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National Politics-Style Vitriol Has Filtered Into Illinois Budget Crisis Rhetoric

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 6, 2017 8:55PM

An unusually nasty war of words has developed around the looming House vote on a state budget in Illinois, with supporters of Gov. Bruce Rauner and opponents lobbing jabs, insults, and more in statements, on social media, and in press conferences.

His detractors oppose his plans to veto a tax increase which could keep the state from falling into junk bond status. The Illinois House was even forced to delay its vote due to a hazmat situation early Thursday afternoon, after a person allegedly threw an unidentified white powdery substance at the governor’s office. Officials later said the substance tested negative.

Billionaire gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel were the latest two in a long line of people to throw shade at the governor and others objecting to the tax increase, citing the fire of rhetoric that continues to grow larger as the House inches closer to a vote.

“With no real accomplishments and a record of creating devastation, Bruce Rauner is desperately resorting to the Donald Trump playbook of preying on people’s fear and anger,” said Pritzker campaign spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh in a statement emailed to Chicagoist. “This is the lowest form of politics and entirely unbecoming of our state’s highest office. It is evidence of a governor who has failed on every level. Bruce Rauner can continue hiding behind Trumpist tactics of inciting violence and gas-lighting the public, but it won’t change the fact that he has unleashed long term damage on Illinois.”

Emanuel too, called out Rauner, according to WLS’s Bill Cameron.

Both Pritzker and Emanuel’s statements come after Rauner called the tax increase he vetoed “not just a slap in the face...but a two-by-four smacked across the forehead” and said he would do “everything possible” to stop a veto.

Meanwhile, the conservative leaning Illinois Policy Institute—which Rauner once donated more than $500,000 to prior to running for governor—has been in a bitter Twitter battle over comments left on its Facebook page published by Capitol Fax after the group called for its fans to be respectful when contacting lawmakers. Among the more than 1,500 comments include calls to “water the tree of liberty,” for lynch mobs, and other threats of violence towards lawmakers.

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy also made a bland call for ratcheting down the rhetoric, saying in a statement:

“We have seen an increase in violent political rhetoric both in Washington and Illinois. That type of rhetoric has no place in the political discourse. We can disagree with one another on policy and politics without resorting to violence or political rhetoric that encourages violence. We should have vigorous debate, discussion and disagreements, but it should never veer towards violence ever.”

It’s unsurprising that this level of vitriol in politics has finally made its way to the Illinois budget crisis. It was only a matter of time before the angry rhetoric that entered the mainstream on the national stage in the 2016 election filtered down to state politics, especially given how the budget impasse came much earlier. And while calls for civility might certainly be warranted, that civility doesn’t seem like it will extend very far, given that opposing parties, which have spent the past three years blaming each other for the crisis, are more than likely not going to give much of an inch on their positions.