Contrary to what critics of mine may think, I consider myself an Independent when it comes to politics, although I admit on many social issues I may lean toward left of center.
You can write that off to a number of factors, including coming of age as a political activist during the nationally divisive Vietnam War era; a high school education under the tutelage of Dominican Sisters at the Catholic school I attended where critical thinking and expression of opinion was encouraged and, frankly, the passage of time as a father concerned that my two sons and their generation won’t have some of the rights I – and many of you – enjoyed while growing up. This last item is probably what motivates me most nowadays.
I offer this information as a backdrop for this month’s missive which is devoted to my hope – albeit probably not realistic – that a perfect candidate comes to the forefront in the race to fill the congressional seat now held by Birmingham-based Republican David Trott, who announced in early September that he will not be seeking a third two-year term in Washington D.C.
We did not endorse Trott in the general elections for his first or second term in Congress. We felt when he first ran for office that he was too conservative – not necessarily a reflection of the overall sentiment of this sprawling congressional district that includes Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, part of Rochester Hills, a large swatch of the west Oakland lakes area and a couple of communities in western Wayne County.
For the record, we did not buy into the anti-Trott criticism relative to his success in business which made him a multi-millionaire – more power to him – or the carping about how he made his fortune as a foreclosure attorney.
But we did object to positions he took on key issues. Granted, we were all forewarned. Hell, part of his pitch to voters was that ‘What you see is what you get – I won’t say one thing and do another.’ Hence no surprise that he proceeded to jump on board with other House members to gut the Affordable Care Act, public be damned, and joined in the celebration at the Rose Garden with President Trump, who would later change his mind on what Trott, et al had done. And then there was his vote – along with Mike Bishop (R) from Rochester – to roll back an Obama era Environmental Protection Agency rule rule that essentially loosened restrictions on coal mining waste from ending up in streams and rivers, part of the conservative agenda to gut the EPA wherever they could.
We did get an inkling of late that Trott was conflicted in his role as congressman, either out of frustration with being a small fish in a big pond (435 House members) or the realization that the current administration will not improve in the next three years, so why bother trying. Trott told viewers on MSNBC’s ‘Good Morning Joe’ show that he wanted more time with his family and was a bit disheartened that a House member spends most of the 24-month term hustling to raise one-three million dollars to get elected again. One also has to wonder whether there is also some personal embarrassment that he had pledged allegiance to a leader who gives renewed meaning to the term “vulgarian.”
In the last few months, Trott seemed to soften his positions on a few issues. For example, during the Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference on Mackinac Island this spring, Trott actually expressed disagreement with Trump having pulled out of the Paris climate accord. And in his own way he broke with the current administration when Trump made insensitive remarks relative to the alt-right, white supremacist violence at Charlottesville.
He even took time, talking to news editor Lisa Brody just weeks ahead of going to press with this issue, to express his disappointment with the mayhem in the current administration and the lack of progress on issues that Republicans hold near and dear.
So as members of the GOP started jockeying with the announcement from Trott’s office, I couldn’t help but think that the ideal candidate for this congressional office would be someone – from either party – who can govern from the center. We don’t need a far right conservative, nor do we need someone beholden to some far left agenda. Sorry, the district expects better.
This district deserves to have someone represent the voters’ views, not just someone who will march into the halls of Congress and represent their own personal views. What a novel thought – we pay you to represent us.
We need someone who has the ability and inclination to represent those living in the district, which more political observers are casting as a toss-up or purple district rather than the Republican stronghold party leaders had hoped when they gerrymandered the boundaries for what was supposed to be a safe red district.
The 11th Congressional District demands someone who has an inclusive agenda, can use compromise when necessary to reach legislative goals, realizes that we send someone to Congress to assure our health and safety, and not impose moral values as if this was a theocracy.
I suspect I am only daydreaming that a perfect candidate truly exists. After all, within the first 24 hours after Trott’s announcement, we had at least one of the Republican hopefuls list as a qualification for congress the fact that he was an early supporter of Donald Trump. Heaven help us.
Then we have another GOP candidate (state Sen. Marty Knollenberg) out hustling for money and support so he can try riding into Washington D.C. on the merit of his last name because his father was head of the county GOP at one point, and then parlayed that position into a congressional seat when Bill Broomfield retired from the House. The same congressman, during an election interview I managed when he first ran, who promised to only be in Washington D.C. for two terms – the classic citizen/lawmaker who returns home – but hung around for a decade and a half, all the while denying his earlier campaign promise.
On the flip side, we are only familiar with a couple of the Democrats likely running for this office, so we will have to see if anyone fits the bill of my ideal representative as more candidates announce in coming weeks.
We recognize media endorsements are not the influence factor they once were decades ago, especially in a race that could be fueled by possibly $10 million in campaign spending. But we will fulfill our role here by making recommendations to voters before the primary and general election ballots are cast in this contest.
Hopefully we can come close to an ideal candidate for this district.