To progressives re: 2014 Illinois election results

quinnrauner_7First, let me say: I wouldn’t in any way want to disrespect those who are disheartened by the Rauner victory, especially if they are disheartened out of a genuine concern for the people. I would, in fact, join hands with you in an immediate all out effort to prevent Bruce Rauner from taking power.

After all, it is my opinion that election-buying Wall Street aristocrats like Rauner must be stripped of their great power over society if we are going to have real peace and justice for all. He and his kind certainly should not be allowed to govern in the people’s name.

More important than the governor’s race to me: In non-binding referendums, Illinois voted 66 to 33 percent to raise the minimum wage, 63 to 36 percent in favor of raising taxes on the rich to pay for education and 65 to 34 percent to protect the state’s law mandating that insurance companies must cover birth control. These votes were not even close—an extremely progressive and definitive statement from the people.

As for the race for governor, I must say that Rauner getting elected doesn’t worry me. Not in the slightest.

Nothing fundamental has changed. The sky is not falling. From shore to shore, the war on workers and poor people is being pursued by both parties of big-business. The core of the resistance to their schemes is in the streets—not in the elections and absolutely not to be found in the state houses of government.

The war over the future of Illinois will take a different shape with Rauner as governor—that’s true. It’s always possible that the tactics of a new head of state will be more severe. But there’s no reason to think we have less chance of winning under Rauner. Independent, militant struggle—like the Chicago teachers strike and the wave of strikes for a living wage—is the only road to real victories. If the teachers can beat Rahm, if we can thrust the fight for living wages to center stage here in the heart of world finance, we can surely beat Bruce in the arena of everyday struggle.

Quinn and Rauner are both thieves

I’m also not sad at Quinn’s defeat. Why would I be?

Let’s remember. Quinn mercilessly slashed pensions, education and health care while giving massive handouts to Wall Street. He stood idle as 75 percent of major corporations headquartered in the state paid no taxes to the state. Instead of pursuing Fortune 500 tax dodgers, he raised our taxes!

Quinn robbed us of many of the things we need to live a decent life. He’s a thief. A legal thief, yes, but a real life thief none-the-less. A thief who took medicine out of the mouths of the sick and school books out of the hands of children.

Here’s a real eye-opener to make my point as clear as possible: Democrat-dominated Springfield did not pass a raise to the state’s minimum wage or raise taxes on the rich before the election even though these widely popular measures would have greatly aided them in their effort to hold the state’s top post. In fact, minimum wage legislation was never seriously considered even though it could have greatly increased the popularity of Governor Quinn.

That’s right. This what I’m saying: the Democrats would rather someone like Rauner take power than side with the people. Even though polls showed that as much as 75 percent of the population is for raising the minimum wage, Governor Quinn, in very real danger of losing his job, refused to pull the trigger to save his job. Why would he refuse to go all out for minimum wage? Because like the governor of any of the 50 states in the United States he has one function that trumps all others: his job requires him to protect and serve the interests of the rich above the needs of the population.

One way of the looking at the 2014 election is very plain: the people demand action and not some politician’s empty promises. That’s why voter turnout was 36 percent in Chicago and 39 percent in Illinois.

Quinn was rejected, not because people are unready for progressive change, but based on the fact that Quinn did not deliver. If people are looking for someone to blame for Rauner’s victory, they should not be blaming people who are trying to make ends meet in difficult times. They should be looking squarely at Quinn for not delivering the concrete things that people, especially the poorest among us, need to live a decent life in the richest country in the history of the world.

Even after considering all of the sins of Quinn, you might object to my position, saying something like: Quinn signed same-sex marriage into law.  That’s true, he did. But this form of LGBTQ equality in Illinois came as a result of decades of struggle against both Democratic and Republican politicians in a deeply “blue” state. LGBTQ equality in Illinois, a Democrat-dominated state for as long as anyone can really remember, does not mean that electing democrats is the path to victory. It means that independent struggle is the path to victory.

If electing Democrats meant anything substantial, than this country would be a whole lot different under their rule than it actually is. The Democrats and Republicans are carrying out a deeply right-wing program that includes slashing food stamps, destroying public education and spending trillions of dollars on world domination.

The Nov. 4 vote in Illinois tells us something much more important than which candidate will be waging austerity on us from the governor’s mansion for the next four years. The people of Illinois are fed up and they sent an undeniable message to the halls of power. They are demanding a larger share of the pie.

The elections results show—remember the results of the non-binding referendums—that people went to the polls in the hope that casting a vote would improve their economic situation. This crystal clear fact means that a much needed mass movement to defeat the war on working people and the poor is possible. I’ll take that over a victory for pension-stealing, education-slashing, health care-cutting Quinn any day of any year.

The Illinois vote means, emphatically, that it is time to go on the offensive—a real street offensive—to win a $15/hr minimum wage, funding for an equal education system and much more. We must not wait one more minute. We must call the workers into the streets to wage war against Wall Street and their henchmen in both ruling parties. Raising the level of independent organization and struggle is what’s need now, much, much more than any Democratic victory in the big-business dominated elections.

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