It’s October, and that means every politician in town, new and old, is out there stumping away in the strangest places. I run into a lot of them at the Metra station and, while I normally tell them “I’m Canadian” (a half truth), if I see they’ve got ballot petitions, I always sign up. The funny thing is that, dressed as I am with my bicycle, they rarely talk to me at the Metra, but they always do at the CTA. Is there some rule that hipsters (hah) and eco-friendly urban-hippies aren’t politically savvy, or are we too smart? Is it that I look too young to vote or disinclined?
I put this out there: Every time anyone, no matter what party, asks me if I’ll consider signing a petition to put someone on the ballot, I sign.
That said, it makes me wonder how that all works. I firmly believe that anyone who wants to run for office should get a chance. Even if I hate them and their ideas, the basic freedoms of this country make me want to give them a shot to show what they’re like. There are exceptions mind you (if you’re against certain human rights, for example), but in general, I think even the fuckheads deserve a chance. It’s not like anyone’s making us vote for them, right?
I do sometimes feel a little twitchy about it, since I know not everyone prints up the ballot a week or three in advance, researches the judges and what not, determines who is the most and least acceptable for electing, and takes that with them to vote. Sometimes I think a ‘pre voting test’ should be enacted. If you can’t show your work, or name at least one person running per office, you don’t get to vote for that office. That would mean everyone gets to vote for the President, but 90% of Chicago won’t be voting for the judges. Then again, I don’t like the idea of making it harder for peolpe to vote.
There needs to be a better balance between letting the idiots rule the asylum and only permitting the educated masses to control what happens. I don’t have an answer to that one.
I do wonder what makes people decide ‘I’ll ask that person to sign my petition!’ these days. Do you look for people who look like your constituency? How do you know what a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Green Party member looks like? Do you just ask everyone? If I dress nicely in slacks and my winter coat, will only the Republicans approach me? If I’m in jeans and a dress shirt, will I get more Democrats or Greens?
That extends to the people who pander on the street. You know the ones “Do you have a moment to talk about abortion?” And yes, someone asked me that. I said “I’m for it, so long as the reasons are seriously thought through and discussed.” Once someone challenged me on that, saying they bet I was against the death penalty too. “Nope, I’m for it, so long as the case has been tried justly, fairly and due process has been served.” Gun laws? For ’em, but also for the people being permitted to own guns. Chicago, I’m looking at you.
I’m a contradiction and I know it, which is why I do occasionally engage with those people. I’m for marriage for everyone, gay or straight, but I won’t sign any petition for it until DOMA is struck down. If you don’t understand why, go look up exactly what Clinton nailed the country with in that bit of legislation.
The point is that I think things through before I jump into them. I research, I try to understand as best I can without an advanced degree in this stuff. But that’s the problem. We’ve made our government so complicated, the common man might as well be playing ‘Eeny Meeny Miney Moe’ with elections. And that’s a tragedy.
Much like Critical Mass, the masses can (and will) sway our country one way or the other. It’s time for all of us to pick the direction we want to see the nation go, and start pedaling.
And you guys with the sign-up sheet? Not every tree-hugger on two wheels is a frothing activist. Sometimes, we’re just people like you.