By Ryan Bronaugh
Congressman Phil Hare, Democratic Representative of Illinois’ 17th district, visited the Monmouth College campus this week for a one-on-one interview with the Warren County News wire. Taking time out from a hectic schedule nearing the close of a “toss up” election campaign, Hare discussed the future of Illinois’ district structuring, negative campaign ads, and his efforts to get students and young adults out and voting in this November’s election.
With tight elections come slanderous, often demonizing, campaign ads and this year’s election campaigns have been no exception. All over the country, media in all its forms have been utilized to reach out to voters in the attempts to scare or depress voters, and the election for the seat in the 17th district of Illinois has been no exception. Phil Hare’s first response to the question of why his, and Schilling’s, campaign has chosen to run negative ads was to address that, while this election is the worst he has personally encountered, he has heard from other representatives in other states, that it could be a lot worse. He did add; however, “I’ve been around this business for thirty years, and this is as bad as I’ve seen it.”
Hare first addressed the April 1st campaign ad which featured the Congressman’s statements on The Constitution. He said the statement was taken out of context, and that he was addressing the person, who had just knocked a woman out of her seat in an attempt to get into the congressman’s face and badgering him and the crowd, and not the question on what he thought of the constitution; which he avers he had answered already several times. After he made the statement that, “I don’t worry about the constitution on this,” (speaking of the proposed healthcare reform) and the camera man’s reply of a snickered, “jackpot!” he knew that he had been bullied into a trap, and “the entire thing was an ugly scene.”
Hare maintains that he knows where his financial support comes from, and that his ads are not negative, but designed to bring facts to the surface, and will always be directed to the issues and never designed to harm [Schilling], or his family. He also said that negative campaign ads “are designed to depress voter turnout,” and that the real down fall of them is the message they send to people wanting to get into “this business” when they do are not directed solely at the issues at hand. Hare said that under democracy it is legal to accept help from third party donors and not report it, but the problem with it is, “it promotes the idea that anyone can come in and purchase a seat.” Hare added that people who do these types of acts do not always understand the consequences of their actions.
Hare’s message to Monmouth College students was in regards to financing school. He said he believes that investing in the education of the youth always has a good return investment. He began with by bringing attention to the fact that the party has recently given the Pell Grant its largest raise ever, and that by cutting out the “middle man” they have freed up billions to go into the federal student loan program.
If he is reelected Congressman Hare plans to introduce a bill that will wipe out the debt and interest owed in student loans for students who work for five years in areas of high priority in their given fields. “This is not limited to teaching,” he said. The bill, which Hare said his office is in the middle of scoring right now, would allow students to work in their fields of interests based on a community demand. “Rather than leave the state of Illinois to pursue work elsewhere based on pay, or to take a job in desperation because they know they have student loans to pay off, they will be allowed to work to doing what they like and to free themselves of debt.” He pointed out that the bill will also allow businesses’ to pass cost on.
This Tuesday will mark another election filled with high angst and the possibility of many changes in Washington, and Illinois’ 17th district will be a part of it. Concerning the election campaign Phil Hare said, “As angry as I am, and I am angry, I have nothing bad to say about [Schilling’s] family, or him. I’m here to help you do whatever you want to do, not tell you what to do.”