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It’s Time for Legislative Courage
by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
Legislative courage seems to be a substance in shortage in today’s world. To say I’m disappointed, disgusted and disheartened is an understatement. And I don’t blame one party or the other, I blame our elected officials as a whole.
In case you live under a rock, Illinois is entering its second year without a balanced budget! Actually, it’s been longer than that since the budget was balanced and just two years without a passed budget of any kind. And as of the end of June, Congress won’t vote, up or down, gun control measures that make sense with minimal changes. They won’t even vote on the issue!
So what’s behind this lack of courage at the State and federal level, by both Democrats and Republicans? It’s not the fear of making a mistake. Every day that they fail to act one way or another is a mistake. It’s not for lack of understanding how the Illinois or American people feel, we’ve been calling for action for months on both issues. It’s the fear of not being re-elected! But with no actions or inadequate actions, why would we consider re-electing them anyway?
Maybe because we have no choice in many cases. For example, in my districts, there is no democratic challenger for Congress, Illinois Senate or Illinois House. Yes, I guess I live in a Republican district! But there are even more Democratic districts in Illinois as you can see from the current General Assembly make up. According to the www.ballotpedia.org website, we find that in Illinois this year, 91.1% of the State offices have incumbent candidates! In addition, in the primary election this past spring, 88% of the incumbents did not face a challenger, and 67% of the fall general elections will not even be contested by a second party candidate (Democrat won’t have a Republican challenger or vice versa). So in many cases, a majority of them, voters will not have a choice at all.
There are no pharmacists, physicians or nurses in the Illinois General Assembly at this time. I’m not aware of any on the ballot this year, but I haven’t looked long and hard yet. Would physicians or nurses be helpful to our causes? It’s hard to tell, but I suspect they wouldn’t be any worse than the current crew we have now.
This summer each of us has an opportunity to speak with our current elected leaders, and I’m sure there will be a wealth of fund-raising events to obtain access, but you have to take the time and spend the dime, or in most cases spend anywhere from $25 to $500 for that access. It’s time to let them know if you are as disappointed with them as I am, but you’ll have to do it with tact and finesse because chances are they will be re-elected since so many are without opponents.
Don’t pass up a chance to let them know you’re out there and make sure they know what you need as a pharmacist, pharmacy technician or pharmacy student from the State and from their office. Encourage them to take action and be honest about whether you support tax increases, program cuts or both. The current General Assembly is out of touch because people have given up. But a rise of voices from a broad variety of constituencies can wake them up and give them a reason to start taking action – action that helps the State. Action that will probably be felt by all constituencies to some extent, but no improvement is going to occur without some pain by everyone. The State of Illinois is in horrible shape, the US is not far behind, and it is all because of political gridlock and inaction! But if you don’t begin talking to your elected leaders, you can’t complain if things get worse. It’s time for all of us to have legislative courage!