This wasn’t the Democratic response I’d been waiting for

As of today, Rick Snyder has been our Governor for three months. To mark the occasion, the Michigan Democratic Party released the following video.

While I appreciate that they’re trying to get the word out about the administration’s agenda, I had hoped for something a little more substantive. Maybe I’m naive, but I’d hoped that our Democratic leaders might come forward with something like…. ummmm…. a viable alternative to Snyder’s proposed budget. I know that fear motivates, and that the State Democratic party will likely get some traction with this piece, but where does it really get us in the end?

I’m not suggesting that we don’t acknowledge the reality of the situation, which probably really does warrant a creepy, ominous soundtrack and some stark black and white imagery, but I don’t think that, in and of itself, is enough. What I’d love to see is some respected, adult-looking figure laying out what the Snyder plan means for Michigan, and then offering a viable alternative. And I think the people of Michigan would welcome it. I think the people of Michigan would like, for a change, to have something to rally around and be for, instead of just having one more thing to be against.

If I were the chair of the Michigan Democratic party, I’d be talking about joining the rest of the civilized world and rewriting our regressive tax code so that a disproportionate amount of the burden doesn’t fall on the shoulders of the working poor. I’d also be talking about savings that could be had through prison reform, and the shoring up of loopholes in our corporate tax code. And, of course, I’d be talking about our investments in education and transportation infrastructure, and the dividends that they would pay in the future.

But, instead, we’re spending our time promoting the Snyder boogeyman in hopes of driving increased donations to the Democratic party.

And, as long as I’m handing out ideas to the Michigan Democratic Party, I think they should also be investing the time and resources necessary to identify young political talent, and develop it. The state of our Democratic party in Michigan is absolutely criminal. We should have a deep bench of people ready to take on this Republican Governor. Instead, we have to rely on Michael Moore to do the fighting for us. We need people of stature that are taken seriously, and that takes time – time that we don’t have.

Sorry for venting, but I can’t believe that we still haven’t seen a comprehensive Democratic proposal to balance the budget. I guess we’re to busy making scary videos.

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32 Comments

  1. Josh
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    i think it’s just as important to be against this. not just as part of his overall plan, but as pieces of legislation. wouldn’t it be a better plan to leave things the way they are than to actively rip apart the state?

    i do agree that more action and less fear is needed, but it’s important to fight this kind of bullshit tooth and nail.

  2. Knox
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    the Snyder boogeyman is real, but I hear what you’re saying. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be attacking on both fronts.

  3. lorie thom
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I think there is a monumental failure in leadership happening on the Dem side. And I think that starts with a lack of change in leadership of the Dem party as a party at the state level and on down. We need a better voice – less whiny, less fear mongering, more pragmatic and technically/data driven. And, not a voice that has been bought and paid for by the unions.

    This vid caused me to roll my eyes. I need more info less scary music over talking heads.

  4. Edward
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I have no problem with fear mongering, but I think you have to back it up with plans of your own.

    I’d like to see a video like the ones that Austan Goolsbee does for the Obama administration.

    Example:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/03/07/white-board-austan-goolsbee-patent-reform

    And if you’re going to do fear mongering, at least throw in some images of starving children and demon sheep.

  5. dp in ypsi
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Mark.

  6. Glen S.
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    From the end of World War II until some time in the 1980’s, Democrats remained the majority party in the U.S., and in Michigan, mostly by building and maintaining an amazingly broad and diverse (yet, often fragile) coalition of voters, including poor whites, small business owners, minorities, teachers, labor groups, environmentalists, southerners, peace and social justice activists, supporters of women’s rights and gay rights, etc.

    They were able to do this by consistently demonstrating — not just through words and slogans, but actual deeds — that they were willing to take on corporate and institutional power in order to pass progressive legislation that made a real difference in people’s lives by fostering equality and opportunity, and by raising living standards, and improving worker health and safety, job security, access to education and health care. In short, they helped create the “middle class” and, slowly, over time, dramatically expanded the number of people who had access to it.

