Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Yes, I voted

There’s all this talk in the media about how Democrats—gay Democrats in particular—aren’t enthused about this election. Supposedly, we’re willing to let our adversaries win in order to “teach Democrats a lesson”. Personally, I think that’s bullshit, at least in part because early indications show stronger than predicted early voting by Democrats.

Today, I joined them and posted my ballot back to Chicago. The photo shows me about to drop it in the airmail box this afternoon.

I should say upfront that I’m very old-fashioned about voting: I consider voting to be the duty of every citizen, a non-negotiable obligation. Like so many other people, I have relatives who fought, and some who died, to preserve my right to vote. I could never—ever—let them down by not voting.

There have been times when I voted without much enthusiasm, or when I felt I was either voting against someone, rather than for another, or else I was choosing among the “lesser of two evils”. But the fact is, there’s always a choice, and no two candidates are ever truly equal, or equally bad, as the case may be.

I used to vote Republican exclusively. Now, I can’t remember the last time I voted for a Republican and I can’t see that changing. Even though I have complaints with the Democratic Party, there are two realities: First, no party will ever perfectly represent me or my priorities. Second, the Republican Party doesn’t represent me at all or any of my priorities—in fact, they’re the opposite of me on pretty much any issue I can think of.

As an American citizen living overseas indefinitely, I have the right to vote in federal elections (President and Congress) from the place I was last registered to vote in the US. In my case, that means the north side of Chicago.

So today I voted for Democrat Alexi Giannoulias for United States Senator from Illinois. Some of my fellow Illinoisans apparently have issues with him, though I can’t pretend to understand why. The level of “undecideds” in Illinois is still unbelievably high, so maybe voters don’t want either the Republican or the Democrat (one of whom will win).

It’s time for Democrats and Liberal/Progressive independents to come home.

Giannoulias is right on all the issues I care about—I mean really right. For example, he’s not one of these namby-pamby politicians who say they support separate-but-equal civil unions for gay people but not marriage; no, he supports full marriage equality. He’s been vocal about repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act as well as passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and immigration reform. That’s my kind of candidate.

His Republican opponent, by contrast, has a disgusting 38% correct voting record on GLBT issues in the 111th Congress. He’s moved to the extreme right in an attempt to become Senator because he formerly had an okay record, for a Republican, on GLBT issues. He’s made the calculation that being anti-gay is good politics, so I made the calculation that he’d be a bad Senator.

There was never any question about US Representative: Jan Schakowsky (D-9) is, as I said in February, among the best. She has a 100% correct voting record on GLBT issues in the 111th Congress (as she’s had for the past two Congresses, too). She also has been an outspoken opponent of private mercenary firms doing military work, and she spoke against them even in the dark years of the Cheney/Bush regime when Republicans still controlled the US House. I greatly admire her and am proud to have her represent me in the US House.

There is one criticism/complaint I have about this election, however: I had to vote for Alexi Giannoulias twice. This is because under Illinois law a person appointed to fill the unexpired term of a US Senator serves only until the next general election. Someone is then elected to fill out the remainder of the term—two months, in this case, until the new US Senate is sworn-in January 3—and someone is elected for the full six-year term. I think that’s stupid and a waste of taxpayer money.

When Barack Obama was elected president, he had two years left in his US Senate term. I think the appointee should’ve been able to fill out the remainder of that term, since the same election was choosing the permanent US Senator, anyway. I mean, we’re talking two months!

Whoever wins the election to fill the unexpired term will be sworn-in immediately for the “lame duck” session. It’s likely that the same person will also be elected to the full six-year term, but it’s not certain. That’s just weird.

Still, that’s quibbling over details. The important thing is electing the right people, and today I did my part to ensure that happens.


Tim Drake said...

Art, I have not voted yet precisely because I don’t know what to do in the Senate race. There is not a chance I would vote for the Republican Jedi-warrior pathological-liar Mark Kirk, yet I can’t quite force myself to share your enthusiasm over Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, our mobbed-up State Treasurer, whose sole qualification is that he plays basketball with the President. That might work for me, except (1) Barack “W” Obama is still in Iraq, (2) is escalating in Afghanistan, (3) appealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, (4) using the White House press room to express his personal religious reservations about gay marriage, and (5) building a Great Wall of China on the border with Mexico. Still, Alexi isn’t a Republican, and this year that might be enough for me. For Governor though, I’m definitely going Green Party.

Arthur Schenck said...

I don't buy the allegations of mob-ties—they strike me as overheated and over-hyped. I've seen no credible evidence to make me think there's any truth to them. Alexi's ties to Obama are irrelevant, too, because whether or not Obama is re-elected in 2012, Alexi will be Senator after he's gone.

If I were living in Illinois, I would vote for Quinn for Governor because he's the only one who can defeat the ultra-extremist Bill Brady. The Green candidate cannot win and can only prevent Quinn from winning, handing the keys to the state to a rabidly homophobic, misogynistic, racist, classist religious extremist. I could quite happily hold my nose and vote for Quinn just to keep Brady out.

Tim Drake said...

Alexi knowingly approved the loan to help an already CONVICTED mob figure get his "business operation" finances reorganized prior to sentencing, Alexi's signature is on the paperwork -- and he does not deny it. What more credible evidence do you need? And I am not comfortable with the idea of having someone with mob connections in a position to name the federal prosecutor in Chicago. That said, he'll still probably get my vote over any Republican, including the formerly "moderate" Mark Kirk.

And to quote Rich Whitney, the Green Party candidate for Governor: "you can't spoil something that is already rotten." And actually, the real "spoiler" in the race is an Independent named Scott Cohen who is polling at 5%. He is the pawnbroker who originally won the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor, but was forced from the ticket when it was discovered he beat his live-in girlfriend, who he met at a massage parlor owned by the guy that Alexi loaned money to. No one ever said Chicago politics was dull.

Arthur Schenck said...

No, I do know about that, but nothing I've seen establishes criminality. If having any connection whatsover—no matter how minor—to people in organised crime disqualifies one from public office, then most politicans in Illinois—Democrats and Republicans—would be out of work.

I'd still vote for Quinn—well, no I wouldn't, actually, I'd vote against Bill Brady and look to 2014.