U.S. Congressman John Dingell (D–Mich.) may have 54 years worth of incumbency to his advantage in the race for Michigan’s 15th district U.S. House of Representatives seat. But this hasn’t deterred others from vying for the position.
Republican candidate Robert Steele and Matthew Furman, a member of the U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan, will be on the ballot on Nov. 2, running against Dingell. Both candidates aim to change certain policies Dingell has supported during his time in office, though they each have different approaches to solving the nation’s pressing issues.
Steele, a University alum and local physician, hasn’t been involved in politics prior to his candidacy in this year’s midterm election. He said he was inspired to run to improve the future for his children and grandchildren by coming up with solutions to fix the nation’s current financial deficit.
“I just couldn’t sit by and say I didn’t do something to try to protect for my grandkids, so I got involved,” Steele said.
Careless government spending is putting today’s youth in an increasingly dangerous position, Steele said because today’s young people will be saddled with the nation’s debt in the future.
“Most parents wouldn’t go out and buy a big screen TV and a motor home and then charge it to their kids,” Steele said. “Your parents wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t do that to my children, and so why should we allow the government to do the same thing?”
Furman, too, wrote in an e-mail interview that the federal government needs to curb its current levels of spending, which is a key ideal of the U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan.
“I believe that with lower taxes and less of their paychecks being confiscated by the government, individuals and families can save, spend, and invest as they see fit, and business can expand, grow, and hire, thereby growing the economy,” Furman wrote. “There you have the difference between liberal policies and common sense policies.”
Furman, who’s currently training in a police academy, wrote that he feels Dingell has advocated “a liberal, socialist agenda that has pushed America to the breaking point,” which has caused a huge national deficit.
“I am campaigning for Congress to help restore America to her founding principles of limited government, freedom, liberty and fiscal responsibility,” Furman wrote.
By promoting tax cuts and establishing a lower income tax, Furman wrote, he hopes to begin to erase the nation’s debt. He said he believes this will allow American families to better use their own money without government interference.
Though it might not seem like a traditional path to politics, Steele said his work as a doctor has prepared him to be a politician in many ways because he knows how to handle difficult situations and address important issues in a timely fashion.
“We have career politicians who aren’t frankly that interested in fixing the problems,” Steele said. “They’re perfectly willing to kick it down the road to the next person just as long as they can get re-elected this time.”
Steele said he also hopes to improve what he calls “accountability,” or ensuring that every person in Congress understands the entirety of each bill placed before him or her. Steele said too often legislators vote on pieces of legislation that they fail to read completely due to excessive length.
“The bills need to be shorter,” Steele said. “And they need to be on one topic, and they need to be out in the public.”
When asked about running against someone who has been in Congress for more than five decades, Steele said he thinks this actually plays to his advantage because Dingell has become too consumed with the Washington political scene.
“(Dingell’s) been in the position where he thinks every solution starts and ends in Washington D.C., and that’s just not the case,” Steele said.
Recently, Steele has become the subject of negative political advertisements from the Dingell campaign. The ads claim that Steele plans to privatize social security, provide tax breaks to large corporations and decrease prescription drug coverage for senior citizens. But Steele said these accusations aren’t based in fact.
“My adult life has been taking care of people who have been on Social Security or Medicare,” Steele said. “So this idea that they want to paint me as someone who wants to eliminate these things which I flat out never said is fairly crazy.”
Furman, too, has no political experience and mirrored much of Steele’s concerns regarding Dingell’s politics.
Dingell has been directly involved with many of the problems currently plaguing the nation like the struggling economy, the housing crisis and the federal debt, Furman wrote.
“All this has taken place on John Dingell’s watch, and when taking a look at his voting record, it’s easy to see that he’s contributed to these problems,” Furman wrote.
Furman, who’s only 25-years old, wrote that he thinks his youth will play to his advantage in the election because it means he has no connections with large corporations or special interest groups.
“I don’t have 54 years of ties to big business and special interests,” Furman wrote. “I don’t owe anyone favors and I’m not owned by lobbyists.”
Furman wrote that he hopes voters are able to look beyond his age and instead focus on his political platform.
“I believe most voters are smart enough to base their decision on a candidate’s stances and solutions, not how many candles are on the cake,” Furman wrote.
Some of Furman’s other stances on policies include advocating for America to leave its membership position in the United Nations, cracking down on illegal immigration by enforcing stricter border control, eliminating citizenship by birthright and abolishing foreign aid to countries that demonstrate hostility, he wrote.
“My role models are the Founding Fathers,” Furman added. “My guide to government and policy is the Constitution. I’m a fighter for liberty, freedom and fiscal responsibility. I think that’s one hell of an improvement right there.”
Furman wrote that he hopes students look beyond the traditional two-party political system that has dominated American politics to date and strongly consider third-party candidates like himself.
“The future of America hangs in balance like a loose tooth,” Furman wrote. “And it’s the Republicans and Democrats that have brought us to this point.”