If you want to get an idea of what Republican revenge for President Obama’s victory in 2012 looks like, look no further than Michigan.
By now I’m sure you’ve heard that our beloved Gov. Rick Snyder, after swearing up and down for months that he had no plans whatsoever to introduce anti-union Right to Work legislation and saying everything but cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die I ain’t gonna do it, decided on Thursday to change his mind and gave his fellow Republican legislators the green light to move ahead. But not only did Snyder get behind the Right to Work legislation, he gave his blessing as the bill was shoved through without allowing for any committee hearings or public comment. The hell with public input, and the hell with democracy. Call in the Koch brothers and let’s get busy screwing the people.
From The Nation:
After Republican leaders announced Thursday morning that they intended to enact so-called “right to work” legislation—which is always better described as “no rights at work” legislation—the Michigan state House voted Thursday afternoon to eliminate basic union organizing and workplace protections that generations of American workers fought to establish. Several hours later, the Michigan state Senate did the same thing, as part of a bold anti-labor initiative launched in coordination with a Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity project to “pave the way for right to work in states across our nation.”
And in that spirit, Snyder is also moving ahead with legislation to replace Public Act 4, otherwise known as the Emergency Manager law, which was overturned by the voters on Nov. 6. Normally, the will of the voters would be respected and the Emergency Managers would be seeking a more honorable line of work, but King Snyder is not one to let a petty annoyance such as the will of the voters get in his way. If the people are so stupid that they cannot see his way is best, then Snyder believes his only option is to grind the voters beneath his heel as he sticks his middle finger in the eye of democracy and shoves his plan into place. Snyder wanted the Emergency Manager law which he got passed with the help of his solidly Republican legislature in 2011 because it gave him the power to enforce his will over the people without having to be bothered with what the people actually wanted. When that law was overturned (thanks largely to Detroit voters) Snyder decided right then and there that he was not going to sit still for such insubordination. No indeedy. Time to make a new law, and what better time than during the lame duck session when he can just ram it through?
Gov. Snyder has no interest in negotiating – or cooperating in any way – with anyone who does not share his views. He has a vision of how Michigan should be, and he is determined to create that Michigan whether the people of Michigan embrace his vision or not. This is what can happen when you have a former business executive elected to be leader of a government where, in theory at least, you are occasionally required to negotiate and consult with those who may have different views from your own. The government of Michigan is not a corporation, after all. It is not a business. It cannot be run like a business. Businesses do not give their employees the opportunity to elect their CEOs (although in some cases perhaps that might not be such a bad thing) and democracies do not give their leaders unfettered power to rule over the electorate however they wish.
I believe Gov. Snyder may finally be realizing that he is no longer a corporate CEO, and the limitations of being a publicly elected governor are causing him to climb the walls in frustration. So what does a frustrated ex-CEO do when he can’t just commandeer the power he believes he deserves to implement his will over and above all others?
Welcome to the Kingdom of Michigan.
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.