Where politics and faith dance in the shadow of the windmill.

What Has He Done?

That was the petulant cry of Jack Hoogendyk the other night in his debate with Sen. Carl Levin. And it didn’t get any better at the Detroit Economic Club. As the release of the Levin ad today demonstrates, Levin has done plenty.

But that’s not the point.

Hoogendyk represents the low state of the GOP in Michigan, and its theology (is there any other word for this?) of low-tax-cuts-will-cure-everything. It is not their budget choices, but their all too apparent lack of vision for anything like a coherent future which is their astonishing burden. And the one thing we need in Lansing (and Washington) is vision.

Faced with a recession and the erosion of Michigan’s economy, the Hoogendyks of our State offer policies that are deaf to the realities on the ground. A $25 billion bailout? Rejected. It’s good when companies fail. There is no sense here how such policies integrate into anything others would consider reality. And its not just Hoogendyk.  There are plenty more in West Michigan beginning with ring leader David Agema, who frame their approach in the same set of economic fundamentalisms. In their view, our problem is that we are insufficiently conservative.  We have failed their ideology.  And their ideology has failed them, as well,  hiding from them  the consequences of their action.

In taking this path, the GOP has turned its back on its more pragmatic heritage of conservatism in Michigan. What we miss is an economics harnessed for some greater, broader good.

By participating in this economic turn, the social conservatives empty theircapacity to affect change. Call this the Voorhees trap. Social conservative positions that might merit consideration now get linked with an economic stance that proves doubly alienating for moderate voters. The economics gets rejected and the social positions — the heart of the social conservative program — become tarnished.

Opportunity for Democrats

The lack of compelling vision from the Right, opens a door for Democrats to shape the future of our State and its politics, less by policy, than by the practice of a pragmatic politics. The problems before our State are utterly real. We too, will need to shun our orthodoxies if we are to lead our state to a kind of escape from the grim recession that still grips us.

Rather than surrender to our orthodoxies we should give ourselves to the vision of what we want our city, our region, our state to be.


Filed under: Elections, Michigan,

2 Responses

  1. velo says:

    I agree that Hookendyk is an awful candidate and represents a lot of bad stuff (anti-immigration, English-only, etc), but I really thought that this post would be a more comprehensive overview of Levin’s actual voting record, not just a repost of a campaign ad (which doesn’t source any of its statements). It seems like the blogosphere is ripe for this kind of argument since the mainstream media has essentially decided not to invest any time in this race.

  2. Harris says:

    Velo — I would agree with nearly all. Of course the ad is propaganda of a sort, and being the partisan that I can be, I’ll use it. The difficulty with Hoogendyk’s “what has he done” lies in its basic cheapness: you get in an argument with a friend, they make an assertion, and then you respond with a variation of ‘name three…’ This is a lousy argument no matter who makes it. Far better to argue, that “(he) hasn’t done this, and these are the consequences.”

    Levin’s fundamental strength has been the seriousness he has brought to the Armed Services Committee and national defense issues generally. Secondarily, he has been far more resolute on Constitutional issues than our other senator.

    Finally, as you know, tracking any legislator’s behavior can be arduous. time consuming, and quite frankly beyond the reach of any one person. Our civic discourse depends on the research (and publishing) of many, especially that of our independent media. This is all a polite way of saying my research recently has been going elsewhere to house seats and the impact of the GM Stamping plant closure.

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