Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The “Tea Party” made me do it – Dem votes a revolt against ideologue “takeover”

My polling place on Monday was much more technically advanced than this sketch of New Yorkers voting in 1900. But the sentiment of the individuals waiting to cast ballots remains the same.

I followed the lead of first lady Michelle Obama on Monday, spending some time in mid-day to go to an Early Voting Center and cast my ballot for the Nov. 2 general elections.

I suspect I followed her lead in another way, casting votes for a straight slate of candidates affiliated with the Democratic Party – which shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone who regularly (you three or four people know who you are) reads the commentary published here.

I GAVE MY support to Pat Quinn for governor and Alexi Giannoulias for U.S. Senate from Illinois. I cast a ballot against the one person on the Republican slate of candidates – Judy Baar Topinka – whom I have some respect for professionally and who under typical circumstances would have been the lone GOPer this year to receive my vote.

It’s those Tea Party types who have aroused my desire to identify so strongly this election cycle with the Democratic Party – not the actual candidates themselves (who admittedly have some flaws, albeit not so severe that I felt it necessary to deny them a vote).

All across the country, we have these ideologues who have their hang-ups about the electoral direction our nation took in 2008 toward the future, so they’re hoping their anger can enhance the natural fall-off that a president’s political party suffers in mid-term elections. For those of you who want to screech the name "Blagojevich!" in my face, I'd say that even if Milorod had behaved like a choirboy, your true hangups would be the same.

These ideologues are taking over the Republican Party and twisting it into a mechanism that they dream will be able to impose their will on so many social and economic issues. Now if I thought that the Green Party had candidates who were seriously capable of governing if elected, or that any of the political independents had a clue about government, then I’d be willing to give them the time of day.

INSTEAD, THE MOST credible candidate in Illinois among all those who don’t have a “D” or “R” after their names is Scott Lee Cohen. Even if he didn’t have all that personal baggage that creates a questionable character, he bothers me for being another business type who thinks that he can just leap into the top post on the strength of his willingness to self-finance a campaign.

So that left me with the Democrats, including Giannoulias, whom I didn’t vote for in the February primary election and still am not enthused about. But I couldn’t bring myself to cast a ballot for Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. Even though I realize the hard-core ideologues have their own concerns that Kirk isn’t conservative enough for them, I am realistic enough to know that this means Kirk (if he gets elected) is going to have to make significant gestures to appease his base.

Which means the North Shore congressman is more than capable of actions that will offend those of us with a bit more sense. This is the guy who once supported increased funding for efforts to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in Latin American nations. He’s capable of voting goofy to keep the ideologues happy.

As for Quinn, he got my vote because he doesn’t bother me and I’d like to see what he could do with a full four-year term of his own. He is the guy who has ticked off his own political party by suggesting that we need tax increases to help plug the $14 billion budget deficit facing state government.

WHICH I THINK is more realistic than Republican William Brady’s claims that this budget gap can be plugged primarily through cuts. I believe even Brady knows that such a thought is ridiculous, but he’s willing to say what he thinks his base wants to hear – regardless of how absurd it is.

I find it appropriate that Brady comes from Bloomington, the central Illinois city that also produced Adlai Stevenson II – who during his own presidential campaign in 1952 said: “The only way you could cut tens of billions from your budget would be to disband our armies, renounce our friends abroad, quit buying airplanes and guns, cancel our present defense orders and, presumably, crawl into a cave to await destruction.”

I realize that Stevenson was talking about federal government, not state. But the sentiment remains legitimate even now, nearly six full decades later. I wish Brady would pay attention to that thought.

Then again, I suspect the people who are most hard-core about backing Brady because they think he’s going to run amok through government with budgetary scissors enjoy that thought because they want certain programs cut entirely for ideological reasons, irregardless of whose interests get hurt.

SO IF IT means my vote for a straight Democratic Party slate of candidates is meant to spite the sentiment of those people, so be it.

Like I implied earlier, a desire to do something at the polling place that would be perceived as hostile toward those conservative ideologues even led me to vote for David Miller, a state legislator from suburban Lynwood, for Illinois comptroller.

Under typical circumstances, I could have easily voted for Topinka’s Republican campaign for that position. I respect the professionalism with which she operated the Illinois treasurer’s office for 12 years, and always enjoyed her quirky personality – which included an ability to get along with politicos of many parties.

There’s even the fact that the hard-core conservatives have their own hang-ups about Topinka because they don’t like her willingness to work with others.

AS FOR THE rest of my ballot, the Republican candidates were just so weak, I couldn’t take them seriously. All I had to see was the name “Ray Wardingley” to cast my ballot for Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. Or do you really believe the one-time “Spanky the Clown” belongs in Congress?

Now I’m realistic enough to know that Republican candidates will make electoral gains, both nationally and in Illinois. That may even be a good thing for us to have something of a balance if it forces the partisan sides to work together.

The problem I have with too much of the Republican rhetoric (particularly the stuff coming from the Tea Party types) is that it comes from people who are determined for total takeover so they can start imposing their own ideological agendas. Without that total control, they’re incapable of doing anything – which would be bad for all of us. If I thought these GOP candidates were interested in working with government to do “the people’s business,” I’d be willing to take them seriously.

They’re not, so I don’t. Which means I’m not about to give any of them the benefit of my vote.


EDITOR’S NOTE:  It’s a couple of years old, but Homer Simpson attempting to do his civic duty is still worth a chuckle.

1 comment:

Jason Betke said...

I hope you voted for Claypool instead of Berrios. He's one of the few guys getting my vote without the (D) next to his name.