Monday, October 24th, 2016

Candidates in sheep’s clothing


It was hard to listen to the Democrats’ preening about the “fake” Democratic candidates being run by Republicans in the upcoming senate recall elections to force primaries. It was hard to listen to Democratic protests of being virgin pure defenders of democracy even as the Democratic members of the State Senate still have receipts from the “no-tell motels” in Illinois stuffed in their pockets.

Yet for all of the Democratic complaining about Republicans manipulating the election process, the Democrats have now announced that they are planning on manipulating the process, too. Whereas Republicans were running “protest candidates,” Republicans running as Democrats, to force a primary, the Democrats are running “placeholders,” Democratic non-candidates filling a spot on the ballot just to force a primary.

The “placeholders” for the Democrats will secure a spot on the ballot but not actually campaign, according to Mike Tate, the chairman of the Democratic Party.  The difference, we’re told, is that the Democrats will run as Democrats, and that the plan is being announced in advance. These really are distinctions without much substance.

After all, the aim is still to try to find a partisan advantage in the scheduling of an election, and to accomplish it by running “fake” candidates, as “fake” as any extra candidates being run by the Republicans.

As for the pretended “above board” nature of this, so what?  The Republican plan is well known, and credit for it was claimed by State Senator Scott Fitzgerald.  The motives and methods are equally transparent.

Which leaves the Democrats claiming in their press release the Republicans did it first, and that justifies their actions. “This approach will keep the Republicans honest – an increasingly difficult task given the stunts they’ve pulled.”

Given the childishness of the current Democratic chairman, it’s not surprising that he would use “they started it” as an excuse. Of course, Tate is ignoring his own party’s role in the Ziegelbauer race last year. Republicans, too can claim Democrats “started it.” But what does it matter?  Congratulations. Both sides are wrong, and the Democrats have just succeeded in reminding us of the sordid role they play in these recall elections.

After all, the recall elections themselves have nothing to do with restoring any standards to the legislature. If the Democrats were interested in all in upholding standards of conduct, they would have voted to remove State Representative Jeff Wood last year instead of cynically clinging to him in case they needed his vote. They even popped Wood from jail last year for his vote in a failed effort to protect the state employee unions.

No, the Democratic efforts to force a recall are all about power, and their desperate pursuit of regaining it since the election of last November. They’re using a single vote on a single bill as their lever.

It doesn’t matter that their state senators abandoned their responsibilities and fled the state rather than vote on the budget fix bill. It doesn’t matter that the Democrats are far more worthy of being recalled.  They want the state senate back, and they will use any means of manipulating the recall process they can.

Anything the Democrats can do to try to stop the Republicans from redistricting and curbing the power of the state employee unions is justified in their eyes, no matter how destructive it is to the democratic process. So they see no shame in copying the Republicans’ efforts to postpone the recall elections, and they’re counting on their allies in the media to enforce a double standard to give them cover.

The next time Democrats chant, “shame, shame, shame,” they need to be looking in the mirror.

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