What’s the Mayan word for “Tea Partier”?
Dear people who live outside of Michigan,
Michigan is a “blue state.” Democrats have won the state in every presidential election since 1992. Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama. Yet in blue Michigan, we know exactly what happens when Republicans take control of all three branches of state government: corporations win and people lose.
In less than two years we’ve seen a time bomb of tax increases for the poor, attacks on teachers and the introduction of a package of bills that will give us the most restrictive abortion rights laws in the country once the Republicans pass them in the next few weeks. But the Emergency Manager Law—and the Kafkaesque lengths the GOP has gone to keep it from being repealed—is probably the most egregious example of government overreach in the nation.
What’s going on Michigan—as Rachel Maddow, Eclectablog’s own Chris Savage and others have said—isn’t just an isolated example of rogue Republicans with an obscure agenda. It’s a preview of the kind of steamrolling corporate agenda you can expect if the GOP takes the White House and Congress in fall—thus the Supreme Court for the next generation.
The most dangerous conspiracies are usually the ones that happen in public. Dick Cheney saying we can’t wait for a smoking gun that’s a mushroom cloud. The chief fundraiser of the GOP appearing daily on national TV as a news “analyst.” Michigan Republicans ignoring the will of hundreds of thousands of citizens to keep a law that should send shudders down the spine of any so-called Tea Partier.
The worst conspiracies also often happen in slow motion.
In December 2009 when I arrived in Michigan, I thought I was going to see a Great Depression. Do not get me twisted. We’re in a depression now for people who don’t have a college education. But anyone who lives in Michigan knows the kind of grapes we were headed for.
In California, my wife was a qualified professional who had to be torn from her co-workers to make the move back to her home state. In Michigan, she was one name in an endless horizon of applicants with U of M degrees who couldn’t even get a call back. Temp agencies were flooded. Even some volunteer agencies were flooded with people eager to fill holes in their resumes.
Meanwhile, the auto industry was restructuring and healing, heading into a recovery so vast and unexpected that it has jolted the economies of Michigan and much of the Midwest back to life. This renewal was entirely the result of actions taken by the Governor Granholm, the President and his administration, despite the diabolical objections of pretty much just Mitt Romney.
But, before that recovery could rev up, voters went to the polls.
Economic insecurity—like all insecurity—drives people toward conservative/simple answers. This is was an ironic effect of a crisis created by conservative policies—something that was especially hard to explain when Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. So the small percentage of Michiganders who voted elected Republicans. Lots of them. A Republican governor along with Republican majorities in both state houses. And they came into power as the recovery heated up here sending our unemployment rate far below California’s.
The Michigan GOP’s tax increases for the elderly, cuts for the poor and massive tax breaks for corporations were boilerplate state Republican politics. And the Michigan GOP didn’t make the mistake of going immediately after union rights on a state-wide level the way Scott Walker did in Wisconsin. Instead, they went after the most impoverished communities, using the Emergency Manager Law, which gives them the power to tear apart union contracts, sell public assets and ignore elections.
The evidence shows that this law does not work and, worst of all, it is not designed to work.
At the heart of this is a desire to privatize public services, something Chris calls an “egregious transfer/siphoning of public resources, in this case tax revenues, to the private sector.” (I just want to know: Where is an example of a service being privatized in America that resulted in a better deal for taxpayers?)
Emergency Manager Laws are a right-wing think tank wet dream designed to wrest power from poor communities that refuse to vote Republican. The success in wresting public assets and good jobs from the middle class in Michigan has led to a similar law in Indiana. There’s no doubt if it successfully breaks unions and removes voters from the process of allocating funds there, it will spread everywhere.
So what do you do when you have a law that the public opposes? In Michigan, you circulate a petition to get enough signatures to get the question on the ballot alongside the names of many of the elected officials who voted for it.
Opponents of the Emergency Manger Law did just that.
Republicans claim to hate bureaucracy—but Michigan’s GOP then used the bureaucratic power they have from controlling nearly all of the state government to throw the petitions out because of FONT SIZE, a claim that FONT experts reject.
So opponents of the Emergency Manager Law sued. And what does a GOP-dominated court do?
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled today that the petitions for the repeal of Michigan’s Emergency Manager law did NOT comply with the law. This is despite the sworn printer’s affidavit and expert analysis proving otherwise.
Chris suggests this all about delaying. Either this kangaroo jostling will go on so long that the question will not be on the ballot in November, or proponents of overturning the law won’t have time to mount a proper campaign. It’s just another way the GOP is using their power to prevent voting from getting in the way of their agenda.
What’s at stake in Michigan is the right of people to elect their own officials and make their own decisions to govern themselves. The GOP increasingly recognizes that their own obstacle to implementing their agenda are elections. If they can use laws to keep people from voting and courts from keeping issues they don’t like on the ballot, what’s lost is not local control, but democracy itself.
Your pal LOL[CC image by Rhys Asplundh, who has a dope photostream | Flickr]