‘Catch and release’ Tim Johnson

By Jack McMillin

Tim Johnson, our representative in the 15th Congressional district of Illinois, has got to go. Looking at his policies, I can’t understand exactly who he represents or from where his claim to being a moderate comes.

First off, Johnson can be easily tied in with the culture of corruption. Johnson received $25,000 from now-disgraced Tom DeLay’s political action committee, and $2000 from Bob Ney’s American Liberty PAC, Facing corruption scandals, neither of these congressmen is running for reelection in 2006.

Johnson would have you believe he is a moderate Republican, a responsible fiscal conservative who advocates tolerant, sane social policies. While he did receive a low ranking from the American Conservative Union, the second-lowest among Republicans from Illinois, to describe Johnson as a moderate would be praise he hasn’t earned.

Johnson voted against the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act when it passed the House of Representatives in 2005. This is the same bill that passed the Republican-dominated house and senate, but was then vetoed by President Bush. Apparently stem cell research is too extreme for Johnson’s “moderate” positions. Why he decided to vote against this bill is anyone’s guess. Maybe he simply doesn’t care about supporting science, but that doesn’t make sense considering that both the University of Illinois and Illinois State University are in his congressional district. Maybe he was simply playing “catch and release” politics. The bill was going to pass the house anyway, by voting against it he could throw a bone to religious conservatives.

Along those lines, Johnson has also supported homophobic causes as well. Even though Illinois has a state law banning discrimination against employees because of their sexual orientation, Johnson saw it appropriate to vote against the national Employment Non-Discrimination Act. By siding with those who claim that being gay is “immoral” and that it is appropriate to fire someone simply because they are, Johnson once again proved how “moderate” he is.

Johnson also voted for the racist House Resolution 4437, also known as the “beat down the minorities” bill. HR-4437 is the well-known resolution that would erect a 700-mile fence along the 2000-mile US-Mexico border, make a felon out of anyone who “knowingly aids or assists” undocumented immigrants and give those providing the assistance time in prison. This would of course include churches and charities that assist said undocumented immigrants. Apparently Johnson believes a good, moderate social policy is one that makes life harder for millions of Americans and their families, who already live in fear of deportation.

Johnson also shows a dismissive, rude personality when one of his constituents dares to question him about his positions. This aspect of his personality appeared on his performance on Focus 580, a local radio show, on Oct. 9. Johnson keeps a low profile around Champaign-Urbana, not speaking or appearing in public that often, and after hearing him on the radio I could see why. When a caller questioned him about his stance on net neutrality (about 12 minutes into the show), he became extremely rude and dismissive. When Congressman Johnson reacts this way to being called on something, it’s easy to see how he has been divorced three times. It’s also easy to see why he would feel the need to pander to religious conservatives, given his votes against stem-cell research and gay rights.

In short, don’t vote for Tim Johnson. In fact, do everything you can to make sure that in 2007, he is out of Congress. David Gill, who is challenging Johnson for his congressional seat, is a strong candidate with a history in this district. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois from both the undergraduate and medical college, and practices medicine at an emergency room in Clinton, Illinois. Later this month my column will describe his positions and why he will make a great representative, but compared to what we’ve got now it’d be hard not to.