Different people pursue elected office for different reasons. For some, it’s a passion for the issues. For others, it’s the family business. Many politicians talk about hearing “a calling” for public service.
In Minnesota last week, Republican Aaron Miller was a surprise victor in the race to take on Rep. Tim Walz (D) this year, and after securing the nomination, Miller talked a bit about why he’s running. He mentioned, for example, that he wants to reduce the deficit and repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would be tricky, since repealing the ACA would make the deficit go up quite a bit.
But as the Mankato Free Press noted, that’s not the only thing driving Miller’s candidacy.
He also called for more religious freedoms. He repeated his story about his daughter returning home from school because evolution was being taught in her class. He said the teacher admitted to not believing in the scientific theory to his daughter but told her that the government forced him to teach the lesson.“We should decide what is taught in our schools, not Washington D.C.,” Miller said.Miller has declined to provide any more information to verify his story.
As Tim Murphy noted, this wasn’t the first time Miller, a hospital account manager and Iraq War veteran, “recounted this tale – it’s a staple of his stump speech.”
And for a variety of reasons, that’s a real shame.
First, if Miller’s daughter’s science teacher doesn’t believe in modern biology, and admits as much to his or her science class, Miller might want to have a chat with the local school board.
Second, if Miller believes federal policymakers in Washington are responsible for dictating curricula in Mankato, Minn., he’s been misinformed about the basics of educational policymaking. In reality, Minnesotans decide what’s taught in Minnesota’s public schools. Those who intend to go to Congress to help shut down federally mandated science classes are likely to be disappointed.
And finally, it is the 21st century. Complaining about science in science classes just doesn’t seem like a compelling rationale for a congressional candidacy.
Looking ahead, Miller is running in a very competitive district – President Obama carried it in 2012 by just one percentage point – though most consider Walz the favorite to win re-election.