Why did 84% of Illinois voters give up their political freedom on Tuesday? We know that primaries and off-year contests are the worst when it comes to voter apathy, but this primary should have been different. With Illinois accelerating its downhill slide, voters had a chance to show that politics in our state was more than a spectator sport best left to the political hacks who call the shots year in and year out.
Illinois voters failed to seize the day. Instead, as many as 84% proved that they place no value on the political freedom that is the last chance to drag our state back from the brink. The career politicians who dictate what happens here must have sneered their lack of surprise. The indolent masses performed as expected.
Why don’t Illinois voters value their political freedom?
Illinois’ last governor went to prison. Our current governor is busy finding ways to fill the outstretched hands of the needy. A ruinous supermajority rules the legislature (see: Are Illinois Democrats the Worst Politicians in America?). Can it get worse? Of course it can.
Chicago has placed its bid to follow Detroit into bankruptcy. Senator Dick Durbin is preaching economic ruin at the federal level while diverting as much public money to his lost cause of a state as possible. Congressional Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez are parroting extremist nonsense to anyone who will listen. They are not running many reelection risks this year and needed to see a surge of interest from voters who don’t agree that taxpayers exist solely to hand over money to fulfill campaign promises. That didn’t happen.
What did happen? Did conservative Illinois voters assume their candidates could never win so their vote didn’t matter? Did they not see any difference between their choices? They should have. The differences were vast. Maybe they were too lazy to pay attention (see: Republican Candidates for Governor of Illinois Have Nothing To Sell).
What about Illinois Democrats? Did they assume their vote didn’t matter, either, because Pat Quinn was the easy pick and Dick Durbin is unbeatable? Do they think tax money will keep raining from the sky to fill our pockets, no matter what?
The thing to remember about voting in a primary election is that the contest is not all that counts. What matters is that voters show they are interested enough to show up at the polls to give candidates something to think about. If only a handful of one party’s voters show up and there is a crushing surge of votes from the opposition, that means something. If voters from both sides turn out in droves that means something, too. When voters in Illinois don’t care, public officials have no reason to care, either, or to give their irresponsible deeds a second thought.
Ignoring the political freedom to vote sends this message.
Residents of Chicago’s Ukrainian village probably have an opinion about what happens when you lose your political freedom. How would we explain to people in countries that battle over the freedom to cast a ballot that we in America don’t bother or care to vote but will whine and complain about a fiscal disaster zone like Illinois, a problem that our inaction helped create?
Do people who weren’t born here care more about our political freedom than lifelong Americans? There were only two other voters at the polling place when I cast my ballot on Tuesday evening. I overheard them talking with election workers. Neither was fluent in English. I asked an election judge about the turnout and she just shook her head.
Maybe immigration is the key to saving America, after all. Our country can import citizens who value the political freedom Americans don’t care about any more.