In the face of a historic pandemic, social unrest and an economic crisis, the Republican Party in Illinois must unite for the crucial 2022 general election when the offices of governor, U.S. senator, all congressional seats, state executive offices and General Assembly seats will be on the ballot.

To begin a reversal of the economic decline and fiscal disaster that Democratic rule has brought to Illinois, Republicans must return to a core Republican message: peace on our streets, prosperity in our homes and liberty in our lives.

1. Prosperity, prosperity, prosperity! There is nowhere near enough in Illinois and less every month. Democrats seem to believe in bureaucracy as a solution, while Republicans see an expanding economy as a far more powerful force to improve all lives. No positive long-term change in society can occur in Illinois without reversing Democrat hostility toward business, promoting economic expansion and creating new jobs to support families. The Republican platform must center on achieving prosperity for all Illinois residents.

2. Assert a new agenda. The Illinois Republican Party can no longer be one of counterpunches and complaint. Republicans must present a bold and realistic — even if it’s painful — agenda to address our staggering state deficit, our overwhelming pension liability, our declining population, our bone-crushing tax and fee structure and the departure of businesses and jobs to friendlier states. A “Contract with Illinois” is required, stating what the Republican Party proposes to do if given power by the voters. There are talent-filled organizations generating proposals and data, as well as plenty of astute Republicans who can contribute to that agenda.

3. Attack corruption. Michael Madigan’s departure as House speaker, while welcome, did not cure the decayed political culture of Illinois in which elected officials routinely put their personal interests before those of the people. Illinoisans are reaping a bitter harvest from decades of political betrayal by leaders. Long-term change must come from the Republican Party, not federal prosecutors.

4. Fight for votes in Chicago. A full 21% of the Illinois population lives in the city of Chicago. It remains true that for decades no statewide Republican candidate has ever lost with just 20% or more of the Chicago vote. Republicans in Chicago are now building to gain that 20% and win local races. Despite limited resources, the 2020 election showed the potential for Republican growth through sustained effort. Former President Donald Trump’s percentage of the Chicago vote rose by 27% over 2016. His vote in Black-majority wards rose by 64%, and his vote in Hispanic-majority wards rose 44% to more than 19% of the vote. Cook County state’s attorney candidate Pat O’Brien received over 29% of the Chicago vote and won nine wards. Republican support in Chicago is expanding as the Democratic Party shifts left, aging centrist Democrat leaders depart, and the quality of life in our city declines.

5. Talk to industrial unions. If the Republicans are the party of prosperity, that must include the working men and women of this state. Republican union members often complain that much of union membership is conservative, but party leadership will not seek dialogue with unions. In the competitive global economy, prosperity in Illinois must be a team effort.

6. Vocally oppose cancel culture. Our discourse is now dominated by a social theory which recognizes only “oppressors” and “oppressed” with no middle ground or differing opinions allowed. Our youth are being indoctrinated with this destructive mindset in our schools. An example is the “culturally responsive” teaching standard currently proposed by the Illinois State Board of Education, which will force teachers to adopt a curriculum of “progressive viewpoints,” under which teachers must “work actively” in the classroom against “systems of oppression” while promoting “student activism and advocacy” for a progressive agenda. Cancel culture is at root a Marxist-based model, and as with all Marxist theories, pits different groups of people against each other in bitter, unending conflict. Adopting such doctrines in government results in expanding hatred, suppression of speech, economic decline and social disintegration, as we are already seeing in parts of America today. If the Republicans will not stand for civility and freedom, who will?

Steve Boulton


Speaking Republican truth to power in Chicago.