Unfortunately for Illinois, the political situation is extremely messy, pitting public unions and their pet democratic backers against a mix of GOP lawmakers and reform-minded Democrats who are holding out for tougher terms on pensions. Gridlock perpetuates the status quo. There’s a lot of finger-pointing, but not much is happening to address one of the worst pension crises in the country.

With public-sector unions fighting tooth and nail to preserve their cushy benefits and expensive pension plans, old style Dems like FDR, Harry Truman and Fiorello LaGuardia—all of whom thought that public sector unionism was a terrible idea—are looking smarter and smarter all the time. The combination of collective bargaining and the power of a focused voting lobby and campaign finance machine has unbalanced the budgets of too many cities and states to retain much appeal to the general public.

If the Democrats lose this election, the impact of the clammy embrace of the public sector union movement in the Midwest will be a major factor in the defeat. Defending an unsustainable governance model is no place for a serious political party.