Thursday, October 7, 2010

CAM-PAINS: Playing to the “fanatics”

It is that time of the campaign season when serious candidates make the rounds of various newspapers, not so much because they care about “making nice” with the reporter-types and their editors but because they are interested in endorsements.
Candidate Bill Brady

That means submitting to a session with various editors and reporters to answer questions about where one stands on issues.

IT ALSO USUALLY means the newspaper in question will write up an account of the meeting, so as to make itself feel all important that it got an “exclusive” interview with the candidate in question. Just like those newspapers that go so far as to commission their own polls, it’s all about self-promotion.

But it also gives the candidates a chance to play to their base – hoping that the voters who are ideologically inclined to back them will read those accounts and realize the “wisdom” of their choice.

At least that was the impression I got after reading accounts of the meeting that Gov. Pat Quinn had with the Daily Herald newspaper of suburban Arlington Heights, while Republican challenger William Brady had his get-together with the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to the Herald, Quinn is offering up a Christmas present, of sorts. He told those people interested in having the legal benefits of marriage extended to gay couples that the Illinois Legislature will act upon something this fall – making it possible for him to sign something into law by December.

BUT THE SUN-TIMES tells us that Brady specifically opposed that concept, and also had to let himself get lured into a debate over the differences between evolution and creationism.

Specifically, Brady told the Chicago newspaper that he thinks public school districts should be allowed for themselves to determine whether or not creationism should be taught in their curriculums.

Gov. Pat Quinn
I’m sure Brady, the state senator from Bloomington, knows full well how that will tick off the locals. But I’m also sure he knows he’s not getting their votes anyway.

So what he is counting on is the fact that word will spread of what the Sun-Times wrote, and that accounts will be published in newspapers elsewhere and will turn up on the Internet.

WHICH MEANS THE people who are inclined to want more religious influence within our schools will learn about it, and will be pleased. Heck, some of them might even perceive it as Brady telling those twisted Chicagoans right to their face what he’s going to do.

Even though if one reads exactly what Brady said, he’s not going to do anything. He says he would let school officials decide – even though this is one issue where there probably should be some consistency from school district to school district (which is why the Illinois State Board of Education would be involved).

This is about appealing to the base – the conservatives and rural people of Illinois who are more inclined to take such creationist talk seriously. Even if the individuals aren’t as hung up on religion as others are, the fact that Brady comes off as being supportive makes him seem more like  one of them.

Which is why I’m not about to get bent out of shape about this particular issue. I’d be more concerned about a gubernatorial candidate who – at a time when unemployment is high and people are fearing for their jobs – wants to talk about lowering the minimum wage and who thinks that “right to work” status for Illinois is something to be seriously considered.

BOTH OF THOSE are stances that Brady has taken during this campaign season, which implies to me that he blames the employees for problems facing business, rather than the businesses creating their own problems.

But those are other issues. On the social ones, Brady wants to keep that rural base that is perceiving this particular election cycle as a chance to knock down the heavy Chicago influence that has developed in the past decade over Illinois state government.

While Quinn is trying to appeal to those who realize where the bulk of the people of this state actually live – the urban portions, which have significant numbers of people who are inclined to take the whole gay marriage issue seriously.

Even if they’re not gay themselves, chances are they know someone who is and they’re not as inclined to view the whole concept in such a hostile manner.

BRADY, WHO ACTUALLY comes from one of the few central Illinois cities that has policies that make it clear gay people are not a species to be dreaded, is appealing to those voters who want to view marriage as something “traditional” and gay people as something opposite of tradition.

While Quinn, in speaking with the Herald, tried to take the opposite stance. He wants to be the candidate who gets the support of gay people and those who are not hostile toward gay people – which in today’s larger society is a growing segment.

Which means I’m not prepared to expect Quinn to keep his promise that civil unions – the concept that is considered a compromise to marriage for gay people – will be in place in Illinois by December.

We ought to hold him to his word, except that his promise specifically means he doesn’t have to act upon it until after the Nov. 2 elections. If he wins, Quinn has plenty of time to take some sort of positive action.

AND IF HE loses, I would think the last thing anybody would want is Quinn signing anything into law – even though he’d remain governor until early January and would have one more go-around with the Illinois Legislature this autumn.

Quinn may call himself a “strong advocate on civil unions,” but the reason he’s opening his mouth is that he wants your vote, just as Brady talking about creationism at this point is a blatant appeal for the votes of people who say “Hell, No!” to Quinn’s vote appeal.

Which reduces all of this to just more blather that we, the people, have to endure during the campaign season. Where’s the Tylenol? I’ve got a headache.

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