Monday, August 06, 2018

COLUMN: I Voted


Well, here it is. As I sit writing this column a few days ahead of schedule, it's another Tuesday election night and primary results are beginning to roll in on my TV. So far, it looks like most predictions are coming true and there will be no UMBC-style upset surprises out of this governmental March madness.

As for me, a couple of my picks are going to take home primary wins tonight, while a couple of my dark horse favorites aren't faring so well. It doesn't seem like there'll be any hanging-chad style squeakers tonight, so in the long run, my vote probably didn't matter a whole bunch. I'm still glad I cast it, though.

It's neat to be reminded that we live in a democracy where everybody has their say. Of course, we also live in Illinois, where only multi kajillionaires with enough money to coat TV screens in fear-mongering stand a chance of governing, but hey -- we're also a state that has no problem sending the ones who do a bad job straight to prison, so I suppose it balances out.

There's something about voting, though, that makes me feel so... adult. That's kind of ridiculous given the fact that I've been one for 30 some odd years now, but still. Walking into a polling place and hearing your name called out just sort of says, "I matter. I am part of your community. Now give me my Sharpie and my little 'I voted' sticker."

Truth be told, the voting process is nothing for me but concrete proof of what an ill-informed human being I am. I went to my polling place today for the big ticket races: Governor. Attorney General. Sheriff. Beyond that? I had no clue what I was doing. I don't know anything about tiny local races, and I WORK FOR A NEWSPAPER. In full disclosure, I have no idea what a comptroller is or does. It sounds like someone who gets paid to insult you on the internet, and we've already got a President who does that weekly for free.

Thankfully, in this primary, most of the undercard races were running unopposed -- so why bother forcing us to fill in the little circle by their name? Has there ever been an unopposed candidate so virulently hated that not ONE person voted for them? All it would take is that candidate to vote for him/herself to get elected, right?

Worse, though, were the two small races that DID involve multiple candidates. Since I knew nothing about any of the candidates, I should have done the mature thing and abstained from voting in those categories. But nope, not me. I was on a roll. I just picked the ones whose names I thought sounded the nicest. There's a smart move, Brown. So I suppose the biggest takeaway from this column is that you can be a rapist Nazi running on a comprehensive platform of puppy torture and forced public feeding of brussel sprouts, but as long as your name SOUNDS pleasant enough, THIS voter has your back. This, of course, is equally bad news if you're a saintly humanitarian named Stabby McMurderpants.

Every once in a while, I'll think to myself, "You should make a difference, Shane. Maybe you should run for city council." And then I'll feel very self-important for 2 seconds. And then I'll usually start laughing. It seems the one thing stronger than my need to make a difference is my childish need to be liked and accepted. And if you've ever yearned to become instantly hated by half the populace, there's no easier way to do it than run for office.

And I don't mean disliked. I mean HATED. Look at my uncle down in Alabama. To my knowledge, he's never met any major national politician or even sat through one of their stump speeches. That said, his Facebook feed informs me constantly of his firm belief that Hillary Clinton is a murderer, the entire Clinton family are Satanists, Barack Obama is a devout Muslim intent on bringing Sharia law to the U.S., and every Democrat is coming for our guns so that we'll all be defenseless when the great scourge of Socialism infects our shores. These are things he really believes.

I'm not built to withstand such irrational hate. I wrote a column last year that ticked off a handful of backyard urban chicken-keepers and it was nearly enough to give me daily panic attacks. Some people are born to lead. My role is best served supporting those leaders I support, and, well, comptrolling the ones I don't. Here's to the ones brave enough to give it a shot.

I just hope that today's winners end tomorrow's political gridlock. 

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