Isaac “Ike” Carothers used to be a Chicago alderman until he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from a developer seeking a zoning change. Ironically, his father, William, was convicted on similar charges three decades earlier when he served as an alderman in the same part of Chicago.
Carothers is on the ballot again–this time he is running for an open seat on the Cook County Board. As the ex-con enjoys by far the biggest name recognition of the five candidates for that office, Carothers stands a good chance of winning in this month’s Democratic Primary, which will again make the Land of Lincoln a nationwide embarrassment, because in this heavily Democratic district, the general election will serve as a coronation.
In 2012, voters chose to send Derrick Smith, another Chicago Democrat, back to Springfield even though he was under indictment on bribery charges and had been expelled that summer from the state House of Representatives. An independent candidate was chosen by local pols to run against Smith in the heavily Democratic district–but Smith won easily anyway.
Smith, who is still awaiting trial, is on the ballot again this spring, but this time Democratic Party bosses are backing him.
Not so with Carothers. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle held a joint press conference where they declared their support for Emanuel’s former political director.
Oh, I almost forgot. While state law prevents Carothers from running for a Chicago City Council seat, he can run for other offices, including US Congress.
This ignominy troubles the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn, a liberal, who is calling for what he calls “Ike’s Law,” which would prevent ex-cons running for any public office in Illinois. That’s a great idea.
In a column last week, Zorn wrote of down-ballot offices, “But in races for smaller offices, voters will be less well-informed.”
Zorn moves on from there, but in that sentence he hit at the core of the problem as to why Ike’s Law is needed. What Rush Limbaugh dubs “low-information voters” are a key constituency of the Democratic Party. Generations of party and labor bosses have drummed into their followers these two words: “Vote Democratic.” Added by, “Just listen to us–only listen to us.”
And the problem low-info voters extends beyond Illinois. At an Occupy Milwaukee rally two years ago, I watched in disgust as Gilbert Johnson, an AFSCME local president remark about the Tea Party, “What you have is a bunch of haters, people that tell lies, people that want to go back to the ’50s. White man rule. White man only.”
I’m pretty sure that hate-speech–by Johnson and others–was parroted by other union bosses across the nation during the 2012 campaign. And by precinct captains and even preachers at rallies of all kinds–not just Occupy gatherings.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said on the floor of the Senate last week to “turn off the Fox News” so people can only hear her version of the truth about ObamaCare.
Also last week, in a speech to political supporters, Obama called on them to reach out to Republicans “who watch the wrong newscast.”
If the low-information in voters in Illinois start watching “the wrong newscast” or researching issues on their own instead of listening to ward-heelers, community organizers, and demagogues, the presence of Ike Carothers on a ballot would be good for one thing–a plethora of chuckles.
But the Democratic Party needs those low-info voters. And shame on Zorn, a nice fella by the way, for leaving that crucial fact out of his column.
Oh, imagine that–a president making choices about the “right” or “wrong” newscast.
How far we have fallen as a people.