I don’t have any delusions about the political leanings of most of my classmates. National polls of college students show that about 60 percent of us identify as Democrats, or lean that way. My personal experience at Trinity confirms this. So why, you may ask, am I trying to persuade you to vote for Republican Lamar Smith? Of course I think he’s the best for the 21st District of Texas. But I think I may be able to convince some of my peers as well. I also think that in a lot more cases than you’d expect, your views align with the positions of Lamar Smith and the Grand Old Party. There are a lot of things I could talk about. When you’ve been in the House for 30 years like Congressman Smith has, there are dozens of successes worth mentioning.
A few months back, I had the chance to briefly meet Mr. Smith. I was attending an event in support of Susan Narvaiz, the Republican candidate for the 35th District (and another wonderful person), and Lamar Smith was there as well. He didn’t have long to spend, as he had other places to be, but I was able to introduce myself. He was a polite and somewhat quiet person, and I was pleased to see that my Representative was so level-headed and kind.
To start talking about policy, I’d like to talk about Congressman Smith’s record on the environment. While it’s true he has supported numerous measures to increase the production of fossil-fuel based energy, he has also supported measures to encourage the development of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient products. In fact, he introduced legislation (that became law) in 2007 that incentivizes hybrid cars, provides grants for solar energy and increases standards for corporate-fuel efficiency and energy efficiency of appliances. And there’s a reason that he’s able to support both these kinds of legislation, and why I see them both as a plus. While it is true we need to protect the environment, we also need to make sure that the average American consumer isn’t hurt in the process. While we’re developing the technologies that will provide the energy for decades to come, we need to make sure that the energy sources we’re using now, namely coal and oil, are affordable for the people who rely on them today. Congressman Smith has a record of that.
In 2008, Congressman Smith supported the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which helped make college more affordable for students and their families, especially those students with intellectual disabilities. He also introduced legislation that would make college more affordable for low-income students entering STEM fields. He has sponsored legislation to help small businesses and entrepreneurs.
These are real, tangible things that Congressman Smith has done in the House to help his constituents. I’m not asking you to agree with everything he’s done or stands for. I don’t. But if you weren’t planning to support him, I ask you to reconsider your decision. I do think it’s clear that Lamar Smith has been good for the 21st District of Texas and the U.S. as a whole. His experience as the former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and current Chairmanship of the Science, Space and Technology Committee is invaluable. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the candidate who’s proven time and again that he has our best interests in mind.
Luke Ayers is a sophomore economics major. Find him on Twitter @LukeAyersATX