It gets kind of ridiculous after a while.
For a month or so, every other day there was a new story about somebody announcing a run for president or Congress. Sure, some of them were obscure names you’d never heard before, or their policies seemed a little outlandish, but the wrong reaction is to roll your eyes and think that it is a bad thing. In fact, the chaos probably is what our democracy needs.
When state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said Tuesday that she, too, was gunning for U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, in the Illinois 14th Congressional District, she joined a pack of no fewer than five Republicans seeking the nomination, and a few others still are mulling over the decision.
More candidates mean more choices, and aren’t more choices better for the rest of us? It’s the principle behind Cold War presidents hosting Soviet Premiers at grocery stores when they came to visit: Look at all the options capitalism and the free market provide us for ice cream, eggs, bagels and lunch meats.
I want the same variety when I’m picking my government representatives, and real choices. I’m tired of seats being uncontested or the opposition party throwing up token resistance.
In the 14th, Republican primary voters will have choices to make, and the candidates will be forced to differentiate themselves and find out what voters want and focus on the real issues that the people in the district care about. Competition is supposed to improve things, right?
Next door, in the 16th district, Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, hasn’t had a primary opponent since 2014 and ran essentially unopposed in 2016, with the Democrats declining to run anybody against him and only a write-in candidate who received fewer than 200 votes.
Was Kinzinger going to win that race regardless? Probably. Despite opposition from both the left and the right, he sails through his elections. But it’s not an election if there isn’t an opponent; it’s an investiture.
Efficient government is a good goal. Done well, it saves time and money for the taxpayers. Efficient elections, however, are another matter and something to be avoided.
For candidates, the process should be long, grueling, crowded and maddening. The people asking to represent you should not have an easy path and, ideally, should have to fight for our vote every step of the way. Every incumbent should face a primary challengers every time they are up for reelection.
There should be independents running in every race. Even if their shot is a long one, they bring new ideas and force established parties to change, grow and evolve.
For voters, the choice should be difficult and require critical thinking over a long period of time. In a perfect universe, it should be an agonizing decision because everyone presented before you is so qualified. But the act of voting itself should be the most convenient thing in the world. As easy as Amazon makes it to accidentally buy a dozen mechanical pencils when you scroll while sleeping, we can make voting just as easy and accessible.
If more people run for office, there were will be a greater variety of of ideas at a time when we definitely need them. I’d even be willing to include the outlandish ones, as the price of admission. But we need to make sure every seat is earned, and make our representatives for work the title.
• Kevin Solari is the managing editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at email@example.com.