Why Did Home Rule Issue Fail?

Apr 16, 2018

Rockfordians recently rejected Home Rule for two distinct, yet related, reasons.

First, there was a lack of trust. A "yes" vote required a profession of faith that officials would not misuse or exceed the authority granted. That faith, evidently, did not exist.

This should not have been surprising. Almost all regional referenda failed‎. Citizens voted instead to consolidate government offices and restrain taxes. This, in turn, should not have been surprising.

By every measure available, it is disturbingly evident that Americans have almost never felt and expressed such distrust, nay contempt, for government. We live in a deeply hostile environment for any request that citizens trust governmental officials.

The referendum failed for a second, even more disturbing, reason. In precincts populated by wealthier, more successful citizens, the referendum generally polled well. That vote was more than offset by the negative response from lower-income, working-class neighborhoods.

Rockford remains to some degree both a divided and struggling city. It is divided between citizens who are "doing well" and those who are still struggling to find their way to prosperity.  These fellow citizens apparently did not believe that, under current conditions, they could take a chance on the referendum.

To citizens who view themselves as living on the margin, a request that they risk some of their limited resources is a daunting risk to take.

I'm Bob Evans, and that is my perspective.