Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk is a sound, rational, all-around decent guy who represents the best that the GOP has to offer. In 2010 I made phone calls, walked the precincts, and generally laid out to get him elected. It isn’t clear yet who will challenge him in 2016, but it doesn’t matter. I won’t support him.
Sending Mark Kirk to the Senate has accomplished absolutely nothing other than to empower Ted Cruz and Jim Inhofe. Remember when Kirk stood up to Cruz over his ridiculous filibuster of a budget deal? No, I don’t either. He did it as quietly as possible, with a vote for cloture but no attempt to organize any opposition that might have rallied sane Republicans into a relevant power bloc.
Remember the time Kirk called out Rand Paul over his conspiracy-driven filibuster of a nominee to head the CIA? Nope. That’s because Kirk supported him, even making a show of bringing Paul a thermos and an apple, in reference to Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Cute.
Contrary to popular belief, the Republican Party has a rich base of solid citizens with the country’s best interests at heart. Many of those Republicans occupy some of the country’s highest positions of authority. Senators like Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman and Lamar Alexander are just a few examples.
The problem with these folks is that they are spineless in the face of opposition from the “whacko bird” caucus. Sensible Republicans have been trying for years to get a voice in national politics, but the people we elect have fled from every fight. That’s the Mark Kirk Dilemma and that’s why I won’t support him or any other Republican for a Federal office anytime soon.
Back here in Illinois, Kirk has been proud to support immigration reform. In Washington, silence. In Illinois Kirk has claimed to embrace scientists’ positions on climate change. In Washington when he could have taken a stand that mattered, he has hedged.
Kirk will claim that he’s been “courageous” in taking a stand with Democratic Senator Menendez to impose sanctions on Iran. What courage does that take exactly? Show me the powerful, well-funded pro-Iran lobby in Washington. In Washington, “taking on Iran” is just as courageous as taunting an asthmatic fat kid on the playground.
Kirk has reserved all his “courage” for political targets that can’t fight back.
Sane, sensible Republicans who occupy influential positions in Washington will tell you they are doing all they can. They will claim that they are carefully picking their battles. Climate change, immigration reform, and restructuring the tax code are issues they would like to push forward, but the party at the national level isn’t ready for sound solutions. I’m beginning to think they are right.
In that case, those folks shouldn’t be in Washington. They should be back here in the precincts with us fighting to change the party on the ground. They may claim that they can accomplish more from a position in the House or Senate, but so far there is no evidence to support that position. If Mark Kirk can’t use his platform in the Senate to fight climate change, push back against racist immigration rhetoric, promote sensible fiscal policy, or in any other way counter the power of Neo-Confederates inside the Republican Party, then he needs to come home.
Until someone in the Republican Party is willing to take a visible, courageous stand for sanity in the style of John McCain circa 2000, there is no reason to keep voting for them. I helped send Mark Kirk to the Senate in the hope that he might counter the influence of some very frightening people inside the Republican Party. That was a mistake I am not going to repeat.