Can Our Republic Survive?
By Michael Kleen
Past the sea of colorful yard signs and half-empty polling places, the contentious candidate forums, robo calls, and gray haired election judges, stands a question about the fundamental legitimacy of our form of government. Without a significant shift in public interest, can our republic survive? Will it be possible to have a healthy election for local, state, and national representatives without a new generation of educated volunteers, judges, public officials, and voters to sustain it?
I am guessing that most people who read this column will never have participated in a primary election. A primary election is an election in which the established political parties decide who their candidates will be in the general election in November. It is open to the public; one only has to ask for a Democratic or Republican ballot. These elections are important because, ideally, they present a number of different candidates for any particular public office and allow the voters to decide which of those candidates best represent their views. If you want an incumbent out of office, the primary election is the easiest way to make that change. Recent experience has taught me, however, that the primary process is in serious trouble, at least in the State of Illinois.
First, the majority of primary races are uncontested, and those that are contested usually come down to only two candidates. So out of all the lawyers, business owners, community leaders, teachers, and otherwise qualified people in a county or district, 99.99 percent of them have no interest in running for public office. In the County Board Chairman race in Winnebago County (pop. 295,266), for example, there were only two Republicans running against each other in the primary, with no Democratic candidate to oppose the winner come November.
Posted on April 4, 2012, in Columns and tagged 2012 Primary Election, Democracy, election judges, elections, Illinois Primary, poll watchers, republican government, Voter Apathy, Voting, Winnebago County. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.