SPRINGFIELD – Christian theologian C.S. Lewis said when it comes to choosing between the lesser of two evils, don’t choose either.
I was thinking about that advice last week when I cast an early ballot in this year’s election. Do I vote for Bruce Rauner, a man who I supported four years ago, who has proven himself inept and dishonest, or J.B. Pritzker, a person whose vision for Illinois I don’t agree with and whose own tax-avoidance shenanigans are shameful at best, criminal at worst?
I stared at the ballot for a long stretch and refused to vote for either. Instead, I cast a write-in vote for someone I admire, who’s gotten into politics for all the right reasons.
There is something deeply flawed about our political process when we continually face bad choices in whom we can vote for. One can ask: How did we get ourselves in this predicament? This year the answer is right in front of us: money. Both Pritzker and Rauner are wealthy individuals who are self-funding their campaigns. Gone are the days when gubernatorial candidates were busy making phone calls, hosting fundraisers and asking supporters for their donations. This pair just pulls out their checkbooks and starts writing.
Once upon a time, Illinoisans viewed such self-funded candidates with a jaundiced eye. Voters turned up their noses at mega-rich candidates such as Al Holfeld and Blair Hull when they sought to self-fund their runs for the U.S. Senate. So far, Rauner has spent $50 million of his own money and Pritzker has spent $150 million. There is something to be said for the fundraising process. It makes candidates at least somewhat responsive to the voters. You know there is something wrong with the political process when a member of the Kennedy family is crying poor because he can’t compete with Big Bucks Pritzker in the primary.
During his time in office, Rauner has turned prevarication into an art form. Pritzker, on the other hand, has presented a fiscal plan that is nonsensical. The state is broke, but he wants to increase spending? He wants to raise taxes, but he won’t say by how much or on whom? Give me a break.
In a democracy, the most precious thing a person possesses is a vote. When I was a reporter in Nevada, voters had the option of choosing “None of the Above.” Such an option is based on the principle that consent requires the ability to withhold consent in an election. Other democracies such as Greece and India give voters this option. Since Illinois doesn’t, I chose to cast a protest vote for someone I admire. A wasted vote? Nope. When forced to choose between two evils, choose neither.
• Scott Reeder, a veteran statehouse journalist, works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area; ScottReeder1965@gmail.com.