, already. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHOSE FAULT IT IS, IT’S TIME FOR ACTION!
The People of Illinois need to seize on the spirit of Independence Day 2017 to declare our own independence from the forces of political tyranny we have allowed to take command of our ship of state. We need our very own Illinois Declaration of Independence from the forces of political tyranny and corruption that have usurped good government in our state. It could be modeled after the magnificent document that we celebrate on the Fourth of July, which marked the birth of our great Nation. Like the magnificent document drafted in 1776, the “Illinois Declaration of Independence” would solemnly declare the steadfast and collective commitment of all Illinoisans to be forever free in a document something like this:
“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to unite against the forces of evil, to throw off the shackles of dictatorship, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the peace, tranquility, and freedom from fear to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitled them.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that no brutal, tyrannical dictator like Speaker Michael Madigan or President Cullerton will ever again take away our unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
“The history of Mr. Madigan, and his sycophant cronies, and all who gave them comfort and shelter, Democrats and Republicans alike, is a history of repeated and outrageous attacks on the People of Illinois and the civilized world. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
“They have conspired to oppress our State’s citizens through unconscionable tax increases that kill economic development.
“They have repeatedly doled out lavish pensions to themselves and all other state employees and failed to fully fund those pensions, thus jeopardizing our State’s bond ratings.
“They have repeatedly granted tax breaks to corporations and special interests to keep them from relocating to other states, while the general economic business climate in the state continues to get worse and worse.
“They have repeatedly tried and failed to reform our worker compensation laws that continue to drive companies out of our state because the laws are among the most punitive to business in the nation.
“They have repeatedly failed to pass tough anti-corruption legislation and have refused to pass meaningful campaign finance reform. They continue to protect their own… and their own campaign war-chests that are overflowing with cash from special interests with special payback in mind.
“In every stage of these shameless acts of political tyranny, the people of Illinois have acted with admirable restraint (one might even say equally shameless APATHY), and have diligently sought to bring the perpetrators to justice (as in the historic cases of those disgraced felons Governors Ryan and Blagojevich), while ensuring their entitlement to due process of law.
“Nor have we Illinoisans been wanting in repeating entreaties and warnings that further repression will not be tolerated, but will be dealt with harshly.
“We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which marks this Declaration, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies of the State of Illinois, who must be removed from office and held accountable for every political malfeasance and misfeasance and negligence in the performance of legislative duty.
“We, therefore, as citizens of the State of Illinois, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the Authority of the Good People of our Proud State, solemnly publish and declare, that the State of Illinois shall be, and of Right ought to be, Free of further political tyranny and governmental incompetence.
“And for support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence (and the hope for a landslide election sweeping the bums out of office in 2018), we mutually pledge to each other Our Lives (whether we live here or move to another state), Our Fortunes (including the financial welfare of our children and grandchildren), and Our Sacred Honor (I swear we can do better!) in pursuit of these objectives.”
(Mr. Skoning is a Chicago lawyer)