The at least hes not Rauner candidate
  • Alex Wroblewski
  • The “at least he’s not Rauner” candidate

In 1986, Lyndon LaRouche candidates no one had heard of won the Democratic nominations for lieutenant governor and secretary of state of Illinois. “I will never run on a ticket with candidates who espouse the hate-filled folly of Lyndon LaRouche,” said Adlai Stevenson III, the Democrats’ nominee for governor, who formally abandoned his party, ran on a third-party ticket, and was clobbered. It perhaps says something about this year’s race for governor that twice in the space of 24 recent hours I was asked if LaRouche is still alive. It turns out he is (he’s 92). But he doesn’t have anyone on the ballot running for governor in Illinois, so put that thought right out of your mind no matter how tempting it is.

The Libertarians do offer an alternative to Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn, but the Trib‘s Kristen McQueary kiboshed him with a piece last Friday titled “Illinois Libertarians don’t deserve your vote.” McQueary said that when their nominee, Chad Grimm, visited the Tower, his grasp of issues was “woefully inadequate.” He wanted Springfield’s hands off education and health care, but he didn’t have a plan for doing either. He was “unclear on the income tax rate and rollback schedule. . . . He mixed up the names of state agencies.” He wanted to strike a bunch of laws from the books but he couldn’t say which ones.

Voting is an existential act. We vote so we can swagger out of our polling place telling ourselves, “Here’s a Grade A citizen who knows his mind.” It’s hard to swagger after casting a protest vote for someone who has no idea what he’s doing.

But then, protest is the only reason to vote for either Quinn or Rauner. Rauner is rich and ruthless so we protest by voting for Quinn; Michael Madigan scares the bejeebers out of Quinn so we protest by voting for Rauner. Desperate for a reason to vote for either one of them, I’ve found myself agreeing with whoever I read last. Neither editorial endorsement impressed me, but when Steve Chapman argued for Rauner I was for Rauner. But then Mark Brown and Eric Zorn mounted impeccable cases for Quinn; but on Sunday John Kass laid out a case for Rauner I couldn’t possibly disagree with. The truth is I have to vote, I have to vote for one or the other, and I don’t want either one to be our next governor. And maybe you don’t either.

Here’s a way to approach our common dilemma. Think big picture. Frenzied campaigning has gone on all across America to win the hearts and minds of voters who think their local race is the important one while who becomes governor of Illinois doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Does anyone planning a trip to Paris really care who’s president of France? Paris is Paris. And Illinois is Illinois. Neither Quinn nor Rauner will save our state and neither one will ruin it because big institutions like our state stumble along continuing to be what they are.

I don’t recommend what the hell difference does it make? as a guide to good citizenship, but now and then it helps get us past an impossible dilemma. And dilemma is the right word for it. I was thinking Hobson’s choice, but it turns out that’s an attractive choice that turns out to be no choice at all. Like, for example, being told you can go see either the Cubs or White Sox on your birthday except the Cubs are out of town. If it’s a dilemma, both teams are in town but they’re both going to lose 100 games this year and what you wish you could do is stay home.

The case my friends make for voting for Quinn is that a vote for Rauner is unthinkable. But it isn’t unthinkable. If he wins he wins, and then he sits down for coffee with Mike Madigan.