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The [Tuesday] Papers

As I have for 15 years or so, I voted at the Wicker Park fieldhouse across the street from the cool-ass building I rent an apartment in from the awesome Popovic family and, as always, I have some thoughts to share.

I've rarely had to wait in a line to vote there, and while there was a line when I went this morning, it was so short as to be negligible. But it was long enough for me to commit what may have been an Election Day faux pas. I tried starting a conversation with the guy in front of me.

He looked uncomfortable. Is that wrong? I wasn't electioneering; I know better than that. I just commented that we were in this beautiful gym with those wood floors and nice rims and that they should let us shoot baskets while we wait. Why tease us so? It's a pretty nice court.

Then I suggested they give us beepers like restaurants that page you when your table is ready. "Just trying to improve the experience for all Americans," I said.

And then I looked around and recalled - in my head - a conversation I had with the Parking Ticket Geek the day before. I run into him often and while we don't share many political views we actually have honest political conversations; so rare these days they should be protected by the Endangered Species Act.

We were talking about our mutual dislike of early voting. "What if you find out the day before the election that the guy you voted for is an ax murderer?"

Or, more likely, has an illicit relationship with the ax lobby.

The Geek's dislike was built more on the notion that there is a single day when we all participate in a communal act of democracy. I second that notion as well.

So while I was standing in line waiting to vote this morning, I Iooked around the gym and was touched by the scene. Ordinary Americans of all shapes, sizes and colors gathered for a common purpose. Free coffee and donuts. Volunteer election judges. Kids outside who should have been in school. It was very Norman Rockwell.

And while I'm not much a patriot - last refuge of scoundrels and all - I also noticed a modest (cheap) American flag on stick jutting out of a wall at a 45-degree angle. Even the coldest heart has to warm to that a little, even if we continue to rampage around the globe killing innocents in an irrational vengeful bloodthirst that suggests we're still experiencing national post-traumatic stress syndrome from 9/11. It was inspiring.

And then I got my ballot.

There may be places in America where the ballot is as inspiring as the exercise, but Chicago is not one of them.

In fact, a Chicago ballot, which naturally includes Cook County and Illinois races on it, must be the biggest ballot buzzkill in the world.

*

First, I realized I had forgotten my bad judges cheat sheet.

And because this is Cook County, you need a bad judges cheat sheet.

Not that the bad judges ever get voted off the bench; they don't.

But it's your civic duty to try. (Susan McDunn isn't up for retention but if she were, I'm not sure what I would; a friend pointed out to me over the weekend that she believes McDunn because Daley, Burke, Alvarez and the Archdiocese are out to get all of us.)

Then it dawned on me: Vote against all of them! It's so rare for a judge to not be retained that there is no way my single vote would cast a good judge - if there is one - off the bench. But maybe I could do my part with the bad judges.

*

Doing so required a lot of coloring; I had the kind of ballot where you complete the arrow by scribbling in the missing part.

I find punching holes much more satisfying.

*

By the way, I don't like elected judges but let's face it, judges in Cook County aren't elected as much as they are appointed - by Ed Burke and the central committee. If we're going to appoint judges, then, let's at least do it in a more accountable way.

*

Then I turned to the top of the ballot. I usually vote Green, independent or write-in for president, though not always. I cast my first presidential vote for Walter Mondale, and followed up with a vote for Michael Dukakis. Bill Clinton, successfully reimagined as a far-left liberal by the GOP and enabled in their messaging by a dipshit media, was always too conservative for my tastes, having been familiar with this work in Arkansas. When he put Ricky Ray Rector to death during the campaign, I knew I couldn't vote for him. Turned out my absentee ballot from Minnesota didn't arrive until a day after the election so it didn't matter.

I considered voting for Clinton's re-election in 1996, but his version of welfare reform was too much for me to bear. Some folks are paying the price for it now. I voted for Ralph Nader, as I did in 2000. If I lived in a state where I thought my single vote would make the difference, I would have voted for Al Gore. I voted for John Kerry in 2004, which is hard for me to even type, but I badly wanted to vote against George W. Bush.

I wrote in Bob from the Beachwood in 2008.

He wrote in me.

*

Recent message from Bob: "Looks like I'm voting for you again."

*

Everyone should get at least one vote for president in their lifetimes.

*

This time around it was between Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson.

Turns out Rocky is not on the Illinois ballot, though Stein is.

I almost vote for Stein just for that reason. And then I thought, no, I'm not going to abide by Illinois' crappy ballot access rules. So I wrote in Rocky.

*

See, voting for me has become as much an exercise in spite as anything else.

*

But not always. Because of redistricting, I am now in Mike Quigley's 5th, not Luis Gutierrez's 4th. This gave me the chance to vote for Green Nancy Wade.

*

And then, depression set in.

State Sen. Willie Delgado ran unopposed, though there was a write-in slot available. I almost went with Zora Popovic, but I didn't want to make a mockery of my ballot, even though it was making a mockery of me. Zora would be great at the job, but let's face it, she would hate commuting to Springfield.

State Rep. Cynthia Soto, whom I voted for in a first ward aldermanic race years ago, also ran unopposed.

I thought I was now in Derrick Smith's district, but I did not see that race on my ballot. Did I miss it? I've gotten the mailers - some of them even told me which number to punch, even though I didn't have a punch ballot. Wasn't gonna vote in that one anyway.

A write-in spot was available in the Cook County State's Attorney's race, so I wrote in Tracy Siska.

*

I voted in favor of the referendum allowing the city to negotiate in bulk with ComEd because there is an opt-out provision. I didn't vote for or against the other referendums because they are jokes being played on you by nefarious forces.

The one referendum I would have voted in favor of - an elected school board - was not on the ballot in my precinct.

*

Instead of giving you an "I Voted" sticker, election authorities should give you an "I'm A Chump" sticker.

*

Actually we don't seem to get stickers in Chicago, just a piece of paper. Someone must have the piece of paper contract.

*

I haven't written as much as I had hoped in the days leading up to the election about the campaign for president, the third-party debate held here in Chicago to little coverage, the media's generally shameful performance, the ridiculous punditry our local journos have participated in, and so forth, because, frankly, it's tiring. And I'm already perpetually exhausted. I'm trying to conserve energy to see my way forward with this site, this company, my career and so on. But I don't think my thoughts are a secret - certainly not to longtime readers. And new readers will catch on soon enough.

Election Notebooks coming the rest of the week.

Also, keep your eyes on @BeachwoodReport.

And remember, tonight I'll be one of Jim DeRogatis's guests at this Columbia College event which will be streamed and carried live by CAN TV, whose executive director happens to be Barbara Popovic. Full circle!

Song Of The Moment
With all eyes on Ohio, it's Bruce Springsteen's "Youngstown."

Beachwood Election Guide!
Remember, you can print this out and take it with you into the voting booth and/or use it for rolling papers.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Spiteful.



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Posted on November 6, 2012


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