Steve Chapman: Illinois and the Dangers of Democratic Rule


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With Halloween approaching, the way to scare small children is to conjure up specters of witches and ghosts. Terrifying economists is easier: Just say, "Illinois."

It's been suggested that North Korea and Cuba be preserved in their present form as museums documenting the folly of communism. By that logic, Republicans might want to lose the governor's race in Illinois so it can go on illustrating the dangers of untrammeled Democratic rule.

On one side is the incumbent Quinn, an affable Springfield fixture who made his name as a reformer and gadfly, only to become governor when Rod Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office before going to prison. On the other is Bruce Rauner, a private equity magnate who has never run for office before but touts business expertise that produced a net worth he figures at "hundreds of millions of dollars."

Detractors portray Rauner as a charmless bully who doesn't understand the give-and-take of governing. But if a pleasant personality and political savvy were invaluable traits for this office, experts would be flocking to Illinois to learn the secrets to efficient government and economic prosperity, writes Steve Chapman.

They aren't, and no wonder.