News broke earlier today that Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) from the 18th district, will be stepping down from office. Stories have circulated for some time of various ethics violations, and his questionable spending of taxpayer and campaign donation money. Reports indicate that he will formally leave office on March 31st.
Here at Illinois Conservatives, we take no pride nor do we rejoice that yet another elected official is leaving public office because of civil or criminal improprieties. This, alone, is not a partisan issue: Illinois has become the laughingstock of the entire country, and even the world. “Chicago” as a term now broadly encompasses our state as a place of corruption, shadiness, and elected officials taking advantage of the office and the integrity it holds while hurting the taxpayers they were elected to represent. With Congressman Schock as the latest example, even 33 year old, youthful congressmen can be just as detrimental to recklessly spending our tax dollars as 50, 60 year olds who have served 2 decades or longer in office.
This is a sad day for Illinoisans, and although we surely aren’t new to being let down by our elected officials, this hurts many that (naively) believed that sending young faces to D.C. would suddenly shake up the old business in our nation’s capital. We could say the people of the 18th congressional district deserve better, but then they knew that already. It was hard to find a candidate with the strength, both mentally and financially, to primary an incumbent who is backed by powerful interests in and outside the district. Citizens were left with little to do, either run up a candidate who will offer nothing more than “symbolic opposition”, hold their nose and continue voting for Schock, or just not vote at all and lose more hope in that they will have responsible elected officials in office.
We can imagine today’s announcement was rather bittersweet for those in the 18th district, that although they will no longer have Aaron Schock as their congressman and that they may now have a representative who will better serve them, losing a representative in such a way is both embarrassing and tragic. However, we hope with such an event like this occurring allows those in the 18th a new opportunity, that whomever is chosen to replace Schock’s seat, that the voters hold their representative’s feet to the fire. And if the replacement chosen is no better than Schock in representing the district, the likelihood of rallying behind an opposition candidate is better.