In life the phrase, the only thing to fear is fear itself applies to any situation. It seems that Michigan politics dictate that the only partisan politics that exists are the politics that deprive Detroiters of our rights. Why do plans and ideals from Republicans, the so called conservatives, seem to prosper in Michigan when they are fought in other parts of the country? Not all of these plans originated with Republicans. Also not all of the Republican plans are disliked by the Michigan Democrats. Democrats in Michigan have for years either sponsored legislation that hurt Detroit or supported Republican legislation that hurts Detroit. Those that did not get specific support do not get repealed or otherwise changed when the Democrats gain political control of state government.
A successful and strong Detroit would be equaled by an equally dominant Democratic party in Michigan. Democrats in Michigan have lost key political battles, like the supreme court races, because of policies by the Democrats in recent years. These policies have driven voters away from the Democratic party. These voters did not switch and vote Republican, they simply stopped voting. Detroit is the strongest block of Democrat votes in the state. Whoever wins the political contest for governor must either obtain a strong majority of the votes from Detroit or prevent their opponent from a strong voting turnout in the city. Detroit has been the key to all statewide and national elections for Michigan. If it’s a presidential race, the contenders must obtain a majority of Detroit votes. Detroit controls the state voting block and is the single largest influential block within state politics. That influence has not translated into support for Detroit or political positions favorable to Detroit. As a result, less Detroiters are interested in voting.
The presidential elections draw more people to vote because the process does a better job of explaining how individuals will be affected by the results. People feel more connected and therefore more interested. On the state level this has been missing for Detroit. In the last governor’s election the Democrat candidate rarely campaigned in the city. The Republican candidate was able to then earn enough votes to win. Too many people who claim to be a Democrat were saying how they could work with Snyder, the Republican candidate for governor. This undermined the Democrats position within Detroit and other similar communities. These Detroiters who claimed to be able to work with Snyder now claim to be upset because of Snyder’s right wing policies. Even the unions did not work as hard as they should have to help a candidate they endorsed win the election.
Two years ago a recall campaign began with the goal of removing Detroit Mayor Dave Bing from office. A meeting occurred with the recall backers and most of the unions leadership or presidents. There were some who stated they supported the recall. John Riehl president of the union local who represents city of Detroit water department employees, refused to endorse the recall and stated he did not support the effort. He didn’t even present the recall to his members to allow them to make up their own minds. The recall failed to collect the minimum number of signatures and therefore was not successful. Today, the water department employees face privatization. Their union would be eliminated as the department fires them and hires private companies to do the same work. All plans initiated by Bing. These plans and Bing’s positions are not new, they were made clear when he ran for office. This was a stated source for the recall attempt.
The unions easily generate a strong political effort when they have a goal. This year several union backed petitions easily generated enough gathered signatures to make it onto the state ballot. The state ballot requirements have a greater number of required signatures as compared to the number required for a recall in Detroit. Also at the state level, a campaign to recall Snyder and several key republicans failed to gather enough signatures. There has also been a failure to bring real pressure on local and state issues important to people who are union members and those who are Democrats. Additionally legal challenges that could be initiated or have been initiated have been weak, lacking a legal argument, or have been rejected. While the public, and union members, are told their is opposition to republican plans so, the efforts are either insufficient or non-existent.
The unions in Michigan are the stated backbone of the Democrat party in the state. The slated candidates, both successful and those who are not, have not been good candidates. Some are not representative of the voters who must vote them into office. Some don’t campaign and introduce themselves to the community. Most ignore Detroit and other large cities when campaigning. This raises the question of if Democrats ever really have statewide support. If the Democrats are serious in their beliefs and opposition to Republican ideology, why then have the Democrats not supported a politically strong Detroit?