I suppose we can put this in the “Laugh or Cry?” box, but earlier this month Rep. Tom Hooker (R-Byron Center) announced his priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Ban Planned Parenthood.
“One of the things that I was very focused on was our taxpayers paying for Planned Parenthood clinics around the state of Michigan. I believe that my constituents are not happy that their tax dollars are going for that organization. At least, the majority of my constituents aren’t. I’m a pro-life social conservative. I don’t believe we’re going to have success as a state financially until we get our social issues in line. Obviously, if we’re killing babies we’re not going to be blessed as a state fiscally.”
We can admire a man of principles, but this does come up short, given a state that needs to rebuild its roads, or a state government planning substantial reform of its schools.
On one level, this set of priorities suggests a confusion of campaigning and governing. Thus, issues that motivate voting come to the top of legislative issues. Practically, what Rep. Hooker has done is to declare himself a reliable vote for the Republican majority. Now while that will please the people of his district, the decision nonetheless robs the people of Byron Center of input. By putting passion before politics, he has opened a gap between the people of his district and Lansing.
While everyone wants a team player, we also want a player who will participate, help shape the policies and legislation of the state. The people even of an archly conservative district deserve a legislator who puts Michigan first.
And here our representative is a sign of the current move of anti-politics. Rather than being concerned with the common good, politics is reduced to a matter of personal conviction. It’s theatre. The point of politics is not to go and vote one’s convictions, but to go and with others plot a better path for the State. The preference for moral stances, good as they may be, is a sort of anti-politics, even the denial of the political solution itself.