Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If most people only pay attention to the final month of a campaign cycle, what has been the point of the past year?

The reality of an election cycle – one that is astounding to politically-motivated people – is that real people only begin to pay attention during the final weeks leading up to Election Day.

I can't remember voting booths w/ curtains
With us being exactly four weeks away from the day we cast our ballots, that would be about now.

WHICH MAKES ME wonder if the candidates, on some level, wonder if they feel like they have wasted the past year or so that they have been out there trying to catch the attention of the public.

What is the point of making some suffer from their rancid campaign rhetoric if most of us haven’t been paying attention?

Obviously, they want to be up for any advantage they can get. So as to be able to say they’re the front-runner when people really start paying attention.

Which would make Bruce Rauner the most successful type of candidate possible. He started out as a complete no-name. I doubt anybody could have told you who he is.

THEY STILL CAN’T, really. But they would say he’s “running for governor.” They don’t know anything else about him. But that’s all he really cares about – particularly since his opposition consists of a couple of previous gubernatorial losers – and a guy in a lower office whom most people still don’t know much about.

My own theory is that outside of the sitting president, governor and mayor, nobody really knows who any of their elected officials are. Before anybody tosses out the name “Michael Madigan” to me, I’d argue that most people probably have some sense of the name, but don’t know what exactly it is he does.

So all of these elections are nothing more than a massive popularity contest. Think junior high school “Student Council” with grown-ups, and you just about have the right idea.

So with 28 days remaining before we vote (although I probably will use one of the Early Voting Centers that county Clerk David Orr’s office will maintain in the near future, and I suspect several others will, as well), what should we be thinking about Election ’14 – which truly ought to be thought of as the chance to avoid saying something stupid!

THAT SEEMS TO be the common theme of the Democratic primary for governor – where incumbent Pat Quinn is getting a challenge from activist Tio Hardiman, whose campaign is going nowhere on so many levels.

So much so that Quinn is refusing to even participate in a debate with his opponent. Not that it’s a new tactic. Candidates of Hardiman’s stature rarely get a chance to be perceived as being the equal of their incumbents on any level.

The fact that Rauner – who a year ago was just as unknown to the public as Hardiman was, and remains now – gets to be in the debates on the Republican side is because of all that campaign cash he was able to generate himself.

Money tends to buy political respect, although it is “respect” of a kind that is fleeting.

THIS REALLY IS a deadly dull election cycle, when you think about it. Rauner may be able to buy a primary, although it’s really going to test his wealth to see if he can continue to match up with the campaign cash that Quinn has accumulated – and not had to spend on his no-name primary opponent.

As for the Republican primary for U.S. Senate from Illinois, state Sen. James Oberweis of Sugar Grove may have a victory because he has an opponent as equally unknown as Hardiman.

And all the rest of the candidates for statewide office in Illinois, they’re running unopposed on March 18. Are we really supposed to get excited about speculation on the chances that Sheila Simon (the lieutenant governor who wants to be state comptroller) will be finished in electoral politics after this year?

It makes me wonder if this election cycle is going to be the one that proves the legitimacy of the old cliché; “People get the kind of government they deserve.”


EDITOR'S NOTE: It may be 28 days until Election Day. But time is just about up for one to make sure they are properly registered to cast a ballot in the upcoming primary elections. Tuesday is the deadline. If you're not registered, you'll have to wait until the Nov. 4 general election to actually express yourself with a computer touchscreen.

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