What now? Yesterday’s municipal election is over. Now it’s time for the runoffs. This is an extremely important moment in Chicago politics. If you live in a ward where there will be a runoff election, I would advise that you get your wish list together. The runoff candidates are going to being working harder than they ever imagined trying to get your vote. That’s a good thing.
It’s a good thing because you now can present the list of what your community needs to those who would be aldermen. If you didn’t vote Tuesday past, you can challenge the powers that be six weeks from now. A runoff means that no voter can be taken for granted. Voter apathy isn’t really an issue. Why? Those of us who exercise our enfranchisement are always the only votes that matter. As we can see from this last election, it’s not about who can get the most signatures or the most registrations. The game is about who can get the most voters. If only two people vote in a ward with 20,000 registered voters, the candidate with two votes wins. It is the simple but powerful arithmetic of the political game.
As a voter, I hope this empowers you. If you are in a runoff ward, then know it is the responsibility of the candidates to court you. To woo you. To make you want to say “I do.” Because if they don’t make the all-out effort now, believe me, they will do even less if they win.
This column isn’t about candidates. It’s about you. It’s about us. We must always keep in mind that voting is not only a right but also a privilege. It is the privilege based on nothing else but the fact that you woke up this morning in your right mind with the blood running warm in your veins. It is the privilege of power.
You want power? You want a say-so in how things work? You got it. I know that some of us might say we already have a voice at community and town hall meetings even if we don’t vote. However, imagine if you started hanging out with people who think like you do about your neighborhood, your schools, your health care (since we don’t need hospitals and clinics anymore, apparently, considering Cook County budget cuts and anti-poor decisions by big business), jobs, crime, etc. Does that sound like too much work, trying to hang out with folks who think like you? Don’t make it a work thing then, make it a “party.” I mean, that’s what the folks who run it all have, right? A Democratic “Party.” A Republican “Party.” A Green “Party.” You get the idea.
Imagine if your block club became a voting bloc. Imagine if everyone who is seeking public office knew they had to go to you first before they could go through the aldermanic, mayoral, congressional or presidential door. Speaking of presidential, imagine if there were only two people voting in this country, and you were one of them. Obama, Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani and others would be pursuing you like a teenage boy in love.
I know there are more than two people in the country voting. On second thought, are there really more than two people voting in this city, county, state and country? Or is it that there are really just two “kinds” of voters in this country? By “kinds,” I am not talking about the limiting categories of “race” and “class.” I’m talking about people who see themselves either as “powerful” or “powerless.”
There is no choice. Just action. Which kind are you?
Rev. Greg Livingston is pastor of Mandell United Methodist Church. For more, contact, http://thoughts-gsl.blogspot.com.