We’ve been here before – recently – how we respond will make a difference.
Since Christmas 2016, I’ve posted a grand total of three opinion pieces on this site, which is a very far cry from my usual pace; blame the weird hours of my current work schedule. The interesting thing about working “dawn patrol” is that I get to spend a great deal of time paying attention to my newsfeed. Many credible political pundits, whom I follow on that newsfeed, are referring to last week’s elections outcome as a “split decision” on a national scale. Fair enough. But here in the “Great Lake Effect State” (lots of snow on the ground last weekend), we’re armpit deep in something that isn’t snow.
The Michigan Republican Party seems to be the structurally weakest it’s been since the immediate aftermath of the Milliken Administration (circa 1983), a “rule of empathy” majority now holds the state’s Supreme Court, and an underinformed electorate has just enshrined systemic election fraud into the state’s constitution. Oh, and just in case it matters, the Libertarian Party of Michigan promptly lost their brand-new “major party” status, due to election underperformance. As with the other time something similar happened this century, the key question ought not so much be, “What happened?” as it ought to be, “What are we going to do about it?” . . . because that second question is the one that we must answer if we’re going to accomplish anything constructive going forward.
As badly as we need this done, do we care why he’s doing it, or even whether he gets the credit?
“If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” (Winston Churchill, to his private secretary, Jock Colville, on June 21st, 1941, the evening before Operation Barbarossa)
Churchill was well known for being a consistent and vociferous opponent of communism, and had often spoken quite unfavorably about the Soviet Union, and particularly of Joseph Stalin (who was well-known even then as the brutal monster that honest history records). However, in seeking to stop the menace of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Churchill was willing to adopt an ad hoc “enemy of my enemy” approach, and initiated the Anglo-Soviet Agreement for joint action against Germany.
Given much of the recent hullabaloo regarding a badly-needed grassroots initiative having been likely co-opted, by a moderate opportunist apparently seeking a means to advance his political ambitions, and given that I have personally stood directly in the path of those ambitions at least twice in the past seven years, what I’m about to say is going to sound exceedingly strange, but I’m going to say it anyway.
Michigan republicans have a bad habit of making national news for all the wrong reasons.
According to Article IV, Section G, Paragraph 1 of the Bylaws of the Michigan Republican State Committee, “The Chairman shall have the power to declare vacant the seat of any officer who refuses to support the Republican nominee for any office within the State of Michigan.” That’s the language, and it’s straightforward. If you’re one of the officers specified in Article IV, Section A of those same bylaws, then you support the republican nominees, up and down the ticket, or else risk immediate termination . . . end of discussion.
That paragraph is something that a certain lady, whom I still consider a friend, should have considered before shooting her mouth off, knowing the cameras were rolling, last Friday.
Someone needs to impress upon the MRP legislative and executive leadership that “NO” means “NO” . . . period.
Roughly nine months ago, We the People of Michigan, by a record-breaking 4-to-1 statewide margin, told our elected nobility in Lansing “HELL NO” on a proposed tax increase, which they’d tried to sell as a road proposal, but which the voting public saw clearly as a political sausage job that produced a cronyist’s grab bag of goodies. Thus, every single county in this state, without exception and in no uncertain terms, clearly delivered a mandate-level message that we are no longer interested in extending the legislature a taxpayer-funded line of credit, until such time as they get their spending priorities in order. You would think that a statewide vox populi shellacking, with a turnout rate typical of the biennial congressional primaries, would clue in the GoverNerd, and the rest of the MRP/MIGOPe professional political establishment, that We the People are done being their ATM.
You would think that . . . but you would be wrong. Six months after that ballot box rejection, while most of us were tucking our children into bed (or monitoring local election results), the lords and barons in the Michigan Legislature essentially told we the proletariat that our opinion is irrelevant, and that “no” really means “don’t ask again” – which, of course, they didn’t – by passing a “road funding” tax package that was nearly identical to the core of Proposal 15-1, less the elements required to force it onto the ballot. In doing this, they flatly rejected the clear will of the people, imposed through legislative fiat that which they couldn’t persuade the electorate to publicly ratify, and took yet another step toward government by aristocracy.
The current battle is to simply stop the inertia of decline, but we need to follow through.
“Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything by winning.” There seems to be some dispute as to whether this was actually said by either General George Patton or Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, but everyone seems to agree that one of them said it. Whether we’re discussing a military battlefield or a political one, it’s pretty sound advice either way, often more commonly worded as, “be selective about the fights you pick.” A logical corollary of this maxim is that if you’re going to accomplish anything, then (a) you should have a realistic expectation of what can be accomplished, and (b) know why winning this particular battle will advance the larger goal. And, as any strategist or tactician worth the title will advise, the smart thing to do is to already have a plan for follow-up in place . . . because you’re going to need one should you actually win.
This is where Michigan’s constitutionalist insurgency has done a marvelous job of dropping the ball post-2010, and as a result now has a task that’s four times harder than it needed to be. The upside is that this fight is still winnable, if we stay focused on a realistic expectation of what we’ll actually accomplish by winning it.
Will Proposal 15-1 become a bridge too far for the GoverNerd?
According to a colleague of mine, the power of government (at any level), over its law-abiding citizens, is directly derived from the taxation authority. Think about that for a moment or two. In a truly free society, the government has no means to control the behavior of its citizens who aren’t actual criminals, nor will those citizens tolerate any such action from their duly-elected public servants. And while the citizenry does indeed pay taxes – because even in a free society, the government still has the authority to tax – control of the taxation mechanism isn’t left to the arbitrary whims of government functionaries, and the true tax burden is plainly visible for all to see.
By that measure, it’s been at least five decades since Michigan was a truly free state. Since being gifted with an income-based taxation model, and a full-time legislative model, the state that was once the engine of freedom has progressively mutated into a socialist laboratory, at best a generation between now and whatever bankruptcy chapter awaits a nominally sovereign state collapsing into receivership. And in that regard, I don’t think it overly dramatic to suggest that this statewide special election to decide the fate of a legislative piece of sausage is similar to Gettysburg . . . if we don’t stop them here, then where will we ever be able to stop them at all?
The upside is that We the People received a bit of good news on this front yesterday, though how this’ll ultimately play out is still an open question.
Safe Roads YES! is already running media ads . . . why aren’t their opponents?
So, about three weeks ago, Safe Roads YES! launched their radio and television ad campaign, designed to convince us that jacking up our per-person state tax-and-fee burden by roughly $248.12 – permanently (not including inflation adjustments to the wholesale fuel tax) – is a good idea. To do so, they’re using the standard tactics of bogus statistics and emotional appeals, praying that the typical low-information voter isn’t going to do even the basic homework into the legislative piece of sausage that the GoverNerd and his hodge-podge of allies are doing their damnedest to slide by us roughly six weeks from now.
And you’d think that at least one of the organizations or individuals lined up to oppose the Michigan Sales Tax Increase for Transportation Amendment would have already snagged media buys for at least one well-produced television commercial. I’ll freely admit that I don’t spend much time in front of the boob tube these days, but I can’t seem to get through even one prime-time television show (regardless of channel) without seeing at least one Pro-1 30-second spot. The reason that bugs me (both the pro-1 ad campaign and the absence of an anti-1 ad campaign) has less to do with polling, and more to do with my understanding of voter behavior.