Ignorance isn�t bliss

The Madison County Record Oct. 21, 2004, 11:14am

Remember the good old days when candidates for public office made their case to the people in person at the town square?

Remember when they personally hand wrote their own detailed policy statements to be published in the local newspaper? And voters diligently read them, assessing the relative merits of each before choosing their candidate?

Remember when they didn’t need a staff of ‘handlers’ or TV commercials? When esteemed, objective journalists refused to cover anything but the real issues?

Remember when campaigns didn’t have to raise so much money to get their message out?

Of course you don’t.

Like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, the myth of the idyllic, issue-rich, “money free” political campaign never seems to die.

And here we sit, one week away from the “most expensive” Supreme Court campaign in Illinois history—that’s since the last one and until the next one-- and the political drama queens who perpetuate it remain out in force.

Issues? Schmissues? This race is about the “millions”!

Last week, while lamenting the usual political roughhousing in Illinois’ Lloyd Karmeier v. Gordon Maag judicial battle royale, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch almost casually made an accusation as serious as they come.

“Big money is trying to buy the Supreme Court, “ the paper opined.

We checked the campaign filings of both Karmeier and Maag and we saw contributions from neither Aristotle Onassis nor any known member of the Trilateral Commission.

A cursory review of October TiVo records did indicate a potentially inspirational cable TV re-run of John Grisham’s ‘The Pelican Brief,’ but we won’t jump to conclusions.

Of course, “big money” is flowing into the race for 5th District Supreme Court. But it’s doing so because the status quo is finally being challenged.

The result is a healthy, much-needed debate between plaintiff’s attorneys and a united front of doctors, hospitals, and businesses who are finally putting up a fight. We think that’s a good thing.

Any hysteria about “millions” makes the dubious suggestion that we voters would all be better off if this Supreme Court campaign were “big money” free.

So we’ll take the lead on asking the question.

Would we?

That is, would Southern Illinois be better served if Judges Karmeier and Maag spent little or no money on their campaigns?

No TV or radio commercials. No direct mail. No billboards.

Wow. Things just got quiet. Which begs another question.

Would we all be better off if we simply didn’t know that Karmeier and Maag—two men running for a vacancy on Illinois’ highest court-- were running at all?

What you don’t know cannot hurt you, right?


We say follow the cash, don’t blame it. The money-phobes should be careful what they wish for.

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