COLUMN: Joe Parnarauskis: Hero to the self-righteous, no matter what

By Brian Pierce

Recently, Joe Parnarauskis, a member of the Socialist Equality Party, decided to campaign for state senate in this district, and I couldn’t be happier.

I used to think third party candidacies were futile, cult-driven efforts to enact change that only end up getting the least preferred candidate elected. Then I visited Parnarauskis’ Web site, and it opened my eyes to the light, the saintly, almost messianic light that radiates from Parnarauskis’ pores.

I can’t believe I’ve gone this long as a student of politics without realizing that there are no meaningful differences between Democrats and Republicans, that both are just corruptible pawns of the wealthy elite, destined to be unaccountable to the popular will unless some Man of the People rises up to do battle with these dark forces.

I really hope Parnarauskis does as well as can possibly be imagined. If he does, he’ll have convinced enough Democrats to vote for him that Democratic candidate Mike Frerichs loses the race to Republican Judy Myers. After all, the last state senate race – this being one of the most competitive districts in the state – was decided by a 620 vote margin, or 1 percent of the vote.

I used to support Frerichs. Now I realize his support for expanded health care, for a higher minimum wage and for more equitable education funding through income rather than property tax are really just illusions designed to blind me from the fact that he doesn’t care about the people of his district.

Frerichs’ plot was working pretty well on me until Parnarauskis made me aware of what was really the most important issue in this race: the war in Iraq.

Sure, it may seem deceptive and condescending for Parnarauskis to tell liberal college students that a war conducted entirely by the federal government is the most important issue in a local race. And if he is so committed to opposing the war in Iraq, it may make more sense for Parnarauskis to support David Gill, the anti-war Democrat running for the House of Representatives – a legislative body which, you know, actually votes on that sort of thing.

But that would require him to support a Democrat, and remember that stuff I said about the two parties being corrupt and identical? That goes the same for candidates who agree with Parnarauskis on almost everything.

Some might call me selfish. Some might say that while a carefree college student like myself can live a happy and self-satisfied life knowing that I voted my conscience, the people my decision affects the most – those members of our district who are unemployed or underpaid, those who are without health insurance, those who are unable to send their children to a quality school – get screwed with their pants on.

But to those people I say this: my conscience is more important than their lives. How else will I be able to show off my self-righteous resistance to conformity? After all, being self-righteous is the favorite pastime of third-party supporters. Yes, supporting Parnarauskis may bring irreparable harm to the district, but I get to feel good about myself. Isn’t that what’s really important?