There was a time in Hansen Clarke’s life when the thing he wanted most in the world was to be a Congressman, back when he was twenty-five years old or so.
This year, that happened. He beat Detroit incumbent Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick in the Democratic primary a year ago, and then won an easy victory in his district, centered on his native east side of Detroit. Ever since, he’s been going a mile a minute.
“You know everybody told me that I needed to get experienced Washington staffers,” he said. But then “I found out what they knew how to do was tell me why things couldn’t be done and tell me I shouldn’t try.” Clarke’s an easygoing guy.
But he has small patience for that kind of attitude. Early on, someone told him that drafting and developing a complex piece of legislation could sometimes take up to a year. “I don’t have a year,” he told me. “Neither does Detroit or the nation.”
But Clarke told me he had learned an important lesson. He said he was now getting things done because he didn’t know that he couldn’t do them. This happened last month with the administration’s Homeland Security budget. The budget zeroed out funds for Detroit.