I’ve been in a deeply contemplative mood of late. Not quite sure why, but normally it’s been my experience in that some esoteric way whether it’s God, spirit, Mother Earth, or whatever deity that you identify with, is trying to lead me to a certain direction and very certain outcomes. That’s the easy part. The hard part, quite honestly, is figuring out if I’m being pulled at or pushed and there are days that I just can’t tell the difference. I think many of us have had that experience.
Politically, we find ourselves kind of in a political hiatus. Now, that’s not entirely true, as many municipalities including the city of Detroit have decidedly important leadership positions to fill not to mention other communities that will be electing school board members, City Council members, mayors, etc.
On the show I’ve been talking about getting engaged and involved with a campaign at the local level and or a variety of reasons this makes sense, mostly because you should be involved in your community politically especially if there is something going on in your community, politically. Of course in local elections the primary, which will be in August, almost always settles who will win in November. Now that is not always true and I can make a compelling argument as to why it’s not true especially in the city of Detroit, but for the purposes of this message just assume for the sake of argument, and perhaps even reality, that these are decidedly critical elections and they need to be honored as such.
For those of you who listen to the show, you know I have had candidates on, mostly from the city of Detroit, but others as well. I hearken back to my days as a candidate when I unsuccessfully ran for Congress and I remember those hot summer days, trying to stay cool, and in making sure I put in my call time to raise money every single day. To say that I was anything but a model candidate would be true. About the only thing I had going for me was that I could talk around anybody on any issue with facts and with purpose, and with pride. That actually did bring me quite a few votes. But at the end of the day my opponent won and I went home to sulk for a while and try to put my life back together and with some success was able to do just that.
Now back to contemplation. As a result of the overwhelming and ever present glorification of the best-funded candidate when, and it kind of grates me like fingers on a chalkboard. And since I’m selling honesty today I’ve got a little for you: the money does matter, whether we like it or not. Certainly there are exceptions to that rule and there always will be but that does not mean that by and large the person who raises and spends the most money normally does take the price.
Again, using my campaign as an example, I had a massive volunteer base that saved me time and were effective in getting the message out and making the voters of my congressional district much more aware of who I was and what I stood for without having to spend a boatload of money. Being that my opponent raised $900,000 and I’d barely raised $200,000 to only lose by seven points, well, it was kind of a gift and a wonderful surprise. But sadly, at the end of the day I did not win!
Gerrymandering has continued to be not just a hot topic but also a dastardly reality that basically, because they drew the maps, the Republicans screwed us hard without even a kiss when they were done. I don’t completely buy into the fact that every gerrymandered district will fall the way it is intended. Now, I am not naïve, but I do know with great certainty that there are state House and Senate seats and congressional seats that with the right candidate with the right message at the right time, and with the right amount of money, can win with a lot of hard work and an immense amount of dedication to the campaign. I cannot underscore enough how critical the candidate’s attitude and willingness to kick ass makes a difference in whether or not they can even be competitive in a gerrymandered district. I almost want to tell you that the team that you put together can be the X factor, but that would be selling this message short and would really not represent the true and honest discussion we have to have about gerrymandered districts.
I’ll apologize up front if it seems like I’m meandering too much with this message, but contemplation often means that there are a variety of issues rushing through your mind and your trying to catch them all, write them down, and put them into action before you forget or, perhaps more appropriately, get scared.
Okay, back to my contemplation. For the purposes of this exercise I’d like to focus on the man who would be governor, Rick Snyder. Now, if you’re wondering why I worded that the way I did, that is the man who would be governor; it’s because I’m not totally convinced that he really is the governor.
Rick Snyder is not a stupid man, in fact I could easily make an argument that there’s some brilliance in the way he perceives and then plows forward. The problem, and it’s a big problem, is that he continues to believe and he wants us to buy into this idea that we are customers that he is the boss and that as long as the bosses staff treats the customers with equal parts of jubilation and respect, well then, there’s not much more he can do. Of course, therein lies the problem.
Like most everything this governor does, I’m never quite sure what to take at face value or if what he’s saying is more like a Sudoku puzzle. Now, to be honest, Gov. Rick Snyder makes me very nervous. This is not a criticism but more observation, and maybe it really doesn’t matter, but my biases are clear as a result of what I do for a living but I’m not sure if the governor’s worse when he is reading from prepared remarks or speaking off-the-cuff, and maybe at the end of the day that is just nitpicky, but I think not.
One of the true challenges of leadership is knowing how to communicate with your public and it is become increasingly clear that Rick Snyder has missed that mark by a huge margin, in my opinion. His ongoing message of relentless positive action just reeks of inauthentic and insincere messaging. It is also become crystal clear as a result of his inner circle of secret organizations, like skunk works, and the call center committee, which by the way was purposely left in the dark, you no longer have to wonder what he’s up to, or even what his motive is, then is fairly clear, which should be disturbing to all of us, and I’m not sure why it’s not, the fact that he believes that government works best in the dark when there isn’t an a shred of data, data being the key word there governor, that supports your method of leadership, if that is what you are trying to do.
