“I think my responsibility first and foremost is to represent the people who elected me,” Schock told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “It’s not to a demographic, to a sex, or even a race.”
Schock’s politics back this up. He is a Republican representing a solidly conservative district in western and central Illinois, which he won in 2009 at the age of 27. He was just re-elected for the third time in the 2014 midterms. As a pro-life, pro-gun opponent of gay marriage, his views align with his constituency more than his generation. However, Schock thinks that some of his peers will come around.
“Throughout the country’s history, people who are younger tend to be more liberal on social issues, and as they get married and get older they tend to be more conservative,” Schock said.
The young congressman has gradually gained experience and power in the House. He serves on the highly influential Ways and Means Committee, the Committee on the Budget, and he plays a key role in setting legislative votes, priorities, and coalitions as the Senior Deputy Republican Whip.
He’s also worked on national security and immigration issues. Ramos asked him to respond to the extremist attack on Charlie Hebdo journalists in Paris and whether he is concerned about similar attacks domestically.
“Our country, with the establishment of the Homeland Security Department after 9/11, and all the tools we’ve given our government to keep us safe, has done a good job ensuring the maximum amount of safety with minimum freedom given up,” Schock said.
Schock also discussed how the new Republican-controlled congress might address President Obama’s executive action on immigration, including changes to the government funding he works on closely.
“What we’re looking to do in the next six weeks, eight weeks is reign in some of the president’s illegal activity, that he said over twenty times he didn’t have the illegal authority to do, and put our funding in line with the rule of law,” Schock said. “And with the issue of immigration, push the House and Senate to pass immigration reform that does not only affect those waiting in line but puts our immigration system in line with the economic needs of our country.”
Personally, Schock hasn’t had an easy road as a fresh face in the Grand Old Party. His prolific use of social media and generally un-Washingtonian openness have made him a target of everyone from gossip sites to Stephen Colbert. Yet it’s an approach that Schock thinks is important for improving public perceptions of Republicans and Congress as a whole.
“I think people want to know members of Congress are real, and I think one of the things members of Congress don’t do well is showing a human side,” Schock said. “Our constituents, they see us in a suit and tie.”
When Ramos pointed out that many have seen him shirtless, Schock explained why he stripped down.
“When I did Men’s Health, on a summer fitness challenge, one thing elected officials don’t want to talk about is the biggest driver of healthcare costs is overutilization,” Schock said. “And the reason for that is two-thirds of our country is obese and overweight.”
Schock is going to keep increasing his political reps as well. Soon enough, we’ll see how fit he is to lead an evolving, fragmented party that could certainly use some more muscle.
For the entire interview: