Skip to main content

The Politics of Feeling Good

It's 2011, which means it's been ten years since the last political re-districting at the local, county, state and national level. Which means that it's occurring all over again this year. Actually, the new maps for Champaign County and the state of Illinois are already done -- approved by vote and, in the case of the state, signed by Governor Quinn. Democratic majorities should be safe. Some folks aren't happy about it. Fair enough. Color me unmoved.

See, I have more of an all-encompassing view of the whole re-districting/gerrymandering thing, call it what you will. The elephant in the room here is who votes, and how. No one likes to throw the spotlight of blame (or partial-blame) onto the voters but, let's face it, it does belong there to an extent. The majority of voters typically follow a pattern. They tend to either vote Democrat or Republican. Or Green, in certain cases. A small number of voters are what pundits and talking heads love to label as "swing voters." Ok, so, we've got that all set.

The problem with attacking the re-districting efforts at the political level is that it only addresses part of the problem. The other part -- the major part -- is that of voters who are so predictable. In other words: why does no one ever ask the obvious question of why politicians are so easily able to gerrymander? The answer, of course: predictable voters. Now, I don't necessarily blame people for generally voting for members of the same political party. I, after all, tend to vote for Democratic candidates 80-90% of the time. I'm one of the  (many) predictable ones. Now, does this make it right that politicians exploit such predictability? No. But it does mean that we, as voters, share part of the blame.

Whether we're talking about Republican strongholds like St. Joseph, IL, or Democratic bastions like Urbana, IL, the fact remains that you're not going to be able to draw compact and contiguous competitive political districts within those areas. And that's because the vast majority of St. Joseph voters will vote for a GOP candidate, and the vast majority of Urbana voters will vote for a Democratic candidate. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

So, fellow voters, I offer you this ultimatum: You can throw the blame for re-districting onto the politicians, shake your fists defiantly in the air, and absolve yourselves of blame. But that won't really change anything. Instead, you could consider expanding the 'swing-voter' pool. Free your mind, and ignore the party labels behind the candidates' names. Don't make it so easy for the folks who do the mapping to know who you are, and how you vote. Of course, a lot of this depends on the quality, viewpoints and positions of the candidates. We as voters can't be expected to chuck our principles out the window for the sake of appearing flexible.

And that's a post for another day.


Popular posts from this blog


Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....

1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night

It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …


"Step out from the mask you stand behind Fearful lost and blind Time to take the time The pressure’s on you Hide away, hide away No tomorrow, just today"
- Brilliant, Ultravox
Today was National Coming Out Day, so of course it gives some pause for reflection on my own coming out story. It was in April 1993, my junior year of high school (go Chargers!). In the six years of writing this blog, I have alluded to how I came out, but never really delved into the intricacies of how it came about. What better day to do so than today?
My first (small) indications of homosexuality manifested in grade school. While in first grade, I thought a fifth grader looked cute. In fifth grade, I would stare, longingly, at a boy in class, until he caught me looking at him. There were some infatuations with boys in middle school, and a first sexual experience during freshman year of high school. Everything up to that point had been, for the most part, based in the physical realm. I liked the way certain…