The contentious nature of Proposal 1 has been well documented on these pages and both Chris Savage and I have taken a great deal of criticism and of have been the recipients less than honorable insults from some of you who believe that to disagree on an issue somehow makes us instant conservatives or “slackies” for the Right. Of course that is not based in fact or reality, but I knew it was coming weeks ago after I wrote my first piece endorsing Proposal 1 and my reasons why, my factual reasons why, I was supporting it were met with not a single fact in return as to why you opposed it. Lots of philosophy and ideology, which we all agreed on as well, but there seemed to be memory gaps as people passionately defended their progressive outrage of what this package of bills represents.
Well, the voters have spoken loud and VERY clear. By a 20% to 80% margin, Michiganders have said no to Proposal 1. The results were even worse than the polls predicted and voter turnout was as miserable as I suspected it would be. Yes, you now have your moral victory and you can wake up today knowing that what you wanted, you got. But in reality, what you really did was lose by winning, and let me share with you why. But first, allow me a slight detour before I get there, please.
For the past eight weeks I spent numerous hours speaking with groups, organizations, neighborhood associations, etc. sharing my foundational beliefs of what Proposal 1 would and could provide. I met with friendly groups, not so friendly groups and everything in between. It was a learning experience that was at times difficult and frustrating and at other times empowering and positive.
So, in case you are wondering how I am feeling this morning, let me be honest. I am not mad, bitter or disappointed. I am devastated. Not because what I wanted didn’t happen. As anyone in politics knows, we lose a lot more than we win. I’m devaastated because the fight to fund the roads has only begun and I know without ever having to pause to think about it that the debate, the lies, the pain and suffering, and the assault on the poor and the children of this state – not to mention our seniors, our teachers, our communities, and the fine men and women who serve us as police officers, firefighters, city workers, and others – will once again be kicked to the shoulder of the road with all of the grace of kicking road kill off of the middle of the road.
Those of us who live in the middle class and continue to struggle to find our way to financial freedom will be further oppressed, maligned, and discriminated against with policy decisions and legislative action that will again place the burden of funding what at this point is an obvious MUST in fixing our roads on the shoulders of those who can least afford it. You see, what you “won” by a massive voter message yesterday is an opportunity to have front row seats to the dismantling of your state. The last hope we had of having a voice on how to fund the repair of our roads and bridges and the rebuilding of our transportation infrastructure is completely gone, off the table, and it vanished a piece at a time with every single no vote. Yes, you did win, but you didn’t get what you want, and if you are being honest, you have to admit that. You won’t, but in your heart, you know that it is true.
Please read this article that appears in today’s Detroit Free Press. It detaild ten potential plans to fix the roads, some seemingly more palatable than others, with analysis and the likeliness of their passing. These are good guesses and you will note that some of them, in a GOP dominated-government that lords over us all, will be the plan THEY decide that is best for us. Yes, the same GOP-dominated legislature that took day one of this new legislative session to claim as their priorities to adopt personhood legislation, to eliminate the excellence and protection that is called prevailing wage, to propose and then embrace hateful legislation that discriminates against the LGBTQ community, and many others, to deny our most needy children in foster care and in the adoption process a loving and caring family. This is the same legislature that is talking about reviving a Religious Freedom Reclamation Act. A legislature that is attempting to take Right to Work and make it MORE biting by forcing organized labor to spend wasted monies recertifying already agreed to and established unions in the workplace.
This is the same legislature that that is balancing the budget by eliminating money for at-risk schools – and yes, you read that right: eliminating the funding for at-risk schools. Stripping out funding to make sure that third-graders can read at the third-grade level, and also stripped out every penny in the budget for adult education.
This is the same legislature that you say you don’t trust, yet you just handed them exactly what they wanted, and you know it. This is the same legislature that stole pension monies from our senior citizens and who have disgraced the teaching profession. This is the same government that is readying themselves to eliminate health insurance coverage for the 600,000 people who through the expansion of Medicaid are insured and for many of them for the first time. Yes, starting next year that state will have to pay 5% of the cost of insuring these people and the rest is guaranteed through the federal government, but no one has any illusion that the legislature will “find” the 5% to keep this critical and obviously needed program going strong.
Yes, you won. You got your victory and as a result you now get to watch your futures and the futures of those you care about to be dismantled and we will all get our asses handed to us.
Yes, I am devastated, because I get to watch it, too. I get to talk about it on my show every day and I get to experience how cuts that are guaranteed to be made will impact those who can least afford it. And NO, I am not using fear, as I was accused all too often during the fight to defend and promote Prop 1. I am telling the truth and sometimes the truth is filled with fear. This is one of those times.
I am seriously disappointed with the Michigan Democratic Party for taking a non-position on Prop 1 and tired of the excuses I get from our community and state leaders that the regressive nature of the tax, all of the “pork” in this Proposal was going to fat cats, etc. That was just not based in any reality if you would have just taken a step back and saw this for what it imperfectly did and now will never do.
So what happens to school funding? How about the Earned Income Tax Credit increase? Revenue sharing for municipalities? Money to help kick-start mass transit? Paying down bonds that cripple the road funding process? What will happen to this and everything else that was a part of Proposal 1?
You won and I lost and I will get over it and we will find many others issues we will agree are critical and imperative to fight for. Of course we will. We will heal from our divide and move on, as we always do, but there will not be a day that goes by from this day forward that your no vote will not come back to bite you in the ass and there will be constant reminders that you won. Drip by painful drip you will be rewarded with your victory as you, your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers will find out what regressive really is. I feel for all of us, but you did win, so congratulations. How does it really feel?