Who to Vote For? None of the Above

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2014-11-04 – By the time you read this, some of the polls on the east coast may be closed or close to it. Here in Chicago, we’ll have another hour and a half. The deed is done (or almost), but no results are in yet. But I have a prediction that I would put money on.

Regardless of your politics, you are going to be pissed off at the results. At least some of them.

Eight years ago, I wrote an op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune called Whom to vote for? None of the above. (I didn’t write “Whom.” That was the idea of some Tribune copyeditor or headline writer who had the mistaken belief that “Who” was incorrect.  Steven Pinker, in his new book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, wrote“Only the stuffiest prig would use whom to begin a short question.”)

In my Trib piece, I advocated that we add a none-of-the-above (NOA, pronounced no way!) choice to each election race. The idea was that, if NOA attracted the most votes, the election for that race would be redone with new candidates. The NOA candidates would be kept out of the redo because the voters will have rejected them by voting none-of-the-above.

I predicted that such a change would force candidates into more positive campaigns. Raising an opponent’s negatives wouldn’t have much of a payoff, particularly since the opponent would be working diligently to raise your negatives. The electorate could just vote none-of-the-above and kick those bums out of contention altogether.

Here it is eight years later and one more Illinois governor has gone to jail.. Four years ago, the US Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case, which unleased billions in corporate money to “buy” elections. How is this money spent? Not by supporting positive information about the preferred candidates. It’s almost entirely negative.

Am I not right? Regardless of what side you are on, you have to agree. And that’s why you are going to be pissed off when the results come in.

So. How do we combat this. Efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to overrule Citizens United are going nowhere. But what if we could coax our legislators to add none-of-the-above to the ballot? It’s just a thought.

In Chicago, we vote for judges. There must be hundreds of them. Some of them are contested races. Some are for retention only. It’s an idiotic system designed to create an illusion of democracy. They all win. Year after year. It’s the folks who slate these people who decide who our judges are—and who knows who does that (or would that be “whom knows whom does that”)?

My protest vote is to vote No for every single one of them. So far, that’s as close as I get to none-of-the-above.

The point is that, without NOA, our election system is just an illusion of democracy.

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