We now see that long before Kevin Orr was hired by the state to dismantle the city of Detroit and sell out its citizens of its most precious and dignified possessions that he, and his consultant and treasurer Andy Dillon were deeply involved in negotiations with this emergency financial manager to come to Detroit without following the rules of engagement and Gov. Snyder’s wholesale disregard for the citizens of Detroit is sadly all too transparent now and unless the courts rule otherwise, and I have no reason to believe that this will happen one way or the other, that not only were laws broken, laws were ignored.
I have a very strong sense of purpose about what the city of Detroit can and should be. I have had on my show many people who exemplify that strong sense of purpose and are willing to do whatever it takes to make the city and its residents thrive, but we know by their actions that the time for strength and idea sharing is long past and there actually may be plenty of facts to support that, whether I like it or not. Remember, I’m the one that always says that sometimes the truth, no matter how much we wanted it, is not going to tell us or give us what we need. In this case, I believe that is true as well.
So now we talk about how do we turn this around? We will find out in a few days just what the emergency financial manager has up his sleeve with regard to working with everyone from the retirement boards or paper suppliers for the city. Detroit, as a customer, has been derelict in its responsibilities to pay its bills and there is no way to really justify that, but the reality does exist and the city of Detroit and their vendors are going to be feeling great pain that cannot be numbed; that cannot be ignored.
So I contemplate. I journal. I talk. I tried. I screamed. And I wonder.
I guess the truth is, and I might as well just come out and say it, is that I just don’t like Gov. Snyder. And there is certainly plenty not to like about him. Whether that be policy, gay rights, educational freedom in the public schools and properly funding them. Maybe it’s the way he decided to tax pensions of our senior citizens. Maybe it’s because of the most needy amongst us, those that were receiving the earned income tax credit, which represents a significant percentage of their income, were penalized just for being unfortunately underemployed. I still don’t know, and I will never understand, how cutting EITC was a proper thing to do. And if this is an example of shared sacrifice, and I am stunned by your insistence on being cruel to people who are struggling just to survive, but you took care of them, didn’t you? They are now 100% of the most needy doing their fair share. Gov. Snyder, you should be ashamed of yourself for that alone. How can show your face in public after what you have done to public school teachers and the funding of public education hasn’t just been a disaster it’s been a disgrace. Those of you for reading this, that it stayed with me this long, I want you to remember and I want you to share what I’m about to write: Rick Snyder is an antiunion, pro-voucher, miscreant who will be acknowledged at the gates of hell that he single-handedly, and with the help of a Republican legislature, raped our public schools of the resources, disgraced teacher is to the point of them losing their creative edge, and justified it all by not having a justification at all. But when you have one party rule, as we do now, while they can do what they damn well please and even when we speak up it doesn’t seem to be enough now, does it?
Those of you who have been following the machinations of this legislature, the governor, our Secretary of State, our Atty. Gen., and our Supreme Court, know all too well that Democrats, who are actually in the majority and the voting rolls, have learned an incredibly painful lesson about voting. And for whatever reason, as a Democrat, you decided not to vote for Virg Bernero, or more accurately didn’t vote at all in 2010, that stench you smell is the Republican Party rotting away the core of what was once a proud state here in Michigan.
I have decided, and I hope that you’ll join me, that it’s over time that we not only took a stand but got engaged and become the change agent that Michigan desperately needs in order to get out from underneath the dictatorial and delusional leadership style of the governor who understands little about politics, too much about business and not enough to know the difference between the two when it comes to progress. And feel free to slam my message all you want. But with the 20 hours a week I have it is my expressed intent to make sure that my brothers and sisters in the labor movement, my friends and family in the LG BT community, my friends in the clergy, and people who get up every single day just wanting to make a living, an honest living, and be rewarded from time to time for having the courage and audacity to be better than the next person.
I’ll close with this, and I know I’ve been rambling on and on with this message, but I make no apologies again. Your willingness, or the lack thereof, is the difference politically. If you do not believe as an individual you have a say in the process or the strength to move others, then you’ve been brainwashed. Each and every one of us should stand on the shoulders of the people, issues, and ideas, that move ever closer to profound new rule, 2014.
Many of you have written me asking me to run for office again and I do not believe that is where my calling lies. I believe that I can affect greater change on the radio than I ever could in the House and or Senate. Now I am not suggesting that those who are elected and have been elected made the wrong choice, frankly because that would be untrue. But I will say this: I am the middle child of two amazingly loving balanced parents. Over the course of my 52 years I have had great successes and profound failures but I have never lost my faith, nor have I ever lost my way. And the key, to making sure you’re always where you need to be when you need to be there is to make sure that you are doing everything with your eyes wide open. I assure you, with every drop of liberal blood in my body, that the only thing that stands between us and victory in November 2014 is nothing. There is nothing that stands between victory and us from this point forward but you must, and I mean must, start showing up, start standing up, and more importantly start speaking up.
Your willingness and investment in time of this website, the radio show, and my personal appearances have all been an affirmation that what I want you want and what you want I want. If we just let go, just for a small amount of time, then you may just see, nee, you will discover that by the simple virtue of showing up and speaking up will inspire others to do the same.
And now, it’s time for me to fly. Tonight give thanks, tomorrow do just one thing, one simple thing, that gets you closer to a reality that you can embrace; and believe me when I tell you that as long as you don’t give up or give in you will have done more than you can comprehend because when we lead by example others see what is possible. And that’s why, when I look to all of you and I see the amazing work that you’re doing that I remember why I do this at all.