#389: Voodoo Governance

October 22nd, 2014

It’s a music venue. Bars on upper and lower levels, food for those who want it. Dark wood, concert posters and great acoustics, the latter so you can hear the band

It wasn’t a band that filled Lincoln Hall on Monday, but witches and warlocks, practitioners of a Halloween-time black magic more powerful than hexes and newt-eyes.

The crowd was there to see the practitioners of the dark art of politics.

As part of the similarly named Chicago Public Radio series, WBEZ’s Alex Keefe hosted the special event. In it, members and their guests could get to know the people who take the airwaves in October to warn of death, dismay and despair – but only if you vote for the other guy.

This is where politics gets nasty.

“He said, ‘The American people are too smart to fall for that,’” Democratic operative Kitty Kurth said, recalling the words Michael Dukakis told her after seeing the Willie Horton attack ad for the first time. “Well. You showed him.”

“He said, ‘If I see you again, it’ll be the last time,’” Republican political operative John Pearman said, recalling what a mob boss said after Pearman tracked him down at his son’s football practice to dig up dirt on Rod Blagojevich.

“I’ve dived through Dumpsters,” operative Kevin Lampe said.

These are the people who dig the dirt, who find the Willie Hortons, the Donna Rices, the massive scandals and the small but damning voting inconsistencies that make it into the attack ads no one claims to like but everyone votes by.

Bill Price and Wandachristine are the ones who bring those words to life.

Voice actors both, the two have carved out sidelines as the voices of political ads. Price and Wandachristine (one word, she chided Keefe after her real, non-stage name appeared on the projector) glided effortlessly from voices ringing with hope and clarity to sneering disbelief that such and such candidate says he loves America, but let’s look at the facts.

There’s an election Nov. 4.

It’s an election where two lackluster candidates will face off for a tarnished governorship. It’s an election where the mayor’s cronies packed the three referenda spots with bullshit questions so the people can’t say they want to be able to vote for their school board.

It’s an election where races will go unchallenged, where slated candidates will get rubberstamped by voters who don’t know what “slated” means and where judgeships get picked by whimsy and how Irish the candidates’ names sound.

And these fucks muddy the waters. And these public servants get people to care.

I can’t figure out which one is correct.

There is good in this crowd. In a quote projected overhead before the show, Wandachristine talked about how important it was as a black woman that she used her voice to encourage people to vote, a right her forebears did not have. During his talk, Pearman said he wanting people to get so involved his research wasn’t necessary.

But the political operatives talked with awe about LBJ’s “Daisy” ad, where a little girl picking petals off a flower is eviscerated by nuclear holocaust because, it is implied, someone voted for Barry Goldwater.

There was good and bad, patriotism and cynicism. These are the people who play politics with a knife. They’re real, they’re not going anywhere and, thanks to WBEZ, we now know them a little more.

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Start the WBEZ series

Watch the “Daisy” ad

Meet Wandachristine, Kitty Kurth and Kevin Lampe

Read about a very depressing voter turnout

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