The death of democracy?
I have been traveling around China for the past week and, despite the incredible growth of capitalism here, it’s clear that the government controls much of what happens in this beautiful country. From investments infrastructure that result in modern, butter-smooth highways to the wind energy installations that surround cities like Qingdao, the government is in charge of nearly everything that happens. The idea of “local control” isn’t really disputed.
As I read the reports about Michigan House Republicans passing Republican Rep. Earl Poleski’s anti-democratic House Bill 4052 which would strip the ability of local governments from passing local ordinances that conflict with the GOP’s utopian vision of total control of our state, it looks very much like Michigan is sliding rapidly toward the sort of totalitarian control that I see all around me in China.
“If we’re going to have a laboratory of democracy, far better for this House and the Senate down the hall to determine who should be tossed into the petri dish and how,” Rep. Poleski said in defense of his legislation. This approach to government control would mesh perfectly with the Chinese system.
The hypocrisy of this bill is, of course, clear and obvious. Republicans worship at the altar of local control and small government when the federal government passes regulations they don’t like. “Home rule” is sacrosanct in Republican circles. Or it once was until corporations began to exert their influence. Here in Michigan, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce is giddy over H.B. 4052. “The legislation reaffirms the authority of state government to govern private sector employers’ relations with their employees,” they said in a statement. “The Michigan Chamber’s support for HB 4052 is not about whether employers should offer a fair wage, leave time or any other particular benefit. Rather, for us, this bill is about who should make these decisions.”
If Democrats were in charge, their press release would have looked a lot different, of course. But with complete dominance of our state government by their bought-and-paid for Republican proxies, the voice of Big Business is happy to trumpet this as a victory.
Democracy is rapidly becoming a quaint notion in Michigan. If you needed any further proof beyond H.B. 4052, the fact that every draconian piece of legislation passed by Republicans now has an appropriation in it to prevent citizens from overturning it should be enough to convince you. If Republicans are successful in passing this bill into law, it will be a giant step toward totalitarianism in Michigan. Detroit Rep. LaTanya Garrett, a member of the House Commerce and Trade Committee, summed it up perfectly: “Not only have Republicans once again put profits before people, they have taken away the right of self-determination,” she said. “It’s simply appalling.”
It’s not just appalling. It’s frightening.