Monday, May 5, 2014

What should we do about Quinn and Rauner?

John Dillon, Fred Klonsky, Ken Previti and I are retired teachers, activists, advocates for pension justice and bloggers. Today we discuss the issue of what current and retired public employees might consider regarding the Illinois election for governor. This commentary is cross-posted on all four blogs:

Voting for Quinn in November: Seeking HazMat Suit on EBay

There is the old clich̩ that voting in American politics often requires a person to hold his or her nose and pull the lever. Not so this year; at least, not so on the Illinois gubernatorial level. In the case of people like me Рpublic sector workers both current and retired Рwe have a couple of real stinkers to choose from.

I should remind myself that there are indeed other candidates, like the Green Party candidate Scott Summers or the Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm. But voting for those unlikely characters is an act of defiance akin to holding your breath when you were five years old to prove that no one could make you go to bed. Nice gesture, but even if you won, you put yourself to sleep. Nothing changes in politics without a plan that moves beyond the moment.

Me? I’m looking for a Haz Mat suit this year. Pulling the lever for Quinn is the most unseemly and antithetical action I can contemplate given his various affronts these last few years, from the ridiculous (Squeezy) to the delusional (“I was put on this earth…”) to the unconstitutional (signing SB1).

Whoa! Almost talked myself out of it.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take much time to read over Bruce Rauner’s home website proposals for correcting Illinois’ woes to see that (1) he has no idea what he’s doing, (2) he’s only trying to copy major ALEC ideas put into play by real (Koch-purchased) politicians with experience in right to work states like MI or IN, and (3) he couldn’t begin to do much more in Illinois then as he most accurately promised: “Really, I’m gonna drive ‘em all nuts.”

In short, he is an expert on nuts, guys. And we’d be nuts not to vote against him by choosing the danger we already know – Pat Quinn.

I could decide not to vote at all, but like the silly act of defiance such inaction might be a mistake. Reason? Quinn won last time by only 32,000 votes. Those were likely public sector workers and others. If we want Quinn to beat Rauner, we’ll need to vote for him as public sector workers.

And Rauner will do anything using others to prove he is not who or what he really is. Lula, the commercialized African-American “educator” is an attempt to blunt the outrage of most of us who are quite aware of his positions on nixing the minimum wage, pushing charter schools for the wealthy, or destroying pensions for small savings accounts called 401K’s.

And I could decide that I won’t do what the unions will ask me to do – yield and vote for Quinn despite his SB1 and all his blustering on fixing the pensions on the backs of retirees and now the poor current workers. Did I mention the future hirers? Yeah, I’m sorry they didn’t anticipate this dilemma too, but they’ll need to make a choice and ask us to do what’s ugly but necessary.

It’s a Hobson’s choice, guys, but that’s not to say both candidates are equivalently dangerous to the middle class. One is a bumbling populist while the other has, as WS once pointed out, “a lean and hungry look,” the kind who looks quite through the deeds of “real workers.”

Hey! Got one!


Dear John, Glen and Ken,

Thanks for kicking this off John. It’s a great exercise in debate and collaboration. As four retired teachers, we are modeling what we hope for our union: open debate and inclusion.

What is clear to me is that the election for Illinois Governor is going to be close. Recent polls show only a few points separate them.

Quinn’s problem is that because he and his Democratic Party comrades in Springfield led the assault on public employee pensions, many of us will not vote for him. At least, not at the moment. I talked to many IEA members after their face-to-face at the IEA RA. They hated Rauner, but told me that as of now they would not vote for Quinn. I expect that will change for many by November. But Quinn needs all of his Democratic base. Not some of it. A few thousand stay-at-homes or Green Party voters and his goose is cooked.

As for me, I have not decided yet if I will vote for Quinn.

What are the Democrats offering unions and public employees in exchange for our vote?

Incredibly, they are planning more pension thievery even as we write this. This time they have voted to cut the pensions of City workers. Chicago police, fire fighters and teachers are next on the agenda.

If Quinn wants my vote, he should veto the current bill and swear off any further pension cuts.

He should make a public pronouncement that he was put on this earth to raise revenue. To tax the rich. To end cuts to the programs that serve the most needy.

The more serious problem is that our union leadership and the leadership of the other unions in the coalition have done nothing over the years to create a working families’ electoral alternative.

They spent over four million dollars on a campaign to elect the Chairman of ALEC in the Republican primary and came within three percentage points of doing that.

Imagine what could have been built with that money in terms of a pro-working family’s electoral alternative.

- Fred

Dear John, Fred and Glen,

The problem of voting for governor in the next election is not merely Quinn (D) versus Rauner (R) in Illinois.

Teachers in IL, CT, FL, PA, etc. face the identical “lesser of two evils” ploy in future elections for governor. They are told that each state faces unique sets of issues, but that is a lie.

See HERE#1 and HERE#2 and HERE#3 and HERE#4 and HERE#5.

