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Michigan Republican ignores history and dismisses compromise

Five months ago, Michigan Republicans nearly unseated their state chairman, Bobby Schostak, at their state convention.

Schostak is a successful fundraiser and commercial real estate developer. Until recently, he would have been seen as a hard-core conservative. But he wasn’t hard-core enough for 48 percent of the delegates to their annual state convention.

Those delegates voted for Todd Courser, an accountant and tax attorney from Lapeer. Courser lost that election, but if you saw the public affairs show Off The Record this weekend, it was clear he believes fervently in his own righteousness, and means for his troops to take over the GOP.

If he succeeds, and eventually manages to succeed Schostak, some may be in for a shock.

I glanced at Courser’s Facebook posts last night.

One of his most recent says, “What is worse, a clown in Missouri who wore a mask and impersonated Obama, or Obama impersonating a man who is qualified to be the leader of the free world? Just saying.” 

He also posted: “When looking at the uprising in Egypt and our role in the world, remember this is what democracy looks like. It’s ugly. Democracy is mob rule. We were set up as a republic, not a democracy. Democracy is tyranny by the majority.”

Courser also wants to force any Republican who disagrees to face a primary election challenge. He singled out State Rep. Al Pscholka, a leading supporter of right-to-work legislation.

Nevertheless, Courser despises him, because, he says “he voted for Medicaid expansion. We need to primary each one of these liberty killers in the house and senate!”

Why anyone thinks expanding health care is a “liberty killer” is beyond my grasp. But if you read the essays Courser posts on line, you will see that he believes that compromise is a dirty word, one he equates with “selfishness, cowardice, fecklessness.”

What if there is a contest in which neither candidate is sufficiently conservative?

Courser says, “where you find no difference in candidates, let the devil sort them out.”  Fervent Christianity is clearly a litmus test for Courser; in an essay posted on line, he says the first consideration for choosing a leader should be a “visible commitment to their faith ... a clear understanding of the foundation of the country, and our founding fathers’ history.” 

Except he really means his own fantasy history, because he denies that Thomas Jefferson was a deist, and says the Founding Fathers were “nearly all faith leaders.”

What isn’t clear to me is why Courser and those who think like he does are so bitterly opposed to Medicaid expansion. 

On Off the Record, Courser talked as if the mere idea of voting to give more people health insurance is evil.

My guess is that those like him feel this way because of their intense hatred of the federal government. They are especially angry at anything led by President Obama.

I have to wonder to what extent this is rooted in race, and perhaps related to the fact that Bobby Schostak happens to be Jewish. There were in fact a lot of differences between the Founding Fathers, but they did all believe in common sense and the separation of church and state.

I think we ignore that history at our peril.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in the essays by Jack Lessenberry are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee the University of Michigan.