Not that they show much concern over possible consequences, but state public officials have fouled their own nest.
In addition to running for governor, Republican Bruce Rauner is backing a state constitutional amendment that would impose term limits on legislators.
The chief executive for the Illinois State Board of Elections said last week that he expects term-limit supporters to file by May 5 the necessary petitions to put the issue on the ballot. If that happens, the state's long-serving legislative leaders would feel compelled to challenge the validity of the petition signatures or persuade a judge to bar the issue from the fall ballot.
Term-limits opponents better hope they win on the procedural issues because a recent poll released by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale shows strong public support for the concept.
Nearly 80 percent of the respondents indicated that they either strongly supported or somewhat supported the idea of limiting members of the Illinois House and Senate to eight years of service. Roughly 17 percent of respondents said they either were strongly or somewhat opposed to the idea.
The poll of 1,001 registered voters was conducted from Feb. 12-25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 points.
Like another recent poll conducted by the Simon institute — one that shows an astronomical level of public suspicion about corruption at all levels of government — the term-limits poll reveals just how unhappy the people of Illinois are with their elected officials and political institutions.
It's no secret that the average citizen does not, as a general proposition, think too highly of the political class. But the level of voter animosity in Illinois is both toxic and, unfortunately, amply justified.
David Yepsen, director of the institute, speculated that one reason voters overwhelmingly favor term limits is that they're angry over gerrymandered districts that leave incumbent legislators — Democrat and Republican — beyond the reach of voters.
Yepsen said that if the term-limits proposal makes it on the ballot "it should be easy for (proponents) to win approval."
Terms limits are a blunt instrument — kind of like hitting a mule over the head with a 2-by-4 to get its attention. There are better ways of getting the job done. But government in Illinois is beyond irritating, and voters would love to have the opportunity to retaliate.
Will anyone in Springfield get the message?