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.