Kirk, a US Congressman from Illinois’ 10th Congressional District has one of the most liberal voting records in the House. He was one of eight Republicans who voted for Cap and Trade, opposed the Iraqi troop surge and opposed expanded oil exploration offshore and in ANWAR. So what’s going on here?
Some misguided Republicans saw Brown’s election as a signal that the tide was shifting back to their values, whatever those values are. The wiser Republicans saw Brown’s election for what it was, an indication that America is fed up with both parties. It was a signal to the Democrats, not the Republicans. The Republicans had already been handed their message in 2006 and 2008. Brown is a social moderate who supposedly believes in fiscal conservatism at the federal level and supports the concept that many of these social issues belong to the state and local governments. He opposes this one size fits all approach.
Mark Kirk had six opponents in that senate race yet garnered 57% of the vote. Was this a vindication of his liberal ways? No. Many of the other candidates in that race did poorly because of budget constraints and thus had only local appeal. Patrick Hughes was the only potentially serious opponent Kirk had. Patrick was a true all around conservative who could have had plenty of appeal. So what went wrong? Hughes attacked Kirk on seven different issues. Obviously, three of those issues were Cap and Trade, oil exploration and troop surge, issues which resonated hard with most Republicans. But he also attacked Kirk hard on his stances on abortion, gay marriage and hate crime legislation. His web site boasted of nine different endorsements by right-to-life persons or organizations and no less than five well known conservative authors, talk show host and others who regularly push social conservatism at the public. He just couldn’t resist making these social issues part of the campaign. A full explanation as to the overwhelming support Kirk garnered is still a bit of a mystery but the parallels between what occurred in Massachusetts and the Illinois election are striking.
The party and/or candidate who strongly embraced what is viewed as social issues lost. The resistance to the Democrats’ push for national health care cost them a general election in Massachusetts. Hughes' strong support for social conservative principals may have cost him the primary in Illinois. The ACP opposes social engineering by the Federal Government and issues such as health care, abortion, gay rights, etc, unfortunately are being used as political tools at the national level. The public is sick of listening to this rhetoric. The public wants to know they are safe and can make their own way in a free nation. This means concentrating on national defense and our economy. The voters of Massachusetts sent the Democratic party their message with Scott Brown.
In the 2006 gubernatorial race in Illinois, Republican voters tried to send the party a message when a massive defection culminated in a protest vote against the nominee and propelled the Green Party over the hump to become the official third party in Illinois. It wasn’t a shift to liberalism, it was a message. The voters again appear to be reminding the Republican candidates in Illinois they are sick of the business as usual attitudes and will hold them to the same standard in Illinois as did the voters in Massachusetts. Now the question is whether they will understand the message. If they don’t and continue down this path of constantly tossing social issues in the face of the voters, it will pave the way for the ACP and similar movements and parties to replace the Democrats and Republicans with some common sense options.
Barack Obama ran on the concept of change and the public embraced that idea. Unfortunately, the leaders of both major parties don’t seem to understand what kind of change the public really wants. It’s actually quite simple and an objective analysis of these elections and recent events tells the story - they want our leaders to get back to the basics, have some integrity, use some common sense and stop mortgaging our children’s futures with these huge deficits and if you want to promote social and moral values, that’s great, but promote it through your church or other non-profit organization and leave it out of our national politics.