Where the good kids are: Today, voters in Illinois’ second congressional district start the process of replacing Jesse Jackson Jr.
In the past several weeks, Rachel Maddow has presented this contest as a test of the NRA’s ongoing political strength. Reason: One Democratic contender, Debbie Halvorson, has an A rating from the NRA, based upon past votes as a one-term congresswoman in a different Illinois district. Other Democratic contenders have always been low-rated by the NRA.
On February 15, Maddow discussed her theory about the NRA’s dwindling influence. She played tape of Halvorson at a past event, then offered a framework which struck us as slightly odd:
MADDOW (2/15/13): That was Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, a Democrat, promising a crowd at a gun rights rally she will be their voice wherever she goes. That same Debbie Halvorson, now a former member of Congress, still a Democrat, is trying to win the first congressional election taking place in America after the Sandy Hook shooting.Maddow’s analysis struck us as somewhat odd. For starters, we doubt that an A-rating from the NRA would ever have been a big plus in this heavily Democratic, largely urban district. Mainly, though, we refer to her statement that this will be “the first congressional election taking place in America after the Sandy Hook shooting.”
Maybe once upon a time, that kind of position on guns, maybe once upon a time having an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association would be a great asset for getting elected to Congress. I’m sure at some point it might have been, but it is not anymore.
A couple of weeks ago, we showed the ad that the super PAC run by Mayor Mike Bloomberg had started running in that Illinois district. Highlighting Debbie Halvorson’s A rating from the NRA and highlighting it is not a good way.
Is Sandy Hook the real frame of reference in this Chicago-area district? According to the Chicago Tribune, the district covers the South Side of Chicago and the southern suburbs. The district’s voting-age population is 54 percent black and 34 percent white. The district is heavily Democratic.
Question: Do black and Hispanic Chicago Democrats really think about Sandy Hook first when they think about guns? As many people may have heard, Chicago has had its own unique problems with gun violence in the past year. Just last month, the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, age 15, was a major event in Chicago. Pendleton had performed as a majorette at Obama’s inaugural parade just one week before.
When Chicagoans think about guns, do they think first about Sandy Hook? Maddow made that suggestion several times, then introduced Chris Hayes as she started her next segment. We wondered if Hayes would broaden Maddow’s frame of reference, but it didn’t happen:
MADDOW: This Illinois special election, the first congressional contest since what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary last month, happens just a week from Tuesday. Joining us now is Chris Hayes, the host of Up with Chris Hayes, weekend mornings at 8:00 here on MSNBC.It didn’t seem to occur to either pundit that the death of Pendleton and other Chicago kids might count for a great deal in this district along with the deaths of the children at Sandy Hook.
Chris, it is great to see you as always.
HAYES: Always great to see you.
MADDOW: Did you ever think you would live to see the day when an A rating from the NRA would be an albatross for politicians?
HAYES: You know, the weird part of it is I saw that day when it I was 13 years old or 14 years old, when there was this period, the Million Mom March, the assault weapons ban, when this kind of thing was good politics for Democrats and the Democratic Party leaned into it...
We don’t know who will win tonight. Turn-out may be very low; part of the district is located in gun-friendly rural areas. We’ll only say this: For ourselves, we’re tired of seeing our fiery liberal leaders look right past the lives of black kids.
Do Chicago voters think of Sandy Hook when they think about guns? We will guess that folk in this district may know how to mourn Hadiya Pendleton along with those other beautiful kids, the beautiful kids from halfway across the country.
Do we liberals know how to honor black kids? Quite often, it seems that we do not, although that plainly can't be true. Reason? Because we’re the good people!
Worth at least a thousand words: To see what other good kids look like, please click here, then stare at the photograph hard.