Sunday, October 29, 2006
Vote Green!
So it's election season, and even though in my role as a pastor at church I can't officially tell people to vote for a particular candidate, as a private citizen and public blogger I am free to endorse whomever I want. Newspapers always give their candidate endorsements right before the election, so I figured this blog would as well.

I'll start with the race for Illinois governor. If you live in Illinois you know that our two major party candidates are basically a choice between a turd sandwich and a giant douche (to quote South Park). The Democratic incumbant, Rod Blagojevich, has about a dozen charges of corruption against him currently and is being investigated by the feds for illegal activity. On the other hand, the Republican candidate, Judy Baar Topinka, is not much better. Besides having a rather caustic personality and running a mud-slinging campaign - her record and policies are rather unappealing too, IMHO. I'm not exactly a conservative Republican, which is exactly what Topinka is. On the other hand, I don't much like Blagojevich's policies either, and I'm not about to vote for another corrupt politician even if I do agree with him on a few issues. (Which to be honest, I rarely agree with most Democratic positions either. They're not nearly progressive enough for me most of the time.)

Bottom line is that I don't want to vote for either of these candidates. And fortunately I don't have to. This year we have a third party candidate on the ballot, Green Party nominee, Rich Whitney. I am very excited about this! My endorsement and my vote for Illinois governor definitely go to Rich Whitney this year, for three reasons:

1) I try to vote third party whenever I can just on principle. In my opinion our two-party system here in America is hopelessly broken. Both major parties cater to big money interests more than to the voters, and both seem more concerned with gaining or maintaining their party's dominance than in actually serving the people. Besides that, neither party is really seriously talking about the kind of issues that I care about and that I think reflect the values of God's Kingdom. (e.g. active concern for the poor, economic justice, human rights and human dignity, racial & gender equality, Creation care, peace & non-violence, support for local communities, etc.). By voting for a third party that more accurately reflects my own views, I can in one small way contribute to the undermining of our corrupt and failed two-party system.

2) The Green Party probably comes the closest to representing my own politics. They are a true reform party, with a platform based on eliminating the influence of corporate lobbyists in Washington and returning control of our political system to the people. They are also the only ones talking about real social justice issues. The Greens have 10 Key Values, and I am amazed at how many of them line up with my own. They are:

  • Grassroots Democracy
  • Social Justice
  • Ecological Wisdom
  • Non-Violence
  • Decentralization
  • Community-Based Economics
  • Feminism
  • Diversity
  • Responsibility
  • Future Focus
I've got nothing to argue about there. This is a platform I can get behind. Frankly, I just wish more Americans knew about the Greens or had the courage to break with the two party system. I think they'd find that this party actually represents their own concerns, and that they bring a ton of fresh ideas that could actually work.

3) Rich Whitney in particular has an excellent platform for Illinois. His ideas are good, they are detailed and well thought out, and they are workable. I'm most excited about his plan to opt out of the "No Child Left Untested" program that the Bush administration has crammed down the throats of our education system these past few years. I think it is a travesty that is destroying our school system, forcing our teachers to teach to a test rather than teaching kids to really love learning. I'm praying that it will be eliminated before Emma gets old enough to go to school otherwise I think we might seriously consider alternative forms of education.

Whitney's plan is to swap the current property tax funding of schools for state income tax funding. This would take a huge burden off homeowners like myself, who currently bear over 60% of the burden of funding our schools. Furthermore, it would help equalize the current gross disparities between schools in wealthy districts versus schools in the poorer areas. Currently, Illinois has some of the worst schools in the nation in inner city Chicago, and also has some of the best schools in the nation just a few miles away in wealthy suburban Naperville. The reason for this is because the State of Illinois, in violation of its own state constitution, fails to provide adequate State funding for local schools across the board. Whitney's tax swap plan would not only erase this inequality, it would also provide full funding for schools on the State level, eliminating the need for federal funds and thereby allowing us to opt-out of "No Child Left Behind". I'm a big, big fan of this plan.

(BTW, this is not just a pipe-dream. This plan has actually already been proposed by several Democratic state reps and lacks only support from the rest of the party and from the governor to succeed.)

I like a lot of Whitney's other platform issues as well, and he has my vote without question. I just wish more voters would break out of their two-party mindset and vote for a candidate that would actually be good for our State. Poll after poll shows that voters are sick of both major party candidates, and yet there is this idea that it is "throwing your vote away" to vote for a third party. This makes no sense to me. I hear this word "electability" a lot. As in "Rich Whitney is a great candidate with good ideas; but he's just not electable." Let me say this: if everyone that likes him, or that is fed up with the other options, would vote for him, he would be electable! Electability is an important consideration for parties, to choose the person among their own ranks that can win for them; but electability should not be a consideration for the average voter (or at least the average independent, non-party affiliated voter - which is usually the majority category these days). It's our job simply to choose the best candidate from among all the options presented. Whoever is the best is electable, or would be, if we'd stop thinking so much in terms of partisan power and more in terms of what is best for the people and the nation in general.

Bottom line, if you live in Illinois and you want a better option this year, vote Green. Vote for Rich Whitney.

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posted by Mike Clawson at 10:02 PM | Permalink |


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