Winning the “moveable middle” for liberty
How do limited government candidates plan to win this year in the deep-blue state of Illinois?
On July 26th, America’s Future Foundation- Chicago hosted a roundtable event to discuss how liberty-minded candidates are planning to win “moveable middle”candidates this fall. Signs look promising that voters are in a mood to reject candidates who promise ever-larger big-government policies to solve the country’s problems, but principled liberty-minded candidates still need to make the case they should be elected for their principled and effective policy positions, not just change for change’s sake.
Attending the roundtable were candidates for local, statewide, and federal offices in Illinois, including Angel Garcia (GOP candidate for Cook County Clerk), Joel Pollak (GOP candidate for Illinois’s 9th Congressional District), Adam Robinson (GOP candidate for the 7th Illinois Senate District), and Ed Rutledge (Libertarian Party candidate for Illinois Lt. Governor).
Introducing the question, AFF chapter chairman Richard Lorenc read from a recent column by University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein entitled “Government Expands, Trust Deflates.”
“As big government gets still bigger,” Epstein wrote, “the confidence ordinary people have in its institutions grows weaker. That weakness reflects itself not only in a political resentment to the political parties in power. It also manifests itself in their gradual withdrawal from the market, manifested by a greater unwillingness to consume or to invest. With this skeptical mood, each expansionist move of the Obama administration is like feeding sugar to a diabetic. The diffuse nature of our uneasiness cannot be met by a small tweak in this tax subsidy or that statutory grace period. It needs a clear commitment to halt the current lurch toward ever-bigger government. A clear majority of people favors smaller government, even if it does not favor small government. The political powers that ignore that shift in political climate do so at their peril.”
Joel Pollak explained how standing for “limited government” is usually a non-starter for most voters who are only concerned about the effects of government policies, not the theories behind them. A favorite tactic is to ask whether voters are content with the current state of their communities, and then tie that condition to big-government and, particularly, his opponent. Pollak says the question is not whether the voter wants smaller government, but how big-government policies have affected her life, and then how his policies will differ.
Angel Garcia offered an snapshot of how he plans to win moderate Hispanic voters in Cook County. Many of these voters, Garcia said, came to the United States to escape dictatorial regimes of unlimited government. By simply asking them whether they think bigger or smaller government is the answer, he instantly gets a favorable response to his campaign. Garcia also focuses on educating voters on the importance of the Cook County Clerk position, which oversees elections in a county infamous for questionable election processes, another problem many immigrants consciously choose to escape.
Libertarian Party candidate for Lt. Governor Ed Rutledge spoke about how different campaign messages resonate “downstate” versus in Chicagoland. While discussion about federal government overreach–particularly in regard to the new health insurance mandate–works outside of Chicago, he takes a different approach in and around the city, asking whether swing voters believe government policies are working to improve their lives or hinder them (and whether many policies should be government policies at all).
Adam Robinson–whose state Senate district is one of the bluest in Illinois–spoke about asking voters whether they believe they are getting a good product from their state government following eight years of one-party rule. Instead of talking about “conservative” principles, Robinson asks voters whether they approve of policies on which they had little input, like, for example, the plan to pave the lakefront area adjacent to many of their homes. He also chooses to focus on fiscal issues–the most urgently pressing issues in the state–and finds once he neutralizes the notion of Republicans as uniformly socially conservative, voters find a whole new world of political opportunities and candidates available among which they can choose.
AFF- Chicago hosts events about every six weeks, so sign up for our newsletter (Room 101 Chicago) to learn about the next fun and informative gathering.
We’re pleased to announce our cosponsorship of a luncheon on July 30th in honor of Dr. Milton Friedman. Celebrate freedom by sharing in Dr. Friedman’s legacy.
When: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 30, 2010
Who: Supporters, friends, and allies of The Heartland Institute
Where: Petterino’s, 150 N. Dearborn, Chicago
Price: $25, includes tax and gratuity.
RSVP: Call Tonya Houston at The Heartland Institute (312-377-4000, ext. 115) or pay with a credit card or your PayPal account online.
Our featured speaker will be Dr. Richard H. Timberlake Jr., a former student of Dr. Friedman at the University of Chicago. Dr. Timberlake is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Georgia. Dr. Timberlake has chafed at what he considers misrepresentations by some Federal Reserve policymakers of Dr. Friedman’s views to justify wholesale intrusion into the U.S. economy. Join us to hear more.