Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What goes through the GOP mindset when it comes to accusing the opposition?

Just about any time that something happens that might make me think the Party of Lincoln in the Land of Lincoln is about to regain its bearings and start being competitive in elections, some nonsense happens that makes me realize I’m being foolish.

It probably is not an exaggeration to say that the GOP in Illinois is so incompetent it will be incapable of taking advantage of all the potential for backlash to the Democratic Party caused by the presence of Rod Blagojevich.

NOW WITH 15 more months to go before the 2010 general election, there is time for change. There is always the chance for a Democrat to do something so dumb that it plays into the hands of the GOP.

But then I look at the latest predicament faced by Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who would like to move up from his congressional post on the North Shore suburbs to serving in the U.S. Senate on behalf of all of Illinois.

Kirk is one of those more moderate of Republican officials who don’t get so worked up over moralistic issues (or at least trying to impose a narrow view of what is moral into the mindsets of everybody else – which I personally think is an immoral way to behave).

So naturally, he has the conservative elements of the Republican Party gunning for him. Of late, they’re whacking him about because of his “tweets.”

SPECIFICALLY, KIRK USES Twitter to send out his brief little messages about what he is up to, out of hopes that he can attract interest in his campaign from the types of people who think Twitter is the greatest thing since sliced bread (to feed off an ancient cliché).

It literally is taking a lesson from the political playbook used by Barack Obama in ’08, who used all the toys of the Internet to advertise his campaign. People using Facebook, MySpace or just about anything else could find Obama there, and get little bits of information about him.

Kirk wants the Twitter fans to know he exists, since he accurately believes that many of them wouldn’t bother to look him up otherwise unless he puts himself out there where they are.

But Kirk is in the Naval Reserve, and he’s on active duty. So his Twitter messages included innocuous details about his current military assignment.

TO LISTEN TO some of the most conservative critics, Kirk is one step away from giving up classified information to “the enemy” – whomever that enemy might be.

Even the people who have a touch of rationality in them are upset that he’s trying to remind us that he has military service in his background – because they want to believe that anyone who isn’t as full-fledged conservative as they are on social issues can’t possibly have military experience that could be relevant.

So Kirk, who in many ways is about the only one of the six people who currently are considering running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Roland Burris, D-Ill., is going to be smacked about.

For Kirk, the next six months leading up to the Republican primary are going to be like this. People who are determined to get their ideological mates nominated are going to slap at him with all kinds of silly stuff like this Twitter “controversy.”

NOW I KNOW that some people are going to argue that there is a legitimate moral issue at stake – should someone on active duty be doing anything that could be construed as campaigning for public office? Kirk himself has said he will quit using Twitter until after his active duty stint is done.

Now if it could be shown that somehow, military resources were being used to send the messages or pay for the campaign activity, then maybe there’d be a point. But this “issue” is too petty.

The fact that Kirk wants to remind potential voters that he has served in the military doesn’t strike me as being much different than those candidates who are always quick to cite whatever minute military experience (I’m talking about people like George W. Bush) they had decades ago.

But I guess Kirk, because he’s not conservative enough, can’t use military experience as a positive for himself, similar to how the people to whom military experience is a key political issue were more willing to support Bush over Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004 – despite the fact that both served in Vietnam whereas Bush didn’t.

IF ALL OF this sounds absurd, it is.

This absurdity is what I think will wind up bogging down the Republican Party in Illinois to the point where it won’t matter how many times their candidates scream the name “Blagojevich” to the electorate.

It also won’t help their cause the degree to which the Democratic Party has come to dominate the parts of this state where a majority of the people live. I fully appreciate how central Illinois is Republican, and how locals there can’t comprehend how the rest of the state can’t view the world as they do.

But the bulk of Illinois’ population lives in the Chicago suburbs, where the fact that the Republican Party has identified itself so thoroughly in recent years with rural America has caused those suburbanites to think of themselves as having more in common with Democratic Chicago than Republican places like Sangamon or McLean counties.

SO IT REALLY shouldn’t have been a surprise to see the latest Gallup Organization study that showed Illinois to be in the Top 10 states/territories leaning Democratic.

Fifty-six percent of those Illinoisans surveyed said they were Democrats, compared to only 30 percent Republican. That makes Illinois more Democratic than places like New York (a 25 percent difference between Dems and GOPers) and California (22 percent).

Personally, I have always thought government works best when there is a partisan split to prevent anyone from going too far (although one could argue that the Democratic Party schizophrenia that exists in Springfield these days serves the same purpose). So I’d like to see a competitive GOP, rather than the Democratic domination we have had for much of this decade.

But if Republican partisans nitpick at one of their most legitimate candidates for a higher office with silly little nonsense charges such as this, they’re only ensuring their continued irrelevance.


EDITOR’S NOTES: Some of Mark Kirk’s partisan critics want him sent to the brig (http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=311324&src=1) for using Twitter.

Rod Blagojevich’s existence may not be a tall enough ladder for the Republicans to use to climb (http://www.gallup.com/poll/122003/Political-Party-Affiliation-States-Blue-Red-Far.aspx) the Democratic barricades that currently keep them from holding elective office.

1 comment:

Andy Martin said...

If you like Mark Kirk so much, why don't you ask him to become a Democrat?


Andy Martin
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