1. our state legislature is a collection of ignorant, do-nothing boobs who'd rather protect their election prospects than actually get some work done. unfair characterization? perhaps. but when you have a budget crisis and only spend ONE frakking day during an emergency session at the capitol and you STILL haven't come to a resolution, then you're frakking useless and incompetent.
(i'm looking at y'all, governor quinn, speaker madigan, leaders cullerton, cross and radogno! swear to god, they all deserve a flaming bag of poo.)
2. when they're tired, elected officials can be alarmingly candid. from a GOP legislator: 'every organization in the state could call us but it still wouldn't matter. people who work in social services vote Democrat; people who use their services tend to vote Democrat. what's in it for us to go your way?' niiiiice. frakking useless.
3. the women i work with are awesome. for a month, i've been holed up in our 'situation' room, hammering out implementation strategies to save our agency with two other women who are, frankly, awesome. they're smart, feisty, no bullshit and when we disagree we always find a workable compromise. (i'm more for the 'scorched earth' strategy and they're more for the 'let's work this out' strategy.) we swing wildly from hope that all this work will bear fruit and we will successfully lobby our legislators to get off their asses to do the right thing to despair that everything we're doing still isn't enough to counteract the massive amount of apathy and partisan bullshit in Springfield. we are not pros at grassroots organizing but i find it amusing to see us suddenly adopting some of its practices.
our COO worked on the Obama campaign and she comes into the situation room at least a couple of times a day to give us some coaching, some encouragement and tell us stories from the campaign to inspire us - and it works. she rocks. i've already told her, 'when i lose my job, i will need your advice on what to do next and how to get in someone's office.'
she said, 'when folks hear you're on the market, you won't need my help.'
if we're all laid off in the next week or so, we've all promised to convene regularly as Ladies of the Day - slightly bitter, exhausted, depressed, over-educated women who kick ass while being momentarily at loose ends.
4. the people who inhabit our political process are the worst things about it. this isn't some fake cynicism i'm trying to display here. this is what i've honestly seen during the past few months. i used to love watching politics; i loved the drama, the snark, the 'gotcha'-ness. but it's only when you connect the dots, and see that what happens in the political arena actually trickles down and materially impacts a life (or hundreds of thousands of lives,) that you realize the people we have elected have cheapened the whole process.
it's a wonderful thing when a farmer downstate can walk into his state rep's office and say his piece and that aide or rep will listen to him. this is the beauty of our state political machine. it really is that down home. (by the way, how many of y'all have visited the district office of your local rep?)
but there's another side to it that infuriates me. in Illinois, at issue is a now $9.2 billion deficit budget that the general assembly has chosen not to address. instead, at the end of the regular session it ignored its responsibility and chose to send a 50% lump sum budget to the governor that basically decimated all of human services. the budget solves nothing, except to put the governor in the uncomfortable position of signing a budget that will turn Illinois into Mississippi.
here's the infuriating part: they know that.
they know the 50% lump sum budget is a bad idea. they know it doesn't solve the deficit; they know that without revenue, the deficit gets worse, they know the impact of a decimated human services sector on their districts. they know there are structural problems that need to be fixed in this budget and still no one is making a move. for some reason, they think the veto session will bring a magical Resolution Fairy and then they'll find the money to solve the problem.
what they're really doing is keeping their eyes on the 2010 elections and hoping to do nothing that will endanger their seats.
ask each side what they're going to do about this crisis and they shrug and say the same thing. 'We have ideas,' they say. 'But the other guys don't want to hear them.'
they know the human collateral this budget will cause and they look at you without blinking and say, 'there's nothing i can do. you all will have to call my colleagues and convince them.'
at which point someone grabs my wrist and i clamp down on my tongue so i don't scream, 'Swinging your colleagues is YOUR FUCKING JOB! WHY CAN'T YOU DO YOUR FUCKING JOB?!'
this is an abdication of responsibility that is unacceptable. and i'm not talking about the GOP here, either. it's the Dems, too. they act like giving a Yes vote was the height of their duty. like voting Yes was a shining gift to the people of Illinois.
cynthia soto, my rep, was in a budget briefing last week the governor's office had invited us to and she stood up and said, 'I voted yes to raise revenue! I did my part! Now do your homework - it's your turn to make those calls to the No votes and get this thing turned around!'
i turned to the woman standing next to me and whispered, 'this is bullshit. what the fuck does she think we've been doing for the past month? when is she going to get off her ass and do her fucking job?'
the woman whispered, 'unbelievable, isn't it?'
you wanna give us a gift, elected officials of Illinois?
we, the people of Illinois, would love to see you take your jobs seriously and work as hard as we do. really. we would. earn your paycheck, you apathetic motherfuckers.