Illinois Pols Refuse Fair Campaign Pledge

Prefer to fight dirty

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    It's so easy, it's like kids stuff.

    It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of Illinois candidates for public office refuse to sign a campaign pledge stating they will fight fair.

    The surprise is that the pledge even exists.

    But there it is on the state Board of Elections website, available for download. Just sign it and send it back.

    After all, who could be against this? 

    "There are basic principles of decency, honesty, and fair play that every candidate for public office in the State of Illinois has a moral obligation to observe and uphold, in order that, after vigorously contested but fairly conducted campaigns, our citizens may exercise
    their constitutional right to a free and untrammeled choice and the will of the people may be  fully and clearly expressed on the issues."

    Right.

    No wonder only a few candidates statewide have signed the pledge.

    "A lot of people simply don't take it seriously," David Morrison of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform told WBEZ. "There are some political insiders who say, Oh, don't sign the code because then you'll just be accused of violating it all the time."

    Here's a novel idea, though: What if candidates actually took the pledge seriously? Just as a lark?

    The seven provisions stated in the document shouldn't be hard to abide by - to limit attacks to the issues; to not engage in slander; to not engage in bigotry; to not lie in campaign materials or impugn an opponent's personal integrity or patriotism; to not engage in unethical practices; to defend the right of every American to vote; and to not allow surrogates to violate these provisions. 

    Sounds simple, doesn't it?

    And yet, Republican John Arrington is the only one of 16 candidates for the U.S. Senate - the United States Senate! - that has signed the pledge. (Five Republican candidates for governor have signed, according to WBEZ.)

    Maybe it's asking too much in Illinois. It's grade-school stuff, but our political system is filled with children.

    Still, it would be nice to see all candidates in at least one major race sign the pledge - and abide by it - as a test case. Can we actually hold an election in which everyone acts like an adult? 

    It shouldn't even take a pledge for that to happen.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.