    Sometime in the mid- to late 1980’s, however, so-called “third-way,” moderate, DLC Democrats took over much of the national party (and many state parties), throwing out much of its proud history, and re-casting it as a sort of watered-down “Democratic Lite” party … Sort of the “Pepsi” to the Republicans’ “Coke” … (soon to become “Koch.”)

    Since then, I think many people who would be — should be — our natural supporters and allies have become confused about who the Democrats are, and what they represent, and have drifted away from the party … and all too often, from voting at all.

    In the 2008 general election, MILLIONS of young voters, infrequent voters, first-time voters, etc., turned out to support Barack Obama because he convinced them he was actually going to stand up for them (us!) and bring about real “change.”

    However, when they see this same leader, who was elected on a platform of “change,”go on to fill his cabinet with an array of Wall Street/Corporate hacks, while continuing many of the same neo-liberal policies as his Republican predecessor, they are confused …

    Likewise, here in Michigan, when they see a Democratic Governor like Granholm (and a Democratic House Majority Leader like Andy Dillon) preside over a regime of ongoing tax (and program) cuts amid rising unemployment and falling wages and benefits, they are confused …

    Frankly, at this point, *I’m* confused.

    Aside from a few renegades — for example, State Senator Rebekah Warren, who actually said at a recent public forum that she favored a higher, and more progressive income tax, and (if you can believe it!) *more* investment in education, public transportation, and the environment — who in the Michigan Democratic Party is offering any kind of clear, understandable alternative to the Republicans?

    And, for that matter, who at the national level, perhaps besides Bernie Sanders (who isn’t even a Democrat!) is clearly and consistently offering any kind of clear alternative to the ever-downward spiral of more tax cuts, rising income inequality, falling wages and job security, the unraveling of public education and infrastructure, and perpetual war?

    I think there are many people here in Michigan (and millions across America) who are eager for new vision, and new leadership … but, at this point, they are genuinely (and deservedly) suspicious and cynical of politicians spouting slick slogans and clever sound bites (“Winning the Future” comes to mind).

    The question is, are there any Democratic leaders left (or anyone else, for that matter) up to the challenge?

  7. Kim
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Brewer, the head of the Michigan Democratic Party, has to go. It’s time for us to clean house and start over. It’s time for a new generation to take over.

  8. EOS
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    The Federal government is $1.5 trillion in debt. Democrats in Congress can’t agree to cut 1.6% of the spending. If the two parties can’t agree on that, then there’s no hope for dealing with this crisis. The Fed is going to create inflation to reduce the value of what it owes. Rising prices and widespread unemployment will soon result in no one being able to pay more taxes, yet Democrats still want to tax more so that they can spend more. Unbelievable.

  9. Peter Larson
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I think mark was talking about state politics, or perhaps you don’t understand that there is a difference?

  10. EOS
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry Peter. I thought a devastated national economy might impact our state as well.

  11. Chaely
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Kim. Anyone who is in office right now & who isn’t toiling away at a response to these recent changes needs to go. Immediately. We don’t have time to waste waiting for these people to figure out the best way to approach this.

  12. Ricky
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    The michigan democratic party is woefully devoid of leadership. It’s inconceivable to me that they haven’t come up with any alternatives for the Nerd’s budget plan. Seems to me like they’re blowing a golden opportunity. Like Mark said, give us something to rally around, not just oppose or support.

  13. Peter Larson
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I think mark should run for office. Any office will do.

  14. Glen S.
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    @ Peter

    Good idea.

    On second thought … Mark, can you produce an original birth certificate?

  15. dp in ypsi
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    via Glen S: “The question is, are there any Democratic leaders left (or anyone else, for that matter) up to the challenge?”

    As far as Democrats go, I think that it has been proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the party leadership at the state and national level are strategically inept, and no individual legislators have yet made a splash in the pool with an executable plan. In many cases, leadership have been co-opted by the interests that legislators of past generations made laws to constrain. These elected officials are complicit in the structural collapse of this state, and indeed the nation.

    What to do about this?

