They’re All Crooks Anyway:
Thoughts About Politicians and Voting
By Charley Earp
Illinois, and specifically the Chicago area, has been undergoing a
terror campaign whereby our transit system is being held hostage in a
feud between state legislators and the governor. They’re threatening
to cut transit by 81 bus lines and raise fares hugely. Higher fares I
can live with. Losing a bus line to my workplace, requiring me to walk
an extra 1.5 miles everyday, in winter, no less, sucks. Discussing
this with my co-workers, most of whom drive, has led to some
interesting conversations about politics, social services, and the
Today, we were discussing the governor’s latest curve-ball in the
transit apocalypse saga. The legislature passed a funding bill last
week that the governor didn’t like. Again. The governor did an
amendatory veto, ordering the legislature to add free transit service
throughout the whole state to all seniors. If and only if they did so,
would he sign the funding bill.
I told my co-worker that I hope the legislature passes the new bill
and we can get on with it. However, I also remarked that I wanted to
see the governor get voted out his next campaign. He’s hamstrung this
process, as have many of the legislators. Next to the governor the big
bad guy in the transit crisis has been Speaker of the House, who’s
been in office, like, forever. I have no doubt that both of them are
[I wrote this on Jan 15. The new transit funding bill was passed the next day.]
I have had a love-hate relationship with voting since I turned 18. I
basically was too far left to approve any of the predators who run
this system. However, I also recognize that politics controls a lot of
power and wealth and that sometimes the lesser of two evils is really
the lesser of two evils.
I voted against Reagan in the first national election I was eligible
in 1984. I voted against Bush in 1988. In 1992, I abstained. Ditto in
1996. These abstentions coincided with a decidedly anarchist turn in
my politics. In 2000, Ralph Nader and the Greens persuaded me to get
back into the voting game. In 2004, I held my nose and voted for
Kerry. This year, I have no idea yet, really. I feel like I’ve gone in
a big circle. I hated Mondale and Dukakis, not to mention Reagan and Bush. Ditto Clinton and Gore.
Nader was the noble rebellion, thumbing our noses at the two parties.
By 2004 the noble rebellion was over and dead. I have little hope in 2008 that
the Greens can do much in the Presidential arena, though local and
state races still have potential.
In Illinois, we have a ballot line for the Greens and, wonder of
wonders, a statewide primary. I will take the Green ballot and gladly
do my service for the Party. However, come the general election, I
don’t know if I can stand to just do the symbolic thing and vote for
the Green Prez candidate. I know we can’t even come within a parsec of
5%, the magic number. I feel so sure of this that I’d bet on it, if I
gambled. I actually think Kucinich is worth my vote, but he’ll be long
gone in November.
[Rumor has it Kucinich will resign in the next day or so.]
If Obama wins, I might vote for him just because of the race factor.
Not that he’s a particularly progressive black candidate, but he
seems, well, electable. If Hillary wins the nom, I will almost have to
vote Green or Socialist. The Clintons are so hugely responsible for
shifting the Democratic Party ever further to the right.
However, push comes to shove, I’d rather have Hillary than any of the
Republicans. I don’t think the planet can stand another Republican
presidency. Of course, it barely survived the last Democratic one.
It’s often said, and there’s some truth in it, that we on the left
have far more important things to do than agonize over the election.
People who say that often seem to reach a decision about voting much
easier than I do. I believe in democracy, radical participatory
democracy. Picking which undemocratic oligarchy will run the State for
the next term seems an act reeking of resignation. Of course, I
remember that I’m doing this for the poor, the suffering, those who
cry out for relief from the worst aspects of the system, like mass
transit crises. I’m not doing this to remain ideologically pure. I’m
on the left because I still have a heart after all these crazy years.
Charley Earp lives in Chicago, commutes everyday to his travel
industry job, and is active in his local Quaker meeting.