By DREW HOWARD
Chris Smith, a long-time criminal justice and public policy professor at Michigan State University, considers himself to be the “most progressive” candidate running to represent Michigan’s 8th congressional district.
Many of Smith’s proposed policies run in direct contrast to views held by President Trump and his administration. He said he felt a sense of urgency to run for public office following the results of the November 2016 election.
“My sense was that this is a crisis to have Donald Trump and his people making decisions,” Smith said. “We see that playing out with the tax giveaway to the richest Americans and the dismantling of environmental protections, dismantling the American role in diplomacy, and especially with doing nothing in response to Russia attacking our electoral system.”
Smith is quick to set himself apart from his opponents, Democrat Elissa Slotkin and incumbent Republican Mike Bishop, on several key policies, the first being his stance on healthcare. “I’m the only candidate who advocates for Medicare for all and single-payer universal healthcare,” Smith said. “I’m watching Mike Bishop and he’s silent on all of this – he’s a participator in taking healthcare away.”
Smith also says he’s the only candidate against building oil and gas pipelines of any sort underneath the Great Lakes. He believes an investment in renewable energy would reduce the need for such pipelines.
He is especially outspoken about gun control. In a video posted on his official website, Smith compares the challenges of purchasing a Chevy Traverse versus an AR-15. “To get this [Chevy Traverse], I had to take drivers ed, I had to take a test, I had to get a license, I had to keep it registered every year, and I have to have liability insurance,” he says in the video. “To get this [AR-15], you don’t need much, and that doesn’t make any sense.”
He dove into more specifics on gun control when speaking with Gazette. “Let’s talk about very specific things, starting with no more sales of military style guns, in addition to background checks, waiting periods, licensing, insurance, and raising the age to 21,” he said.
Smith also felt called to run for office due to his “unique” job flexibility at MSU, which allows him to leave and come back at any time with a position waiting for him. His 30-plus year career has been focused on teaching and writing about public policy, law, American government and criminal justice, in addition to authoring more than 20 books and 100 scholarly articles.
As a candidate who’s not a “career politician,” Smith says his educational and professional background should be taken into serious consideration. “As someone who has done research and written books about public policy issues, I think I’m in a good position to say we need evidence-based policy,” he said.“Let’s use knowledge from the tools of science to construct public policies that will solve problems.”
He adds that, if elected, his primary focus wouldn’t be on trying to stay in office. “When I get to Congress I’m not going in thinking ‘oh boy, I’m going to have this long career,’” he said. “I’m going to look in the mirror and say I tried to do what was best for the country, to solve problems without caring if that will cause someone to vote for or against me.”
For more information about Chris Smith, including his policies, background and upcoming speaking engagements, visit chrissmithformich.com.