For right-wingers, the phrase “dirty tactics” is synonymous with the left. There is constant dialogue from conservatives about the “lies” the left tells, and the machinations behind their stated purposes. The general consensus suggests that Democrats do not fight with honor, using their lack of morals to stack the political deck in their own favor; leaving the scrupulous Republicans perpetually one step behind.
Call them dishonorable or morally negligent, there is a reason the left is good at seizing and maintaining political power. That reason doesn’t lie in their objectives, policies, or outcomes; it is a result of their messaging. Many people consider Illinois to be the headquarters of the left, and the state’s politics is a perfect example of the power in effective messaging.
Illinois, despite its many problems, has the one redeeming virtue: its constitution mandates the tax rate remain flat for all taxpayers regardless of income. This predictably upsets many a leftist, so for the last year and a half, there has been a constant fight to amend the constitution and implement a progressive income tax. Amending the constitution requires approval from 60 percent of the legislature and a simple majority vote on the ballot in November.
For a year and a half, the left has tried a graduated tax on all taxpayers, and they’ve been battled by groups like Americans for Prosperity. The Republicans who comprise exactly 40 percent of the House unanimously opposed the proposal, and thanks to substantial pressure from constituents, a few key Democrats committed to oppose it as well.
To no one’s surprise, last Monday, Mike Madigan, the longtime and much despised speaker of the Illinois House, publicly surrendered on the Progressive Income Tax proposal. In its place, he proposed a 3 percent surcharge on all income over $1 million. What the Democrats aren’t talking about is that the proposal will include small businesses filing as individuals.
While a majority of Illinois voters opposed a progressive tax, polling suggests that 60 percent support the new so-called “millionaire tax.” In fact, they support it strongly enough that the Democrats who opposed the progressive tax, like Jack Franks of McHenry County, are now on the fence or openly supporting the new tax proposal.
If the proposal passes in the house and on the ballot, then the constitution will be amended and the legislature can impose new rates on individuals with lower income by a simple majority vote in the legislature. The same purpose is accomplished with a slight delay, and the majority of voters support the proposal.
Simply put, the Democrats are very, very good at messaging their policy. They’re very good at manipulating voters. It is likely that Madigan and his assembly never intended for the proposed progressive income tax to even go to committee, but rather to make the intended “millionaire tax” seem more reasonable. And calling it a millionaire tax is as brilliant as it is misleading – because this tax truly is an entrepreneur tax, punishing small business owners and farmers, and anyone making $1 million in gross income.
This tax proposal will do nothing short of push business and innovation out of Illinois – along with the wealth and jobs they generate. But the left will have to do very little work to push it through to law, all thanks to the attractive messaging they packaged it in.
The right would be wise to learn from the success of the left. If the GOP is tired of perpetually playing catch-up, they need to realize the message they forward is only as good as the package it’s sold in.