Editorial: Pritzker must rally support behind pandemic plan

  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives one of his daily updates on the coronavirus outbreak.

    Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives one of his daily updates on the coronavirus outbreak. Associated Press File Photo

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 5/18/2020 10:11 AM

Living and working as we do in Chicago's suburbs, as you do, we are sympathetic to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's emergency directive and to the state's conservative economic reopening plan.

The Chicago metropolitan area is a hotbed of the novel coronavirus -- one of the worst in the nation, in fact -- and we have as much at risk as anyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

By the same token, it is clear that the public's resolve is beginning to splinter in the face of long-term isolation, widespread unemployment and deepening threats to livelihoods small and large.

Is this splintering being exploited by cynical political factions? No doubt, to some degree. This is the nature of cynical political factions, even when universal public interests are at stake.

But the growing unease cannot be attributed solely to that.

The Northwest Municipal Conference has expressed reservations. The Naperville Park District has filed suit. DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties want revisions to Pritzker's plan.

These are not all populists and reactionaries. They don't all come with political axes to grind.

They reflect a growing unease, whether legitimate or not.

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There is a real concern among the people, not just about their health but also about their way of life. This is a natural concern, a human concern, and it needs to be addressed a little less with lectures and a little more with empathy.

All and all, we think the governor has done an admirable job of confronting the enormous threat of a worldwide pandemic, the greatest challenge Pritzker and our generation have ever confronted.

He has been proactive, on point, up front, unrelenting, unafraid and unabashedly organized. He recognized early on the magnitude of the peril we face. His response no doubt has saved lives and heartache.

But as the governor, his role must go beyond rule setting and policy execution. His duty, more on this issue than any other he's ever faced, is to rally the public behind him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Our response to the pandemic cannot be effective without public support. The governor's response cannot be effective without it. The public health depends on it.

We know. Easier said than done.

But that's the mission. That's the job that must be done.

We recognize the governor must, at times at least, grow weary from the apparent thanklessness of his endless burden. But now is not the time to shrink from history's call.

This Wednesday, the General Assembly returns to Springfield under unique and consequential circumstances.

A place to start, in this quest to rally the public, is with legislative ratification of his emergency decree and his reopening plan. To rally the public, the place to start is by rallying the public's representatives.

This is no small task. But then, Pritzker ran for office to do, as he said, big things. None are bigger than this.

We wish him well in the endeavor.

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