this originally started out as a rant against rahm as our new mayor. but i think what actually has me bummed out and embarrassed was our complete lack of interest in this election specifically and our lack of interest in democracy in general. this has been made even more obvious this past month after seeing all of the popular uprisings in the middle east and north africa – which have all been truly inspiring, jaw dropping, and amazing.
i’m so frustrated at our lack of interest in participating in democracy. in egypt, tunisa, libya, bahrain, etc. the people are fighting, dying, standing up for their desire and right to control their own destiny. to move toward a democratic system. and meanwhile here, where we have an albeit supremely flawed democratic process, we can at least vote. and in local elections voting can actually do something. and yet we choose not to do it. we choose to skip this five minute process. five fucking minutes it took me to vote in the mayoral elections. and yet only 40 percent of registered voters even bothered turning up.
i’m no statistician so don’t get on me about my numbers. but, there are about 2.8 million people who live in chicago. there are 1,406,037 registered voters, of those only 587,362 actually voted. of the people who voted 322,120 went to rahm. that’s it. that’s not much. this number might rise a little bit as they finish counting all the votes, but still… fucking hell! it sure doesn’t take many votes to be mayor of chicago!
this number depresses me.
i know emma goldman said something to the effect of voting is a distraction because it makes the populace complacent. thinking they have a voice, they wait until election time every couple years and do nothing in between. this makes sense to me. i agree with it. i’m not one to criticize anyone for being lazy in between elections as i don’t do much of anything outside of voting, but it’s a valid point. i know it takes a lot more than voting to get things done, it takes constant action, agitation, education, organization and work. but, here was a situation where, for the first time in just over 20 years, there’s been an actual mayoral election. an election where mayor-for-life daley wasn’t running. one that would result in kind of a clean slate. if that fact alone wasn’t enough to get chicagoans out to vote, i don’t know what would be.
instead we got rahm. who raised so much money from outside of chicago, who came in with an air of inevitability, who refused to engage with the community, who never offered any concrete plans or ideas, who had a sitting president and ex-president endorse him, who basically ran as an incumbant. his insane money took pretty much everyone else out of the game. and since we’re so lazy as voters he was the one with the most name recognition.
look at those numbers again. just think if more people had turned out. if more people had cared. i would be less depressed and frustrated if we had a huge number of voters. at least then chicago would’ve spoken. even if rahm had still won, i would be less angry. but instead no one spoke. and in the meantime. people are seizing cities in libya. people are actively engaged in democracy. just not here.