Friday, February 12, 2010

Too conservative for “urban” Illinois? That’s what Dems want to think of Brady

With two-thirds of Illinois residents living in the Chicago metro area and another 8 percent coming from the St. Louis Metro East area, we literally get nearly three-quarters of the state’s population being people who think of themselves as “urban” residents.

Democratic campaigns for political office come the November general elections are desperately counting on that fact to stave off the fact that Republican voters (according to various polls) seem more excited about being able to cast ballots this year than do Dems.

THAT WAS WHAT popped into my head when I read recent reports coming from the GOP’s likely gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady (nothing will be official until next month). The Chicago Sun-Times devoted a few inches of space Thursday to letting us know some of Brady’s thoughts for the future.

They highlighted gay marriage, knowing that such a headline would capture attention. Brady, it seems, wants the Illinois Constitution amended so as to make marriage between non-hetero couples illegal, and he also wants to do away with the concept of “civil unions.”

This story is going to be repeated many times in coming months in places where the populace is more accepting of gay couples, as a way of trying to make Brady come off as too isolated in his home region (although his hometown of Bloomington is one of the few communities to have local ordinances offering civil rights protections for gay people) to understand the concerns of all of Illinois.

Now when trying to discuss this issue intelligently, it is important to realize that intelligence really is not a factor here.

STATEMENTS LIKE THESE are more about causing a visceral reaction amongst certain voters. In this case, Brady wants the more rural portions of the state to think of him as the candidate who will stick up for their way of thinking. I don’t think he expects to sway anyone’s thoughts about who they will vote for.

He’s trying to give people that nominally should be in his camp all the more reason to get enthused about turning out to vote on Election Day (or sooner, if they use an early voting center come October).

For the law in Illinois has always been clear that marriage is legal between hetero-sexual couples. In fact, back in the mid-1990s era when the Republican Party had a domination over state government, they passed laws making the issue all the more clear that non-heterosexual marriage is NOT acceptable in Illinois.

In theory, writing it into the state’s constitution would make it harder for a future Legislature to make any kind of change in this issue – even if the sentiment of the future continues to change and the people who become vehemently opposed to gay couples having the same legal rights of marriage as other couples become more and more outside the mainstream of our 21st Century society.


There are many Southern states that wrote segregationist principles into their state constitutions, which made the effort to get with the program in the late 20th Century with regards to civil rights and African-American people all the more complicated – and sometimes still confuses things whenever antiquated ordinances are discovered to still remain on the books.

I’d hate to think Brady wants to get Illinois bogged down in some future legal mess. I honestly believe he’s just trying to sew up a part of the conservative voter base that Republicans rely upon.

But that also will hurt him with regards to the rest of the state, which has turned solidly Democrat in the past two decades because those suburban areas that used to see the Republican Party as their defense mechanism against Democratic Chicago now identify themselves more with the city than they do the rural portions of the state that the GOP seems more concerned with these days.

THERE ARE MANY people who view this issue like I do – as a matter of butting out of someone else’s private business (which is what many conservative Republicans claim they stand for, at times).

So is this story going to be one we’re going to hear many allusions to in coming months?

Particularly since it also calls for state Constitution restrictions on the Legislature passing tax increases (I think each instance should be considered separately, rather than have harsh restrictions on all) and term limits for state legislators (I think such limits are short-sighted because some people have much to offer in public service, while others don’t even deserve one term).

Those too are issues that could bolster his image among certain voters, while hurt with the bulk of the state.

BUT BEFORE IT comes off like this commentary is a complete trashing of Brady, he did have one worth-while point to make – he would like to see the Illinois State Board of Elections put in charge of redrawing political boundaries for the state Legislature and Illinois’ congressional delegation, believing that the bi-partisan board would do a more fair job than the self-interests of the General Assembly.

I’m not sure how it would work but it is an idea worth considering, since the people on the elections board usually are more knowledgable about the realities of elections and the state as a whole than the legislators – most of whom can’t comprehend anything that happens beyond their own home neighborhood.


No comments: