Monday, October 17, 2011

Holding a finger into the wind before taking that ‘bold’ stance on an issue

Political people are inherently similar, regardless of what level of government they happen to work in.
MORENO: Backing the marchers

Whether urban or rural, progressive or conservative, ethnic or as boringly Anglo as one can get, it seems that any public official who happens to take a stance on an issue usually winds up siding with the types of people who he thinks will vote for him.

POLITICIANS HAVE A knack for “boldly going” wherever their desired constituents lead them.

At least that’s what I can’t help but perceive from watching the recent actions of Kyle McCarter and Proco “Joe” Moreno.

The latter is a Chicago alderman – the boss of the no-longer-mob-influenced First Ward, while the former is a state Senator from a rural town that views Decatur, Ill., as its “big” city. One is a Democrat from the Wicker Park neighborhood that isn’t as trendy anymore as it likes to think it is, while the other is a Republican who likely has no use for any of those “trendy” types from select Chicago neighborhoods.

Yet both of them are inherently animals of the political species. (Homo politicus?) Which is why I get my chuckles from their “bold” stands that are about as predictable as one can get.

IN THE CASE of Moreno, he came out on Friday and told WBEZ-FM during an interview that he is supportive of all these protesters who have been marching in cities across the nation, including Chicago (going so far as to get arrested Saturday night when they wouldn’t leave Grant Park at its official closing time).

Which is a bit of a shock, since he may be the first government official to say much of anything about these people. Other officials who have been asked have managed to come up with solid streams of gobbledygook on the subject.

McCARTER: Backing the church
But Moreno says nice things about the people, even saying that he thinks their message will become sharper and more to the point as they continue to march and picket.

“It just shows the rage and the inequity where you’ve got our population going,  spreading out more towards the bottom and fewer towards the top and the middle is shrinking,” Moreno told Chicago's NPR affiliate radio station. “That’s what you’re seeing that rage and that disgust.”

THEN AGAIN, MORENO is a product of Wicker Park, which isn’t the youthful trendsetter neighborhood any longer, but still has certain types of people living there.

It may well be Moreno’s neighbors comprising a large share of the protest marchers in the events in Chicago.

Which means that Moreno is simply trying to tell his constituents he’s not going to bad-mouth them for their actions, because he wants their votes come the next citywide election cycle in 2015.

The last thing he needs to do is say something silly that could escalate, linger around for a few years and bite him in the nalgas when he runs for re-election just over three years from now.

THAT ALSO IS what likely motivates McCarter of the Illinois state Senate, which is likely what caused him to sponsor a bill that will be considered during the spring of 2012.

His issue is adoption, particularly the fact that changes in state law that respect gay people as individuals have had the effect of cutting out of the process religious-based groups that used to be used by the state to actually place orphaned and abused children into adoptive and foster homes respectively.

Catholic Charities still has a legal battle pending on behalf of rural Illinois dioceses, although the courts thus far have ruled that the church doesn’t have a right to state contracts – and must follow the state’s rules if they want to receive them.

So McCarter’s bill, according to the State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield, Ill., essentially would create an exception to the rules for religious-based organizations that want to be in the child-welfare basis. They can still be involved, even if they don't want to acknowledge gay couples as legitimate possibilities for children in need of a home.

IN SHORT, McCARTER wants to change the rules – which will be perceived well by those people who have a hang-up about the fact that the state is not siding with them on this issue.

It’s very likely that this bill will get killed off somewhere in the process. McCarter’s introduction of it may well be its highlight. It probably will NOT become law.

But I doubt that McCarter cares. Because what something like this is about is appealing to certain potential voters and trying to get them to be, if not supportive, then not openly hostile towards his political existence.

This is about McCarter trying to get himself re-elected by claiming he’s standing up to “those” people. And as for the gay rights activists who are calling this particular bill “homophobic,” he probably figures those people would never have voted for him anyway.

SO HE DOESN’T lose much of anything. In fact, it might even bolster his profile just enough that he gets a bit more statewide support from the organizations that have their pet issues and are willing to dole out some campaign cash to their potential allies.

Which may also be Moreno’s reasoning. Being one of the few to publicly back the Wall Street protests makes him stand out. At the very least, McCarter and Moreno aren’t just anonymous political schmoes.


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