For my fellow politically-frustrated Illinoisans, spend a moment with this editorial from today's Chicago Tribune.
The hapless Senator Steans is my State Senator. Last year, the incumbent senator from the 7th District announced that she would not stand for reelection because she was joining the Blagojevich administration. She also announced that, after the primary, she would resign her office so that the winner of the Democratic primary could be appointed to fill her unexpired term. The announcement was unexpected and carefully timed to leave a minimal amount of time for potential successors to decide to run and secure a ballot position. Heather Steans just happened to be ready. One opponent, who helped expose the charade, managed to scramble and get on the ballot too.
In the campaign, Steans called herself an "independent Democrat," but she has shown herself to be machine through-and-through, her sad water-carrying today being only the most vivid example.
For more background about what passes for democracy in Illinois, go here.
The point of the Tribune's editorial was that we residents of Illinois should contact our senators and let them know where we stand; on the recall amendment as well as the income tax amendment. I say recall-recall-recall, and let's not give the guy any more tax money in the meantime. (Illinois has a flat rate income tax. The amendment would double the rate for persons with incomes over $250,000/year.)
So I wrote to my State Senator. Here's what I wrote:
Dear Senator Steans,
I just read the Tribune editorial from today. Welcome to life as a machine politician.
I am one of your constituents. I voted for your opponent. I didn’t know anything about you, but didn’t like the way you got your office. From your campaign materials, you seemed like a nice person. It’s a familiar story. You want to get involved in the political process in a serious way and make a difference, but in Chicago there is only one way in. If you’re on the outside you can’t do anything. On the inside you might be able to do something. So you take the deal.
Today you got a good dose of why it’s a lousy bargain, even if there isn’t any better one available.
But maybe you liked the Tribune’s editorial. It said your seat is safe for as long as you want it, but you know that’s not true. You know it’s safe only as long as you’re on the team. Just see what happens if you start to think and speak and vote for yourself, instead of according to party discipline.
It’s hard to hate the machine. We like the bread and circuses. But at the end of the day it’s just not democracy.
So for the record, please vote for placing the recall amendment on the fall ballot. I also oppose changing the income tax under the present circumstances.