A labored look for someone to lead

Friday, September 03, 2010

As we head into the homestretch of the campaign season this Labor Day weekend, to say we are disappointed in the discourse of the governor's campaign would be an understatement.

Surprised? No. Dismayed? Absolutely.

We focus here primarily on the two major party candidates for governor, Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn and Republican Bill Brady. Other independent and third-party candidates also are running. Let us not be the last to note that we, and many voters. may be examining those other candidates more than ever before.

Why? We're dismayed because neither candidate really has addressed in any detail the top three problems this state faces: mounting pension debt, a massive budget deficit and chronic unemployment. Sometimes the candidates sound like they're talking about those gargantuan problems, but then they merely skim the surface with generalities and stock, stale bromides.

Quinn has cut the state budget some, but hardly has provided any specifics of what he cut. Brady promises a 10 percent across-the-board cut, but refuses to say more. He talks about jobs and business tax cuts. Recently, he had to admit those tax cuts would add significantly to the state's already caustic $13 billion budget deficit.

Neither candidate has offered a substantive plan to guide us out of this mess. Quinn's election promises a post-election tax hike at a time when many Illinoisans can ill afford it. We don't rule out the possibility that tax or fee increases may be part of a solution, but the problem remains the two men who would lead us refuse to reveal any specific, comprehensive plans to do so.

Instead, Quinn now airs an ad that seeks to demonize Brady because he does not support an assault weapons ban, a second-tier concern at best. Brady has an ad that suggests he's somehow going to create jobs and a rosy Illinois, but we took the rose-colored glasses off long ago.

Eight weeks remain until the Nov. 2 election. Now is when most residents will start to pay attention. We call on Brady and Quinn to be better than they've been. To return us to hope and substance. To civil debate and detailed discourse on resolving our money crises.

We need Quinn to demonstrate some discipline and detail he will commit to rather than a new idea for every question he faces. We need Brady to show he has specifics and will share them. We need both men to demonstrate they realize there is leading to be done beyond Election Day. We need both men to show they know they seek to govern all of us, rather than the fringe left or the fringe right. This campaign cannot be consumed by social policy, attacks or sound bites. It must be composed of honest details about pensions, budgets and jobs.

We've had our share of electing bad governors. Now we seek a statesman. Will one of you rise to meet that challenge?