The defenders of G.O.P. Rep. Mark Kirk, who has been caught in more than one misrepresentation of his achievements, will argue (as such people always do) that these “mistakes” are simply campaign gotchas that tell voters nothing about what really counts, which is how he will perform when he is elected, as he hopes he will be, a U.S. Senator from Illinois.
In fact, a candidate who lies about his past honors and job history, as Kirk has, cannot be trusted. He continues to show voters that quality, or lack of quality, as this incident, reported in several sources, proves. From The Plum Line:
“GOP Rep. Mark Kirk, a top-tier candidate for the 2010 Illinois Senate race, appeared before a crowd and got pelted by loud boos when he mentioned that he’d been one of a handful of GOPers who voted for cap and trade last spring. Kirk calmed the angry crowd with an intriguing explanation…
“‘I voted for it because it was in the narrow interests of my Congressional district,” Kirk said. “But as your representative, representing the entire state of Illinois, I will vote No on that bill.’”
Oh. Wait a minute—what? The bill, which is national in scope, was good for “narrow interests” in his District but is bad for the state? Does Kirk think cap and trade is good policy or not? Does he mean he’s for sale to the highest-bidding “narrow interests”? What does he believe? Does he believe in anything?
Sure he does. Mark Kirk believes in getting elected, and saying or doing whatever that requires.
Apparently the crowd accepted his reflexive flip-flop: “Kirk’s formulation got its desired effect: The crowd abruptly pivoted from loud boos to loud cheers,” says the story.
Illinois voters now know more than enough about the character and trustworthiness of Mark Kirk to activate the citizen’s duties to pay attention and not to put scoundrels in office after they reveal themselves as such. If they elect him Senator in November, they will deserve what they get.
4 thoughts on “Integrity, Rep. Mark Kirk, and the Citizen’s Duty to Pay Attention”
I always thought I would like this type of explanation. But now you are telling me that I should not like, nor should I accept this type of explanation. Why?
Shouldn’t a representative of the people put his personal opinions aside when pressed by his constituents?
Imagine a bill that would criminalize the morning after pill and early abortions. You believe that life begins at conception and that such methods are murder, so you support the bill. Nationwide, the bill is in the media and Americans are apparently divided. But upon talking to your constituents (the people that voted in your election and technically, you are here to serve them) you find that a large majority (93%) don’t support the bill and want you to vote it down.
Do you do as your constituents ask or stick to your convictions?
The case you mention is special, in my opinion. If a Rep. thinks something is murder, he can’t ethically vote for it no matter what his constituents want. If it makes him feel better, he can resign—after he votes.
In many other situations, I can see either approach to voting: the wished of the district or the conscience of the Rep.
But not the way Kirk explained it. “Cap and Trade” is national legislation aimed at, supposedly, stopping carbon pollution to slow global warming. Either it makes sense, or it doesn’t, and I can’t see what “narrow interests” have to do with it, in Kirk’s district or ANY district, unless it is largely populated by Al Gore’s relatives or polar bears. We’re talking billions of dollars in expenditures, lost jobs, and lost income on one side, or the devastation of the environment on the other.
What if the main employers in his district make solar panels and windmills?
I am assuming the ethical standard here is that they should do what is right for their district as long as it doesn’t cause overwhelming harm to everyone else?
That would be a legitimate narrow interest, assuming, as you say, that it wouldn’t cause harm to everyone else. Of course, the argument against cap and trade IS that it will cause over-whelming harm to the nation’s industry and economy, without accomplishing anything.
Part of my problem with Kirks’ reasoning is that I don’t see any reason to believe a thing he says. I realize that the argument—“He’s lying, so we can’t trust him”–“How to you know he’s lying?”—“Because we can’t trust him!” is a tautology. In Kirk’s case, it seems right somehow.