Speaking at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday, President Obama veered slightly off topic to address the horrific water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Relating to how the parents in Flint must be feeling, Obama said, “I know that if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kids’ health could be at risk.”
The President concluded, “It is a reminder of why you can’t shortchange basic services that we provide to our people and that we, together, provide as a government to make sure that the public health and safety is preserved.”
The President said (in part, via White House transcript):
I want to pick up briefly on something that Cindy said, and that is just to talk for a second about what’s happening in Flint. I am very proud of what I’ve done as President — (applause) — but the only job that’s more important to me is the job of father. And I know that if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself that my kids’ health could be at risk. And that’s why, over the weekend, I declared a federal emergency in Flint to send more resources on top of the assistance that we’ve already put on the ground. We’ve designated a federal coordinator to make sure the people of Flint get what they need from their country.
Yesterday, I met with Mayor Weaver in the White House, in the Oval Office, and I told her that we are going to have her back and all the people of Flint’s back as they work their way through this terrible tragedy. It is a reminder of why you can’t shortchange basic services that we provide to our people and that we, together, provide as a government to make sure that the public health and safety is preserved.
This is a “reminder of why you can’t shortchange basic services that we provide to our people”. In this one sentence, President Obama explained why the water crisis stems from a basic failure in Republican ideology.
President Obama distilled the Flint crisis to the core of the debate between conservatives and liberals. Liberals believe government serves a purpose. One of its purposes is to provide checks and balances against what can be the greed motives of private industry, in order to protect public health and safety.
In Flint, the Republican Governor’s appointed (not elected) emergency manager decided it would save money if he poisoned everyone. So he did. Clearly the profit motive is not always the best choice and this is the reason we have a government that is supposed to operate with the people’s interests in mind.
Unfortunately, children are very susceptible to lead poisoning, which should be another nail in the Republican “pro-life” claims. When the people tried to make the decision makers aware of the problem, they were blown off. In a democracy that is operating properly, regulations and oversight are speed bumps that would catch something like this before it impacted so many innocent lives. But democracy is not working as it should in Michigan.
When “government” fails the people because a Republican in is in charge and they are trying to privatize government services and appointing people to positions that used to be accountable through elections, they can hide like Kings from the people and when finally called out, blame the people who work for them and blame the “federal government” – as if the federal government should have done a better job babysitting Rick Snyder.
True to form, Rick Snyder blamed the workers and blamed the feds for his mistakes and this man-made disaster will be used by Republicans to further defund government but it wasn’t government that failed. No, no. It was the ideology of the Republican Party that failed. This ideology has been so warped by corporate interests that it isn’t a genuine philosophy any more. At least not as it’s practiced by the Republican Party currently.
This is a failure but it was a predictable one. This is one of the many reasons why we made a government that is responsible to the people. Republicans act as if there is no valid reason for oversight and then when things go wrong under them, as they so often do due to their willful denial, they cry that the feds should have babysat them better.
They should be held to their whines. So let the Justice Department investigate/babysit Rick Snyder.