My Member of Congress Is Better Than Your Member of Congress

Unless you live and vote in New Jersey’s 12th Congressional district, that is, in which case your member of Congress is the highly intelligent and articulate, C.P. Snow-quoting, Ph.D.-holding, science-championing, youth activism-praising Rush Holt. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview Holt for Campus Progress. Here’s my favorite part, after I asked Holt about the many colleges and universities in his district:

I came of age in the 1960s, and so I have long believed in the power of students. I watched students bring down a president and begin to change a war. Ultimately, it didn’t quite happen—bringing Vietnam to a sane and a rapid end—but nevertheless I have seen the power of students. I have always believed in it. Sometimes, I have longed for it to come back, and in spurts it has. I think Campus Progress is very promising; it’s knowledge-based activism. It’s not just activism for activism’s sake, flailing out about everything, but it’s combining good policy analysis with activism. So I hope that it achieves its potential, and I am encouraged by promising signs in recent years of student activism. At colleges and universities, I think, students should be sharpening their values, because much of the rest of life is designed to wear away at those values, to round the corners, to blur the sharp distinctions, to really weaken one’s principles. And so you want to be as sharp as possible when you’re in an environment where you’re able to do that. Traditionally, going back over the centuries, that’s what a university was supposed to be. It was not a trade school—it was an environment for a moral education, a policy education, as well as a so-called “classical” education. Too often, I think, the non-trade-school part of the university education is lost, and so I hope Campus Progress helps fill that dimension.

Unlike some members of Congress I could name, he even got the organization’s name right.

But seriously: I decided to switch my voter registration to New Jersey because I was tired of getting form letters from Duncan Hunters pere and fils of the CA-52 (the son succeeded the father in the last election) gently suggesting that we agree to disagree about reproductive rights, immigration, same-sex marriage, the stimulus, and a variety of other issues. There is little point, I think, in being represented in Congress by a representative who doesn’t represent you. Most of what I knew about Holt before I registered in NJ was that he was a Democrat and a physicist, which was good enough for me. But the more I read about him—particularly after doing this interview with him—the more I’m proud to be represented in Congress by someone so intelligent, and who so much stands for the governing—and societal—values that I believe in.

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