Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Time to vote, unless you already have

It’s Election Day; and it’s time for everybody to do their civic duty and get off our collective duff to decide who will head our governments for the next four years.

Admittedly, things have changed in recent years so that many people already have cast their ballots – early voting and vote-by-mail and all. Cook County officials said Monday that pre-election voting was 53 percent higher than the 2010 election cycle -- with 12 percent of the registered voters and 23.5 percent of the number who bothered to vote overall the last time "governor" was on the ballot having already cast ballots.

SO MUCH FOR the goal that Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner was hoping for that Chicago-area people wouldn’t care as much about this election, so that his rest-of-the-state opposition to Chicago would be sufficient for him to win the election.

He may still do so. Because other counties with interests in doing harm to Gov. Pat Quinn's re-election dreams also are showing high early voting rates.

But it's going to be very tough for Rauner to overcome the fact that Quinn does appear to have convinced many, many Chicago and inner-suburban voters of his campaign theme that Rauner is an uncaring rich guy who wants to have a government that favors the wealthy.

Which all too often is what is truly meant when people say government needs to be “pro-business” and they persist in pushing for measures meant to weaken the ability of organized labor to look out for people who truly work for a living.

ALTHOUGH I’M NOT going to trash the people who vote for those kinds of political people. They are, after all, expressing their viewpoint in the most American of ways – at the polling place.

If they can actually get enough people to cast ballots to elect their preferred candidates, then they deserve to have their people in charge for the next four years.

My gripe is with the people who can’t be bothered – either to have turned out to an early voting center during the past two weeks or to show up at their neighborhood polling place to express their views of whom they want in office.

I know some people will claim that none of the candidates represent their views. Some will claim they’re making a political statement by voting for nobody. Some were probably more interested in Nik Wallenda's walk over the Chicago River on Sunday than they are in anything that happens Tuesday.

IN REALITY, THEY’RE ignoring the reality that somebody is going to have to assume the political positions come January (for state and federal officials) and December (for Cook County people).

The idea of “None of the Above” somehow symbolically winning is nonsense. Either Quinn or Rauner – or by some miracle, Libertarian Chad Grimm – is going to be the new governor. That person is going to face great financial challenges that will only be made worse by officials engaging in partisan politics the way our Congress has done for the past four years.

I’d like to think that anybody who can’t be bothered to vote forfeits their right to complain about government at least until the 2018 election cycle when these government posts are up for grabs again.

If anything, I took the time to show up at an early voting center so I could gripe all I want – particularly in the space provided by this weblog.

SO IT IS with that in mind that I got a kick out of the last-minute e-mail pitches I received to remind me to be sure to vote.

Vice President Joe Biden and aides to Quinn sent me such appeals, with the latter reading more like a tacky chain letter – it literally told me to pass along the message to at least five people I know. Yes, I “broke” the chain by not sending it to anybody.

I even got a message from actor Scarlett Johannson. Sponsored by the Democratic national Committee, her message warned how a Republican majority in Congress would send us, “on the fast track back in time on women’s rights.”

Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, you have to admit that she’s more legitimate than Madonna, who a couple of decades ago told us, “If you don’t vote, you’re going to get a spanking.” Ouch!


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