The conventions are over. It's now an eight-week sprint to General Election Day. Already, the mailers are landing in our boxes, the ads are airing and the robocallers are burning up the phone lines.
Now is when we wish more of the suburbs, state and nation could be modeled politically to be more like the 10th Congressional District. Spanning parts of Lake and Northwest Cook counties, the 10th District has a history of being full of independents.
How independent? The new 10th District was drawn by Democrats and is said to be one of the most Democratic-leaning districts held by a Republican in the nation. Previous iterations of the 10th in Cook and Lake produced election wins for socially moderate Republicans dating back 34 years.
Because of that history of independence, the candidates, in their early campaign ads, are speaking long-forgotten words more candidates and elected officials should embrace: bipartisanship, compromise, independence, cooperation.
As Daily Herald Staff Writer Russell Lissau reported last week, both incumbent Republican Robert Dold of Kenilworth and Deerfield Democrat Brad Schneider have started airing ads that emphasize their willingness to reach across the aisle.
Dold's ad talks about Americans coming together and of his pledge "to put people before politics and progress before partisanship." Schneider's initial ads show him pledging to work with whomever has a good idea" and noting, "The bickering, the gridlock, it has to stop."
We could not agree more with both men.
This is precisely what we the people need. This is precisely what we challenge candidates up and down the ticket to aspire to, and not simply as effective politicking, but as effective governance.
We also are realists and, sadly, we know the stakes are high in the 10th Congressional District. It is a race of national importance to both major political parties, so we would not be surprised to hear nastier messages from these campaigns or their surrogates in the weeks that remain.
As noted by Ken Redfield, political science professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield, independent groups can spend and say what they wish and it's easy in a direct mail piece to attack, "to put in a lot more red meat."
So, we expect the ads, mail and robocalls in the 10th and everywhere else to get more malicious in the race to Nov. 6. But we pray we are proven wrong. Wouldn't it be something if we had some contests that were about different approaches to fixing our challenges with some details on how to do it?
And wouldn't it be something, even if none of us were totally happy with everything in the end results, if we actually had some compromise and accomplishment on the tough challenges from our Congress and state legislators? You might say we're dreamers. We suspect we're not the only ones.