SPRINGFIELD – Usually, professional politicians view taking a position on an issue as a means to getting elected – not a reason to get elected.
In other words, they ask themselves, “What can I say – or not say – to please enough voters to win an election?” But what they ought to be asking themselves is, “What are my core beliefs and how can I persuade voters of the rightness of my cause?”
That’s why so often our elected officials end up being followers rather than leaders.
It’s one of the most annoying things about Springfield: the politician with the whetted finger in the air trying to discern which way the political winds are blowing.
In such cases, voters find themselves not voting for a set of principles but for a candidate who is nothing more than an amalgamation of political calculations.
But what’s even sadder is that politicians often refuse to take a stand on an issue.
For example, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin have passed forms of Right to Work legislation in recent years, and Missouri and Kentucky are considering moves in that direction.
It is possible Illinois will become an island of forced unionism in a sea of Right to Work states.
If that happens, there will be enormous economic consequences.
Voters deserve to know not just what a candidate says he will do, but what he believes. After all, political environments change and a bill that would never pass now may stand a fighting chance down the road.
If a candidate has stated a position early on, he can say “the voters knew this when they elected me, and I have a mandate for change when the opportunity presents itself.”
For the record, Gov. Pat Quinn opposes Right to Work laws.
Three of the four Republicans running for governor wouldn’t commit to a position.
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard all said the political reality in Illinois is such that it would be impossible to pass a Right to Work law in Illinois.
But don’t voters deserve to be fully informed about how he and the other candidates stand before they enter voting booths?
Instead, we have politicians dodging questions.
Voters deserve better.
• Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse reporter.