The good fight was fought
After the devastating result on Tuesday to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Michigan Rising, the group who organized two efforts to recall Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, has decided to end its signature gathering. It’s a smart decision given the apparent lack of enthusiasm, interest and level of involvement by Michiganders from the highest levels of the Michigan Democratic Party and unions to the ground level grassroots volunteers. A sparse turnout at their kickoff rally was only one of many symptoms of what appears to be a malaise that has infected progressive activists in Michigan. This only became more apparent as they reached June 1st with only a few thousand signatures, well below what would be needed to be successful.
Ending the recall attempt now allows efforts to be focused more intensely on the election of democrats at every level, particularly in our state legislature. It is important to realize that the Wisconsin results had a glimmer of good news. With the victory of Democrat John Lehman over Republican Van Wanggaard in Wisconsin’s 21st state senate district, the Wisconsin senate is now majority Democrat. Because of that, Scott Walker no longer has the ability to do whatever he wishes to do.
The situation is the same in Michigan. If we can flip just a handful of seats from Republican to Democrat, we can turn the House blue and make sure that not a single piece of legislation hits the desk of Rick Snyder that doesn’t have a the Democratic seal of approval on it.
Michigan Rising says they will shift to becoming a “think tank” to rival the conservative think tanks. I’m dubious about such a claim and about think tanks in general. Also, Progress Michigan already fills this niche and it is unnecessary for there to be two competing progressive groups of this nature. It seems to me that their efforts are better spent on the state House and Senate elections that are so critically important to stopping the Republican juggernaut in our state. Perhaps this is what they will do.
My hat is off to them and to all of the volunteers for Michigan Rising and the Committee to Recall Rick Snyder before them. Thousands of you worked hard for an uncertain outcome because you believed in the cause. The lack of success is simply an outcome of the lack of involvement by key parties that could have made a significant difference, the difficulty of the task itself and the lack of experience of those who led the effort. It is not a reflection of the passion, hard work and dedication of the volunteers who gave their time, energy and sweat in the attempt.
Here is the press release from Michigan Rising, released this morning:
Effort to Recall Governor Snyder Enters New Phase as Recall Effort Ends
Michigan Rising has been deeply impressed by the energy and passion shown by the thousands of volunteers and petition signers over the past 15 months. Michigan residents from all walks of life have demonstrated a commitment to one goal: stopping the corporate takeover of Michigan. Michigan Rising attempted to accomplish this goal through an effort to Recall Governor Rick Snyder.
“It has become abundantly clear that Michigan Rising was not going accomplish its goal of recalling Governor Snyder. The results in Wisconsin crystalized how difficult a task it is to recall a sitting governor, even when the unions and the Democratic Party play a significant role in the effort. To quote the words of Senator Ted Kennedy, ‘The work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives and the dream shall never die,’” said Communications Director Bruce Fealk.
The recall effort was well short of its benchmark to have 200,000 petition signatures by June 1.
Michigan Rising as of Thursday, June 7, 2012, will no longer be collecting signatures to recall Governor Snyder. The fact that Wisconsin could not oust Governor Walker after 16 months of protests and gathering over 1 million signatures makes it clear how difficult it is to recall a governor and why it has only been successful twice in U.S. history.
However, Michigan Rising is not giving up on the goal of stopping the corporate takeover of our beloved state. Michigan Rising will be transitioning from a recall effort into a long term project to develop a progressive think tank to rival conservative think tanks, and develop progressive leaders and support current progressive legislators.
Corporate interests proved, yet again, that a huge funding gap can influence the ballot box.
Our volunteers aren’t finished. You’ll soon see Michigan Rising volunteers raising awareness of Governor Snyder’s tactics, fighting to protect union rights and working to restore the social safety net and becoming progressive leaders.
Julius Muller, Michigan Rising’s CEO said, “We will continue to forge ahead in this battle against the corporate takeover of Michigan. While our tactics will change and our processes adapt, our goal to preserve democracy remains. I believe our decision to end this campaign is the right one. It will allow Michigan Rising to explore more viable options and free our network of supporters and volunteers to focus on more feasible opportunities through which we can achieve the victories necessary for democracy to ultimately prevail.”
We might be putting down the clipboards, but we’re revving up. We’re going to Occupy This Governor. We want to create a think tank to advance the best ideas for Michigan – not the most convenient ideas money can buy. We’re going to get out the vote in the August and November elections.