Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-06-24
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Writing For Justice: Does voting actually matter?
A recurring column
by Caroline Siede
2015-03-11

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


How you answer that question probably comes down to how old you are, how cynical you are, and how much government corruption you've experienced over the years.

It's easy to feel like one vote has little impact on the massive political machine. Perhaps that's why only about 34 percent of Chicago's registered voters participated in February's mayoral election ( potentially one of the lowest voter turnouts in the city's history ). But if there's one thing that recent election taught us, it's that a single vote ( or at least a handful of them ) can actually make a difference.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to win the 50 percent majority he needed to secure his reelection by a mere five percent. He'll now face Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in a run-off election April 7. And no matter who you voted for in the election ( if you did ) this feels like a big win for the democratic process.

By all accounts Emanuel should have won the election easily. He had both a multi-million dollar campaign and the power of President Obama behind him. But as Garcia amassed grassroots support, he quickly became a viable option for those dissatisfied with Emanuel's first term in office. And that's ultimately a good thing. Even Emanuel's supporters can appreciate that the Mayor must now think critically about his time in office. Humility and self-assessment should be a regular part of politics; this run-off ensures they will be, at least for a while.

It's easy to think of voting as an annoying obligation. Figuring out which ward you live in, reading up on aldermanic positions, and traipsing out to a polling place in the middle of winter aren't the most fun ways to spend a Tuesday. But even a cursory glance at American history reminds us that voting is a hard-fought right we shouldn't take lightly.

That's the big take away from Ava DuVernay's phenomenal film Selma, which reminds us that only 50 years ago American citizens were killed simply for asking for the right to vote. Although Black ( male ) suffrage was legally guaranteed by the 15th Amendment in 1870, voter discrimination ran rampant in the Jim Crow south for decades until civil-rights activists drew attention to the cause and Lyndon B. Johnson finally passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. That violent historical struggle stands in sharp contrast to Chicagoans who cited "long lines" or "cold weather" as the reason they didn't vote in February.

And the Selma marches are just a small part of the struggle for voting rights in America. In 1919, women finally earned the right to vote after years of campaigning for suffrage. In 1971, young people successfully petitioned to have the voting age lowered from 21 to 18, reasoning that if young men were required to fight in Vietnam, they should at least have a political voice too. Indeed our entire country was founded on the desire for fair political representation, exemplified in the call for "No taxation without representation."

If there's one aspect of American history I find most inspiring, it's our country's ability to change. Even the Founding Fathers—who owned slaves and denied equal rights for women—realized that cultural values aren't absolute, and they created mechanisms for peaceful political evolution. The constitutional amendment process they put in place would later be used to free slaves, give women the right vote, and grant young people a political voice.

Whether or not you think we need a change this election season, I encourage every Chicagoan to make his or her voices heard in April. ( The voter registration grace period ends April 4. ) Even if you feel the outcome of the election is predetermined, your vote will determine by what percent the candidate wins. And symbolic statements make waves too. The recent run-off election garnered national headlines and sparked discussions about Chicago politics. That wouldn't have happened if Emanuel had won in a landslide.

So educate yourself on the positions of both Emanuel and Garcia. Look at their experience, their history of public service, and the criticism lodged against them. Find out if the candidates have strong policies on LGBT rights, if they support an ordinance demanding reparations for survivors of police torture, where they stand on red light cameras, and how they plan to strengthen Chicago's economy. And most importantly, get out there and vote April 7. Because yes, we can make a difference. In fact, it's our Constitutional right to do so.

Caroline Siede is a freelance writer living in Chicago where the cold never bothers her anyway. You can also find her work on The A.V. Club and Boing Boing.


facebook twitter google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Morrison and Preckwinkle host online LGBTQ health forum 2020-07-05 - Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison and Board President Toni Preckwinkle were joined by advocates from three local organizations for a conversation about LGBTQ ...


Gay News

Experts weigh impact of judiciary on LGBTQ rights 2020-07-02 - A panel consisting of prominent legal and public policy officials met June 23 to discuss recent developments in LGBTQ legal advocacy, particularly as ...


Gay News

LGBTQ activists, leaders respond to police meeting 2020-07-02 - A Chicago Police Department off-the-record Zoom meeting June 30 with hand-picked leaders from LGBTQ organizations and new CPD Superintendent David Brown resulted in ...


Gay News

State law takes effect to strengthen Illinois workplace non-discrimination 2020-07-01 - Illinois' foundational civil rights law will now protect more workers from discrimination as a new statute to strengthen the Illinois Human Rights Act's ...


Gay News

Gov. Pritzker issues Pride proclamation 2020-07-01 - On June 30, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker marked Pride Month with a statement of celebration. "Thanks to the tireless help of advocates and ...


Gay News

21st Ward holds own Pride event 2020-07-01 - Chicago's 21st Ward—an area on the city's South Side that includes neighborhoods such as parts of Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, Gresham, Chatham and ...


Gay News

LETTER Standing up against racism 2020-06-27 - Dear community: June is Pride Month. Over 50 years ago, on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar ...


Gay News

LETTER: The U.S. Census important to LGBTQ community political, economic power 2020-06-27 - We've all seen the messaging about the Census and many of us might just wonder whether completing it truly makes a difference. ...


Gay News

Lambda files suit over Trump anti-trans policies 2020-06-26 - Lambda Legal announced June 22 that it is suing the federal government over rollbacks the Trump administration announced June 12 to protections against ...


Gay News

Assistance available to businesses affected by civil unrest 2020-06-26 - Illinois businesses and residents affected by civil unrest on May 26 through June 8 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.