    Well, if we start local we have a better chance of finding success and inserting our voices in the process in a measured and constructive way. Overcoming the inertia of the Democrat vote in Washtenaw County is our biggest challenge. I’ve had direct conversations with thousands of voters over the last few years. Almost all claim to be Democrats, but very very few know why they affiliate as such outside of the fact that it’s what they’ve always done and in their opinion Republicans are generally bad news.

    To change this mindset of habitual and sometimes fear-based voting, a truthful, effective and sustained educational campaign will be needed. This outreach would educate voters, and encourage decent hardworking people to run for office, and provide them with a tool kit for how to do it. If they want to run as Dems, well, keep doing the same thing and see if you get different results. If they want to be independent of the parties that got us where we are today, then they will need our aggregated support to be successful.

    I am interested in starting a PAC devoted to raising funds and building sustainable infrastructural capacity for independent and third party candidates who share our socially progressive and fiscally responsible ideals. I’ve got url’s purchased, and many ideas on how to get people involved. I have written a business plan for the organization, but as with anything, implementation costs a fair amount of cash.

    If any of you would like to work with me on this project, I can be reached here: david.palmer76@gmail.com

    It would be great to meet up and pool our efforts and cash to change the dialogue from the current state of complaining and capitulation into a productive and effective assertion of our values and voices into OUR state government.

  16. Mr. X
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    If Washtenaw County had a Ball Shaving Ordinance, Mark would be the perfect man for the Ball Inspector job.

  17. dragon
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Overcoming the inertia of the Democrat vote in Washtenaw County is our biggest challenge.

    Maybe thousands of voters think you are an asshole?

  18. Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think that Mark could even prove that he went to elementary school.

  19. dp in ypsi
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    @ Dragon: I suppose that’s possible, but your anonymous and unsubstantiated claim does nothing to change the whole point of this exercise. State Democrats can’t do the job, and Republicans don’t give a damn about any of our opinions.

    Name call all ‘ya want, I’d prefer to discuss possible solutions and work hard to implement good ideas for a better tomorrow.

  20. dragon
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    What exercise? Republicans who don’t want to outlaw abortion and have mandatory school prayer?

    –Modern usage

    Following his inauguration in 2001, President George W. Bush often used the noun-as-adjective when referring to the opposition party.[19] Likewise, it has been used by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay,[20] House Minority Leader John Boehner,[21] and other Republicans. In 2006, Ruth Marcus, a columnist for The Washington Post, noted that “[t]he derisive use of ‘Democrat’ in this way was a Bush staple during the recent campaign”, and she chastised Bush, alleging he was being intentionally offensive.[7

  21. dp in ypsi
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Intentionally offensive… interesting. Thanks for the info. I’ve used this type of language to refer to the Democrat(ic) Party since the late 90s. I appreciate your source on framing. I wasn’t aware there was such a hub-bub over the term and apologize that I have offended you.

    Overcoming the inertia of the Democrat(ic) vote in Washtenaw County is a challenge if you think competitive elections matter and want to encourage candidates to run who are not apart of, nor represented by, the two party system. I can’t count the times I’ve taken part in conversations where reasonable and well educated individuals have discussed an election after the fact and felt bad about voting straight ticket. Since most voters don’t have, or maybe take, the time to get educated about the candidates, and either choose to stay home or vote how they’ve always voted (inertia) I think its incumbent on those who have public policy passion and skills to find each other and help make more info available and encourage more people to run. It’s obvious to many people that leaving these decisions to mostly unaccountable Democrats and Republicans has gotten us into a heap of trouble.

    Incidentally, had Democrats in the Congress upheld their oath of office and Impeached/Convicted Bush/Cheney et.al. for the well documented high crimes and misdemeanors, and thus squelched the operative theory of the unitary executive, maybe the party, and the entire country, would be in a better position today.

  22. dragon
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t aware there was such a hub-bub over the term and apologize that I have offended you.

    You haven’t offended me. You have identified yourself, you might as well have said evolution is only a theory or the President might have been born in this country, but who knows.

    I can’t count the times I’ve taken part in conversations where reasonable and well educated individuals have discussed an election after the fact and felt bad about voting straight ticket.

