As the frothing-at-the-mouth wing of the Republican Party continues to march forward in goose-step formation with their voter suppression strategy – and other ethically questionable strategies designed to wreak havoc on the House that Barack Built – some very strange things are happening. It seems that not all Republicans are on board. Strangely enough, some Republicans appear to be awakening from their lengthy slumber and reclaiming their right to think for themselves.
Gov. Rick Snyder, who campaigned on the slogan that he was “one tough nerd”, has made a point from the very beginning of his administration to keep himself at arm’s length from the nuttiest of the nut fringe in his party. Smart move. And earlier this week he made another very smart move by refusing to sign legislation favored by a number of Republicans in the Michigan Legislature who wanted to add Michigan to that list of states that are working overtime to prevent any and all voters most likely to vote for President Obama from ever making it to the polls.
From the July 4, 2012 Detroit News:
Lansing— Gov. Rick Snyder set off political fireworks Tuesday by vetoing Republican bills that would have required a photo ID for absentee voting, restricted voter registration drives and mandated a ballot box affirmation of citizenship.
Citing concern the three bills might confuse voters, Snyder’s veto hat trick represented the first major rejection of legislation from his fellow Republicans, who control the Legislature, during his 18-month tenure as Michigan’s chief executive.
The Republican governor rejected a requirement in House Bill 5061 allowing an absentee ballot to be tossed if the voter fails to affirm his or her U.S. citizenship on Election Day.
“I am concerned (the bill) could create voter confusion among absentee voters,” Snyder wrote in a veto letter to legislators.
Snyder also took issue with the Legislature’s attempt in Senate Bill 803 to make voters affirm their U.S. citizenship when obtaining an absentee ballot by checking a box — leaving the sponsor of the vetoed bill miffed.
“What the heck could be confusing about that?” said Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evert, about the U.S. citizenship question. “If it confuses you if you’re a citizen or not, maybe you should check that out.”
Snyder also vetoed Senate Bill 754, which would have required third-party groups like the League of Women Voters who have been registering people to vote for decades to get mandatory training by the Secretary of State’s office or county election clerks. He said the bill “may cause confusion with regard to voter registration efforts.”
Susan Smith, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan, said the bill would have disproportionately affected seniors, young people and minorities who are more likely to register to vote through drives put on by volunteer organizations.
“Fortunately, the governor saw that this was a bill that was not only unnecessary, but put up barriers, obstacles for certain parts of the population,” Smith said.
But the interesting thing is Snyder doesn’t seem to care about the pushback that he is getting. This guy is proving to be more interesting all the time. Probably because he can see which way the wind is blowing and he would rather be reviled by itty-bitty-brained Tea Party types and re-elected than celebrated as a faithfully rigid idealogue who held the line against the onslaught of common sense – and lost.
But don’t get it twisted. This doesn’t mean that Gov. Snyder has now magically become Brother Snyder. No. He is not ‘one of us’. Be clear about that. Snyder’s crafting of the disastrous PA4, the Emergency Manager law, which has essentially hijacked democracy in several predominantly black and poor Michigan municipalities should be all the proof anyone needs that he is not the man we need to be supporting for a second term in office. But as much as I disagree with the vast majority of his agenda, I have to say, when looking at the other Republicans in his class who reached the governor’s mansion in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin? Hey, it could have been worse. A lot worse.
Oh and by the way, it’s starting to look more and more like PA4 is going to be placed on the ballot, which means the law itself will be suspended until after the November election. This is great news, and stay tuned. It’s been a helluva fight, but we may actually be winning for a change.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.