An Open Letter to the People of the 63rd District

I’ve received many emails and phone calls from people both in the 63rd District and across Illinois objecting to the Governor’s continued imposition of his March, 2020 disaster declaration and the executive orders which have done so much to disrupt our lives. His unwillingness to consider your concerns by shutting your representatives in the Legislature out of the discussion of how Illinois should combat the COVID crisis shows his mistrust of and complete contempt for the citizens he was elected to serve.

We’re far beyond where we were in 2020. At that time, there was good reason to be as cautious as possible in the face of an unknown threat. But since then there’s been the development of vaccines that have significantly slowed the spread of COVID, hospital admissions have leveled off and while the virus has mutated into several variants, there is every indication that the variants aren’t as deadly as the original virus. We’ve learned that children are more resistant to the virus and that transmission in schools is low.

In spite of all this evidence, the Governor has insisted upon reinstating his first disaster declaration to perpetuate his one-man rule, which may not be an abuse of his legal authority but is certainly a clear abuse of his moral authority. He’s chosen to go it alone, and the rubber-stamp super majorities his party enjoys in both houses are content to sit on the sidelines and let him do so because when election time rolls around, they can deny any responsibility for the carnage. These are the facts of life as they exist in today’s Illinois.

We have to come to terms with the fact that, in some form or another this virus is here to stay and that a never-ending series of disaster declarations is not going to make it go away. In times like these, a true leader works through persuasion, appealing to his constituents through their shared sense of community and responsibility, not only to themselves, but to one another. By persuasion and not decrees, the division and rancor we have today could have been avoided. If the Governor was half the leader he claims to be, he would have made that appeal instead of immediately resorting to force.

J.B. Pritzker squandered the opportunity to bring us together in common cause, having instead set us against one another in what has now become more of a political pandemic than a health crisis. Given how badly he’s mangled this, I doubt there’s anything that could be said to bring us together into some semblance of agreement, but I’ll try.

I’m asking you to take a hard look at where your best interests truly lay. If you think that by getting vaccinated you’re knuckling under to the unreasonable dictates of government, I’m not going to argue with you. What I will tell you is that so long as the Governor holds all the cards, which he does through both Illinois law and the craven submission of his allies in the House and Senate, these crises, both health and political, are not going to end. We won’t be able to do anything about the political crisis until next November, but we can all do our part to put the brakes upon this Governor’s delusional overreach by getting the vaccine. I won’t support a mandate, but I’m appealing to the better angels of your nature, and to what I believe is your own self-interest. Think about it. Please.