Sunday, April 29, 2007

Power to the People?

There are a few readers of this blog with whom I exchange e-mails on various topics from time to time.

One of whom, whose identity I have agreed to withhold, has given me the okay to print their e-mail last week regarding the issue of changing the status quo and addressing many of the complaints that the public has about government.
John I cannot disagree with you and other politicians who blame voters for not instituting change by the use of their vote. Incumbents have made it near impossible for upstarts or independents to get on the ballot let alone when a race. Add to that the passing down of political positions to family and friends and their are even fewer seats to be had.

Real change can only be made through guys like you taking political risks and holding other politicians to higher standards of ethical behavior and more importantly to serving the public rather than themselves.

The day of grass roots change has been over for years and you guys keep telling us the voters thats the only way things will get done but with so few challengers being able to crack the political machines in the cities and in the states far too few reformers get in at any one time to make effective changes and by the time the next election rolls around many have been sucked in to the game and just want to keep their jobs. Cynical but true.
You guys, the insiders have to make changes not voters. Voters cant pass a bill on term limits or campaign reform or patronage hiring or chauffers for political hacks etc. Only you guys can, so tell the fence sitters to stop waiting on voters to make the change and do some of the hard work we elected them to do.
So the question I have is, political theory aside, but as a realistic matter, do you think that the real power to effect change rests with the men and women who have the votes on legislation, or with the men and women who put us there?


At April 30, 2007 at 8:37 AM, Anonymous Democrat said...

I agree it rests with the elected Politicians.

At April 30, 2007 at 12:21 PM, Anonymous Will said...

Emil Jones just made the answer to that question perfectly clear with his games over the utility rate increases, didn't he?

Ultimately, power does rest with the people but Illinois has too many roadblocks separating the average person from the mechanisms of power. Having a binding referendum law for the state would be a good way to change that and one of the best things Illinois could do to kick-start reform in many areas.

At May 2, 2007 at 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

con-con offers the only opportunity to bypass legislative gridlock.

At May 6, 2007 at 12:20 PM, Anonymous testing-123 said...

I am sorry ... but alot of this is just b.s. I am in no way insinuating that getting elected is easy, however, the biggest hurdle to getting on the ballot is - The ability to read. You would be amazed at how many candidates don't get on the ballot because they can't read or nobody helping them can. The Illinois election guide spells out everything you need to know, however candidates commonly sign petitions they did not circulate, use the wrong petition sheet for the office they are seeking, or collect signatures outside of the district boundaries (i.e. collecting signatures at the local Jewel).

Many of the very big and well managed political organizations have precincts without captains and captains who are not motivated. Most candidates (with a friend or two), should be able to pick up at least 1000 signatures going door to door with poll sheets in approx two-three weeks. That is enough for most state rep districts.

I believe it is much easier to complain, rather than do something about it.
If a small fraction of the people who complain about illinois ballot access would (a.) read the illinois candidates guide and (b.) find out why people got kicked off -- I believe they would change their mind. In a way, I think we should all be grateful that there is a minor hurdle to clear. Any potential candidate who can't follow these simple rules -- probably should not be writing the rules.

At May 6, 2007 at 12:23 PM, Anonymous testing-123 said...

I think it is amazing that people can doubt the power of grass-roots change considering the results of the last aldermanic elections. The biggest problem is that the value placed upon alderman is disproportionately high here in chicago. So far, the aldermanic races have managed to generate grass-roots buzz, however the MUCH MORE important state rep, state senate, and county commissioner positions have generated little in comparison

At May 8, 2007 at 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

testing 1,2,3 spends alot on the ease of getting on a ballot and suggests that that in itself is the road to change. Apparently he thinks illiterates dont get elected and that may be a good thing.
The gist of the complaining was not that ballot access is hard but it is hard to get elected. however lets talk about the pitfalls of just trying to get access. One example is challenges to ballot access ie signatures or paperwork etc that can cost a potential candidate thousands of dollars to answer. wether its valid or not the challenge itself could put a stop to any upstart trying to get elected. I have not run for office but know some who have tried and as easy as 123 thinks it may be to get on a ballot these non "illiterates" needed to hire professionals to make sure all the hidden i's and t's were dotted and crossed. From the start the deck is stacked against new blood and new ideas.

