Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th century Florentine philosopher, wrote in his political masterpiece "The Prince," "if evils are anticipated they can easily be remedied but if you wait till they come to you the remedy is too late."
As much as I respect and yes revere Senor Machiavelli, I must disagree with the last part of his quote. Given the ongoing dismal state of Illinois politics it is never too late to engage in "evil remedy."
Evil One: Early voting
Republican state Sen. Kirk Dillard would most likely be the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee if not for early voting. His narrow 193 vote loss to fellow state Sen. Bill Brady was due in large part to his fellow DuPage County resident Bob Schillerstrom's dropping out of the race late in the campaign. Those citizens who cast ballots for Schillerstrom during early voting before he dropped simply wasted their franchise.
A significant chunk of Schillerstrom votes (at least 194) would have gone to Dillard.
My rant against early voting goes beyond our recent primary. It goes to the heart and soul of this democratic republic.
We as a nation have gone soft on the most cherished of our freedoms: the vote. No right in this nation's history has been expended more greatly than the right to vote.
Gender, race, age or property holdings are no longer voting hindrances for American citizens. Yet, we find excuses to avoid voting and in doing so force public officials to expand the process beyond all reason.
There is something magical about Election Day. The sociocultural experience of free citizens going to polling places to nominate or elect their leaders who will both guide their public policies and tax their pocketbooks should not be diluted.
Call it a sense of community or sharing a common purpose, this day should be one where average citizens rededicate their faith in our democracy.
Instead we hear the following:
• I do not have time;
• The lines are too long or,
• They're all a bunch of politicians and it does not matter.
To all three excuses I have a one word answer: Nonsense! Given the new voting machines, casting a ballot is done easily in less than five minutes. Since few people vote, there are no lines and yes, Virginia, people running for office are called politicians just like people who practice medicine are called doctors.
Lastly, and perhaps most upsetting to me, is that this citizen apathy has allowed political dialogue and perhaps patriotism itself to be "hijacked" by a bunch of right-wing and left-wing loonies.
Some are carnival barkers posing as media commentators. Others are bloggers who can say anything and often do.
Eliminating early voting would be a small but vital step in reminding citizens about the responsibilities of living in a democracy.
So much needs to be said and done about upgrading our political climate, especially in the area of campaign finance laws, but I will leave that for another day.
Evil Two: Nominating a lieutenant governor
The Illinois House has just passed a law requiring gubernatorial candidates to select a lieutenant governor running mate and run as a team in their party's primary.
This bill still must pass the Senate and be signed by the governor. But if all goes well we would have one less evil to worry about.
Why? Does anyone out there believe that, given the ability to select an lieutenant governor running mate, Republican candidate Bill Brady would have picked Jason Plummer or Pat Quinn would have selected Scott Lee Cohen?
• Paul Green is Director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University in Chicago and Schaumburg.