Teachers, pro-public-education parents, CCSS dissenters, high stakes testing opponents, pro-education-for-all supporters, and all active and retired public employees face the abuses presented by the corporate controlled two political party system that monetizes children for private profit while starving seniors by diminishing their pensions. Stop accepting the lies and abuses we are all being subjected to.

Harsh Fact of Life: There is no valid gubernatorial candidate from either major political party to choose between in many states.

Harsh Conclusion: Our votes have already been wasted – wasted as in killed, exterminated, made dead. The politicos during the manipulated primary selection processes saw to that. Past politicos have created barriers for third-party candidates. Major corporate media has also marginalized or ignored candidates other than (D) or (R). The Supreme Court has declared that money is free speech and approved bribery and the purchase of candidates by the wealthy. Unions have failed to create, select or support pro-union candidates at an early enough time when the money and support would have mattered.

Who do we vote for in November? For governor, leave it blank.

Vote for anyone of your choice for other elected office, but leave the governor’s choices blank. Yes, this sends a message. No, it is not wasted; it shows the numbers of people who see through the “lesser of two evils” ploy being played by Democrat and Republican Party leadership across the nation.

These party leaders need to count how many votes they themselves have wasted. They need to see that the old game is breaking apart as they lose in areas that they believed were safe.

Yes, this is a form of non-violent revolt. Vote, but don’t vote for any “lesser of two evils” gubernatorial candidates. If any state, such as Connecticut, has a chance for a third-party candidate, vote for the person in order to give the two-party game players a lesson in what politics could and should be.

If there are no valid candidates, revolt; leave blanks.

I will not wear a Haz-Mat suit. I will wear Gandhi eyeglasses.

- Ken


Dear John, Fred and Ken

Two equally objectionable choices could have been avoided. To choose between the lesser of two evils with the added hope that a repentant politician emerges to “swear off any further pension cuts…” is perhaps fanciful thinking.

However, “the failure of the union leadership to create an electoral alternative (that wasn’t based on electing the Chairman of ALEC as the Republican nominee) has led to this: an unholy alliance with the worst of the Democrats” (Klonsky’s …Will Rauner fear push our union leaders into the arms of Michael Madigan? May 4th). This is our profane reality now.

As to voting for either duplicitous, constitutional contract-breaker Quinn or negligent, ($53 million+ a year) venture capitalist Rauner:

For anyone who is a current or retired public employee, let your Conscience be your guide.

- glen


  1. Posted in Fred Klonsky’s Commentary Section: “What should we do about Quinn and Rauner?”

    By Walter Esler:

    Two thoughts are prompted by the above debate:

    First. I’ve been following the lesser evils debate for a while. I’ve never fully understood it. When I broke with the Democrats it was because I was unable to accept their core ideology. I’m talking about the values they share with the Republicans. That’s what I could not accept.

    At their core, both corporate sponsored parties are fundamentally undemocratic. No one reading this will need to have this spelled out. It’s obvious to all. As a matter of principle, both need to be opposed. It’s difficult for us to accept this, only because most of us have never lived in a democracy, and the prospect of change necessarily involves abandonment of old certainties. If we are to have a democracy we will need to embrace change, but whether we embrace it or not, change will come.

    Second. In a democracy, we are not consumers. We are participants. We participate in the process of democracy. A consumer simply selects among the alternatives others have proposed for him. For a consumer, every important issue has already been decided before the polls open.

    In a democracy the people propose the issues and organize around them. Political parties are coalitions of free citizens who have coalesced around a shared vision, a set of values and issues. If there is something in the vision which is repugnant to some individuals in such a coalition, they exit and seek to form a better coalition. The members of any political coalition are held together by shared values, a degree of trust, and mutual respect.

    It seems to me that there is no shared vision between the readers of these postings and the Illinois Democrats. We believe that ordinary people should be secure in their persons and property. If that can’t be true there is no hope for such as us. For us the defrauding of laborers and the oppression of their widows is a grave injustice. The Democrats do not agree. There is no trust. Look what the Democrats did to us. We would be fools to ever trust them. There is no respect. The Democrats would not treat us as they do if they had any respect for us. The word for the Democrats treatment of us is contempt. The Democrats treat us with contempt.

    There will be no Green Party in the November election. The Greens won’t be allowed to challenge incumbents. There won’t be a Labor Party, either. If we have any self-respect, our only option is to turn in a ballot with blank positions.

    At the moment, we have no friends. If we want change, we can begin by accepting that.

  2. Accept we have no friends- yes. Next move is to actually build a viable alternative. What that looks like, I cannot say. How to fund it, do not know that either. I do know there is no quickie cure. The alternative that must be built must be strategic and clever. Could we utilize the Green Party another way? Not at present because they want the electoral label more than they want policy and political victories. I think "we" need to expel the fake democrats from the Democratic Party by taking it over much like the Tea Party took over the GOP. This is a long term plan.

    In the meantime we must remain breathing. My question therefore to purists is simple: do you want to be kicked in the shin or stabbed in the heart? Want to breath and plan for a better era? Vote for Quinn.