As is my custom on alternate Tuesdays. I attended last night’s meeting of Peoria Drinking Liberally. While I am more of a green Wobbly than a liberal or a democrat, I will at least cop to being a progressive. I find the discussions at these affairs both stimulating and bracing and I have grown very fond of the dozen or so that attend as regularly as I.
Last night, we were joined by the 2010 Democratic candidate for the Illinois 18 Congressional District, D.K. Hirner (accompanied by her husband Chuck). I must admit to being impressed with Ms. Hirner as a candidate and as a person. She seems intelligent, articulate and down to earth, aware of the issues and the problems many voters face in this mess of an economy the wealthy have imposed on us.
That does not constitute an endorsement and I am not sure who, if anyone I will vote for this year. I am more than a little disappointed with the performance last year and this of the national Democrats. In particular I deplore the performance of President Rahm Emmanuel – er I mean the other one. Obama.
The stimulus was too small, health care and wall street reform legislation was too timid, and the escalation in Afghanistan was too big. Other than that, the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are doing a heckuva job.
I could vote Green, but Sheldon Shaefer, the Green candidate in Illinois 18, cannot earn my support until he gives up being an anti choice forced birther. Too bad, because in many ways Sheldon is a very fine candidate. Anyway, in the absence of a Labor or Socialist or Social Democratic party here, I might vote for other Green candidates.
But there are plenty of Democrats to admire in both the House and Senate: Grayson, Kucinich, Franken, Schakowsky. Pelosi and Durbin immediately spring to mind as skilled legislators whose heads and hearts are in the right (or left) place. It is regrettable that there aren’t 50 or so Bernie Sanders’, because he has the whole government thing totally figured out.
So I was eager to engage Candidate Hirner in a discussion of the issues to see whether she is enough of a progressive to overcome the stigma of being a Democrat, the party of Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln, as well as all those good Dems mentioned above. I have to admit, she did not disappoint. The Hirners spent a good part of the evening with our little group. DK did not just show up to give a 5 minute speech and ask for our votes. Rather, she and Chuck settled down for a pleasant evening at the pub (Kellehers on Water Street btw) and had a beer or two and a little bit of Irish fare.
The discussion was wide ranging and Hirner had one on one’s with several individuals, including me. She said the right things when I asked about the issues. She agreed that it’s time to start withdrawing from Afghanistan. Unemployment is her number one priority. She favors a public option (dang, I should have asked about single payer).
Hirner’s strategy involves attacking the incumbent, Aaron Schock, at every opportunity, and he provides plenty of those. The attacks are on policy and records, nothing personal, which is refreshing these days. For example, Schock votes against unemployment insurance extensions when they come up, and he routinely votes against job creation measures. The challenge is to make swing voters aware of Schock’s record with little or no assistance from the local corporate media (including NPR).
As I said, I was impressed. I may come around to support eventually. There is one disturbing piece of Hirner’s bio that is on her campaign website. from 2005 to 20009 She was Executive Director of
Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group. Sounds green and Earth friendly, doesn’t it. but the IERG is an industry group formed to present a united negotiating front when negotiating environmental regulations with the state government. Does that make Hirner a Blue Dog? Not necessarily. She is endorsed bu unions like the UAW and IBEW.
As I said, I was impressed. I may come around to support eventually. But for now, I am holding out for a firmer commitment to progressive government from Hirner and her party.