I listened to an interview with Markwayne Mullin, a new member of the House of Representatives, and had a hard time believing my ears. It wasn't that he was inarticulate or stupid. It was that he was so utterly smug, so absolutely and entirely certain of himself. He has no doubts. He knows exactly what ails the country -- too much government -- and he knows how to fix it -- lower taxes, less regulation, more free untrammeled capitalism. He does not seem to be aware that the United States of America is a big, complicated, multi-faceted country. Markwayne Mullin possesses all the arrogance of ignorance, in spades.
Here's some proverbial wisdom: "For every complex problem, there's a simple solution, and it's wrong."
My father, who was not a military man, always liked to vote for people who had served in the Army or Navy. "At least," he would say, "they have met people from other parts of the country. Maybe they've served abroad and seen something of the world."
Markwayne Mullin hasn't served in the military and there's no evidence on his website that he's traveled far from his home of Westville (population 1596) in Adair County in eastern Oklahoma. Here is Main Street, Westville:
He went off to college (Missouri Valley College, which, curiously, doesn't teach foreign languages) but didn't stay long. His website says he's a successful businessman, a plumber. More precisely (and I'll let his prose speak for itself), "Mullin is proud to have turned a family trade into a thriving business. Mullin Plumbing is most recognized due to its advertising and the more than 100 employees known for their hallmark red vans visible servicing Oklahomans across the state. For his part, Markwayne personally promotes the company through television and radio advertising. One of his favorite jobs is to produce and host the radio call-in talk show “House Talk.”
His positions are straightforward and clear (and red, red, red) -- an entirely unoriginal litany of right-wing simplicities and pieties.
We are taxed enough. Cutting spending, not raising taxes, is the answer to paying down debt.
The 2nd Amendment is crucial to ensuring our freedom.
Excessive government regulations, like those promulgated by the EPA, harm job growth.
We must restrain an out-of-control bureaucracy.
Life — from the moment of conception to natural death — is sacred. I am a 100 percent pro-life conservative.
Our United States troops must NEVER be under control of the United Nations.
We spend too much on foreign aid. Our challenges here at home must come first.
Private industry creates jobs. The government creates dependency.
Traditional marriage, between one man and one woman, is a sacred institution that must be preserved. Strong, healthy families are the heartbeat of our nation.
Parents should have final decision-making authority in the education of their children, because they know better than Washington, D.C., bureaucrats how to best educate their children.
ObamaCare must be repealed.
Ensuring access to quality, affordable health care is one of America’s greatest challenges today. The free market will meet the challenge if the government will get out of the way. We must cautiously seek comprehensive reform that protects the solvency of Medicare and Medicaid.
We must protect America’s borders to stop illegal immigration. Amnesty proposals should be rejected.
Penalties should be strengthened against illegal immigration and law enforcement given the resources for enforcement.
If it had been one of those call-in radio shows, I would have liked to ask Mr Mullin a couple of questions, such as, how are we going to get the lettuce picked and the roof fixed without all those immigrant laborers? How come life expectancy is lower in the US than in socialist Europe, even though we spend more on health care? How much do we actually spend on "foreign aid"? Who exactly wants to put US troops under the control of the United Nations? Are people like me, retired teachers who worked only for the government, really all that dependent? and compared to whom? Who's attacking your traditional marriage that you need to get all in a twist about other people's marriages? How come when a not-for-profit hospital is taken over by a for-profit hospital, the mortality rate immediately rises? To whom should we turn when the cantaloupe is contaminated? Should we worry about global warming? Should we be concerned by the concentration of wealth among the top 1% of families.What happens when a big hunking tornado rips through Adair County?
My hope is that Markwayne Mullin, who as he begins his congressional career is superficial to the very core of his being, will come to Washington, meet some folks from different parts of the country and from different ethnic backgrounds, learn a little about the world, come to an appreciation of the complexity of things, and grow up to be a useful broad-minded compassionate public servant. It's not impossible, but it's not going to happen until Mullin realizes that he doesn't know everything about everything, and that the practices that made Mullin Plumbing such a success may not be the same practices that will promote the general welfare over all of the US of A.
I'm hopeful, but frankly, I'm not at all optimistic.