At May 9, 2007 at 8:42 AM, Anonymous testing-123 said...

Anonymous, I sincerely apologize for the tone of the previous post. It was rude.

From original post:
Incumbents have made it near impossible for upstarts or independents to get on the ballot ...

I spent too much time reacting to a single fragment in the original post ... and I have to admit that little of what I said applies to independents/third parties.

Getting on the ballot is the first hurdle to getting elected. Each time an incumbent is seriously challenged, their political calculus can be altered. Most incumbents are decent people -- some better than others -- and they face an immense amount of pressure from lobbyists, party leaders, etc., however, very little pressure from voters -- because they run unopposed year after year.

No campaign that I was responsible for has had their signatures challenged, and I don't believe it is because they weren't trying (you can find out who requests copies of your signatures). Have I been lucky? Maybe, however each time I have seen somebody get kicked off, it has been for valid reasons: candidate signed petition -- but did not circulate it, incorrect petition for the office they were seeking, or the most common -- not enough signatures when all of the non-registered voters and people who don't live in the district are removed.

It is a good idea to hire professionals to make sure the i's and t's were dotted and crossed, however, I don't think you have to.

Can you be challenged for absolutely no good reason ... I guess you can. However, you will win. If you are trying to unseat a truly incompetent individual, lots of people you don't even know might stand up to help you.

Getting elected is hard. There is no doubt about it. However, good 'upstart' candidates with good ideas who work tirelessly can get elected. The biggest problem with running for office (I believe) is making a solid 100% commitment to doing it. You are dead in the water if you don't.

At May 9, 2007 at 12:24 PM, Anonymous lake county democrat said...

The politicians. The state is gerrymandered to limit voter power. Special interests pull the strings. How many times have their been polls showing a disconnect between public wishes and policy (from important things like school funding to less significant things like driving while on a cellphone). Even with the judiciary, lawyers are allowed to contribute to judges' reelection campaigns and then appear before those same judges. And we all know how forcefully the state has intervened to check corruption at the local government level.

At May 9, 2007 at 4:27 PM, Anonymous DuPage Saint said...

Real powere rests with Madigan and Jones, the rest of the senators and reps are expensive wallpaper. The man of the people P. Quinn managed to screw the people royally when he pushed to eliminate cumulative voting giving power to the leaders to use as they want when they want hand picking candiates and causes.

At May 21, 2007 at 1:42 PM, Anonymous Truthful James said...

John --

Not only have the Districts been gerrymandered, it now costs way too much to get elected even in "safe seats." What is most important to te politician is perpetual reelection until retirement and pensions.

As a consequence, legislators are partial to thir support mechanisms and not to the voter. They know, for instance that with fifty percent, say, of the voters actually filling out ballots, the positions of only 26% over those actually voting will carry the day.

The organized lobbyists know this, and contribute accordingly.

The major problem -- and it will be exacerbated by super duper Tuesday -- is that campaigns are way too long, and thus, way to expensive. Those that have, get.

Which is why it is interesting to watch Fred Thompson stealth campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.

He knows that the 21st Century as seen the rise of voter ennui. His use of YouTube, Townhall and other Blogs is designed to keep.

He doesn't meed to spend a million a day. Iand place himself in thrall.

Through the Internet he is shaking hands with every voter in America

At June 8, 2007 at 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ballot Access is indeed an issue in the state of IL. We had a decorated Veteran with one of the states best election lawyers kicked off the ballot not because he lacked the proper number of registered voters signatures, nor because he failed to file his statement of candidacy and statement of economic disclosure. He followed all the rules and crossed all the t's and dotted all the i's - but one.

He failed to take a receipt of his statement of economic disclosure from one bureaucratic agency to another by a filing deadline - and as soon as it was pointed out to him, he attempted to submit the receipt to show that the economic disclosure was filed in the correct place at the correct time.

The state legislature has designed the ballot access laws to trip people up and prevent a democratic debate and choice for us citizens. Your friend who emailed you is exactly right, those elected representatives should reform the laws to live up to the democracy that a decorated veteran put his life on the line to defend.


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