We citizens have traditionally trusted the political elites to look after our interests, to guide the ship of state, to ensure against financial or other catastrophe. To be sure, there have been as many scoundrels as statesmen in public life but on balance things have been run in a reasonable manner.

That no longer seems to be the case. Rarely in recent history have the elites been so totally invested in their own enrichment and in the perpetuation of their own power to the detriment of the public interest. The failure of responsibility at the national level is staggering. The U.S. Comptroller General estimates that the country’s long-term liabilities and unfunded obligations increased from $20 trillion to $46 trillion in just the last five years. That makes each household responsible for $411,000 (see www.gao.gov/cghome/d06990cg.pdf).

Our governor has successfully put the state’s moment of financial reckoning off until he is out of office. Nor does the other half of the two-party combine that runs Illinois hold out much hope for change.

My vote this fall will be for two Green Party candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, Rich Whitney and Oak Park’s own Julie Samuels. Nelson Helsabeck is running for state representative in the 8th District, which covers Oak Park south of the Eisenhower expressway. Their ideas (www.whitneyforgov.org) include:

  • Combating global warming, cleaning up our environment, cutting soaring energy prices, and creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the process;
  • Knocking down property taxes and making our tax system more fair and equitable;
  • Dealing with our state budget crisis, getting adequate funds for our schools, paying our Medicaid bills on time, and funding state workers’ pensions.

The election of these officials in and of itself would invigorate the democratic process in the state.

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