Foolishness and tomfoolery go hand in hand with self-government, but they are not vote-getting tactics.
Politics and government can be an ugly business, one reason being that it’s partly show business.
Elected officials like to score theatrical points against the opposition, and they sometimes engage in unseemly, even self-defeating tactics to do so.
Last weekend’s brief legislative session, highlighted by the General Assembly’s adoption of a 2020-21 budget that has a $6 billion deficit, featured two examples.
State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, decided that he would violate a coronavirus-related rule by refusing to wear a face mask during a House session.
For that, he was expelled from the House on a bipartisan vote.
Bailey’s display was followed by Rep. Allen Skillhorn, R-Crystal Lake. He’s decided to lead a campaign to recall Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Skillhorn’s effort is as futile as Bailey’s display.
Just as Bailey’s protest went nowhere, Skillhorn’s recall is going nowhere.
Their unhappiness with the political status quo in Illinois is understandable. They are conservative Republicans who find themselves helpless in the face of a state government controlled by liberal Democrats.
But Gov. J.B. Pritzker and supermajority Democrats in the House and Senate didn’t seize power by force. They were elected.
If Republicans like Bailey and Skillhorn want to be part of a GOP majority someday, then they, too, must be elected.
They won’t get to where they want to go by engaging in intemperate, pointless displays or doomed campaigns that raise questions about their judgment.
Wearing a face mask was one of the prices of admission to the House last week. Bailey objects to the length and breadth of Pritzker’s economic lockdown, and so do a lot of other people. But objecting to lockdown rules is much different than violating House rules in a way that reflected pointless anger, not reason.
Perhaps that’s why Bailey returned the next day and wore a mask.
As for Skillhorn, his recall campaign is going nowhere because, aside from the clear lack of merit to the idea, Illinois does not have a credible recall process.
Recall exists on paper. But Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan put so many restrictions on the process — from signature gathering to legislative action to put the issue on the ballot — that it is a virtual impossibility.
That’s why Skillhorn’s purported recall campaign is the equivalent of Bailey’s refusal to wear a mask — empty symbolism that doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of people.
They are, of course, free to engage in as many political sideshows as they wish, After all, they were elected, too.
While voters may be amused by their decisions to tilt at windmills, it’s hard to imagine many of them are impressed.
Governing a state as deeply troubled as Illinois is serious business. If these legislators wish to be taken seriously by people beyond their legislative districts, they need to bear that in mind.