Monday, June 17, 2013

Where’s the surprise that Kirk didn’t back immigration reform w/ his vote

In recent days, there has been an outrage centered on our state’s very own Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

KIRK: How hard a sell to get an "aye" vote?
For it seems he was among the 15 members of the U.S. Senate who took a procedural vote being interpreted as opposition to immigration reform. For under the Senate rules, the bill under consideration has to have at least 60 percent support to even come up for debate, then consideration and a vote.

IT’S A MONTH-LONG process, and the overwhelming majority of senators who cast “aye” votes are not bound in any way to actually support the concept. It just lets the process move forward.

But for those who didn’t want an “aye” on their records for anything related to immigration, it was more about making a statement of appeasement to the conservative ideologues who resent that the issue is even being considered.

Then, there’s Kirk, who has made a point of making statements saying he’d be willing to support an immigration reform proposal if more of an emphasis is placed on keeping people out of the United States, rather than trying to figure out if the bureaucratic mess of a policy we now have is keeping out people who legitimately ought to be allowed in.

Of course, what constitutes the “greater enforcement” that Kirk mentions is a vague concept. In fact, it could be interpreted so broadly that nothing qualifies – which would mean he’s a “no” vote on the issue, no matter what happens.

IT SEEMS THE activists and political observers were thinking that Kirk is a “moderate” who would not want to be aligned with the hard-core ideologues whose opposition is more about wanting their own ethnic hang-ups enforced by federal law.

But I can’t say that Kirk’s actions surprise me in any way! I would have been shocked if he had somehow Got Religion and discovered that he should not let himself be intimidated politically by the ideologues.

Yes, Kirk is of the North Shore suburbs. He’s not of the rural background that prevails amongst many of the political people who lead these conservative movements.

Work cut out for them. Photograph provided by OFA-Illinois
And on some issues, he is the type of person just urban enough that he can be persuaded to break away from the ideologues. I’m sure there are enough of those individuals who are disgusted that Kirk made public comments urging the Illinois General Assembly to go forward in making marriage a legitimate option for gay couples.

LET’S NOT FORGET that Kirk also has always been in disagreement with the Republican Party platform when it comes to abortion. He’s not the first person the ideologues turn to for support.

But on this issue, Kirk is keeping the party line. I guess he figures he can make up for offending the GOP base on marriage by maintaining the closed view on immigration policy.

Let’s not forget that when Kirk ran for the Senate seat in 2010 (after having represented the North Shore in Congress for a decade previously), he was the butt of campaign ads that criticized him for his support of measures meant to increase U.S. support of family planning programs directed at foreign nations.

The reasoning was that it might somehow reduce the number of foreigners, which in the future would reduce the number of people wanting to try to get into this country. Even though anyone with sense would see there’s no real connection between family planning and immigration.

KIRK HAS MADE his choice. And even if, by chance, he does wind up voting “aye” on immigration reform when it allegedly comes up for action some time before Independence Day, there will be those among us who remember his previous “no” votes.

In fact, having votes on both sides of the issue would probably hurt him more politically than anything else.

So for those activists who are now stomping around, picketing and urging petition signatures to try to sway the senator, go ahead! It’s your freedom of expression to let Kirk know you think he’s wrong.

Just don’t get too shocked when you figure out that Kirk has picked a side on this issue – and getting him to swing back to sense is not going to be an easy cause.


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