What a bizarre primary Illinois just had. After the Chicago Tribune editors ran a series on the ’state of corruption’ urging voters in the strongest terms to grab their brooms and shovels, shoulder the sword, marshall their forces and get out the vote to clean up ‘politics as usual’ once and for all…….the primary went down with a record low turnout. With the majority of the voters staying home, what they said was “I don’t care”, which is equal to saying ‘let the status quo just be’…

You watch world politics shift and people’s revolutions rise against tyrants and fall under their iron fist, and you see people liberated after terror and oppression and finally get their first taste of democracy and risk their lives to come out and wait in long lines to raise their purple finger proudly after having their say in their first representative election ever. And maybe a lot of Americans….or in this case Illinoisans….are just too busy to pay attention to that or think much about it, but it sure affects me. Every single election is an opportunity to express faithful citizenship and exercise our collective responsibility to vote for representatives of the people who will govern one way or the other. News media like to use the term ‘values voters’ but everyone is a values voter. It just depends on which set of values you want making laws and social policy.

The pro-life voters of Illinois were probably the most actively engaged in that primary, but there were a number of pro-life candidates on the Republican and so their vote was split enough to leave the race for governor in that party still up in the air the morning after the election. Combine the votes for candidates with conservative values and clearly those voters came out and spoke in the greatest force. But it didn’t get the pro-life Republican the victory in the race for Barack Obama’s Senate seat in November.

However, the apathy vote did get the Democrats the candidate most allegedly tied to scandal and corruption, the one who started his political career with help from Barack Obama, with ties to some of the same high profile figures as Barack Obama. So much for the Trib’s crusade for reform…

It’s early, and the mid-term election of 2010 is months away. Maybe that’s why so many citizens ignored yesterday’s primary. But Barack Obama began his campaign, brilliantly, years in advance, and methodically worked his way to ‘the highest office in the land.’ Anyone who complains today about politics or policies or problems, at least in this state, is a day late. And probably way more than a dollar short.

Elections have consequences. Everyone who wants to make real change in November had better get those brooms, shovels and swords out now.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....