    Bullshit. Most liberals are not happy with Obama, but I know of none that would rather have McCain-Palin.

    Incidentally, had Democrats in the Congress upheld their oath of office and Impeached/Convicted Bush/Cheney et.al. for the well documented high crimes and misdemeanors, and thus squelched the operative theory of the unitary executive, maybe the party, and the entire country, would be in a better position today.

    We agree!!!

  23. dp in ypsi
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    @ Dragon: I appreciate your passion, although you’ve made a few too many incorrect assumptions about my positions on national issues, but going tit for tat on Mark’s blog takes a lot of time. I’d be happy to meet up to see how we can work together per the original point, which was to change the make-up of the legislature to folks who will propose counter points to a bad budget. We can also discuss and correct your invalid assumptions about my opinions on hot-button media manufactured issues, and enjoy a lively conversation over bourbon, beer, tea, or coffee. I’ll buy the first round!

  24. dragon
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I can’t count the times I’ve taken part in conversations where reasonable and well educated individuals have discussed an election after the fact and felt bad about voting straight ticket.

    Give me one real name of a registered Democrat in Ypsilanti that wishes they had voted for a Republican and I will buy you a fucking beer.
    Yes, I passionately believe that you are an asshole.

  25. dp in ypsi
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    That’s fantastic!

    Those conversations that I reference were for independent and third party candidates found on the ballot, not Republicans.

    “Oh crap, I voted straight ticket, but still wanted to vote for,” a Green/Independent/Libertarian running for City Council/County Commission/whatever office. “You just don’t see them on the ballot that often but the individual came to my door and we had a great conversation. I would have liked to voted for them.”

    These things happen and it’s interesting to witness the learning process in real time. Maybe next time they won’t vote straight ticket, maybe they will take a few more minutes to think about the best options.

    We (society at-large) do this for food, why not for the decision about who writes the legislation that governs our food: organic standards, land-use policy, inspection requirements, etc.

    We make choices about cell phones, tvs, car seats, and vacation destinations, but we seem to be stuck in an A or B world when it comes to elections. Sometimes, depending on where you live, you get stuck in an “only candidate B will win this election.”

    I challenge you to run an Aubree’s pizza for any position, State Senate, or lower on the ticket in Ypsilanti, as a Democrat in a general election against any qualified human as an independent or third party candidate during a Presidential or Midterm election, and that pizza will win on straight ticket voting.

    Straight ticket voting is essentially a bad habit. It’s lazy like Taco Bell, when you could try Pita Pita maybe for the first time, its right next door. It’s locally owned, and has real flavor… think real fresh and interesting food versus a likely GMO corn taco that contains less than 40% real beef after all the fillers.

    I don’t know anyone, off hand, who would rather have had the 08 Republican ticket over the Democrats, providing those were the only two choices available to them. Well, except for a few folks I know who are actually Republicans. As you might assume, those conversations can get interesting at times, but they wouldn’t have voted as you suggest anyway.

    Since it doesn’t sound like you’d like to meet for drinks, I’d add this point before I sign off the internet for a bit to grill dinner on this lovely evening. I actually thought about volunteering for then candidate Obama, and made a small donation to his campaign to get on the fundraising list. After doing some research to find out his position (if any) on the powers of the unitary executive, I waited to get the call from the folks making fundraising calls. When the call came, I said that I couldn’t find any source where Senator Obama discusses renouncing the powers of a unitary executive that Bush bestowed upon himself. Please find out from someone inside the campaign what his position is. If he’s going to reject the terrible things Bush did with those powers, when will Sen. Obama make a public statement to that effect. Please make note in your database to call/email me when you find out, and I’ll make a more substantial contribution and will help you fundraise.

    The call never came. President Obama’s Justice Department now defends Bush policies on extra-ordinary rendition, he re-upped the Patriot Act, no serious investigation has ever been launched into any number of illegal actions promulgated by Bush et.al., the State Department even tried to hush the war crimes investigations going on in Spain, and so on.

    But those are national issues.

    The state level provides a scale of opportunity in politics that can be more multi-dimensional. I think in instances where there is greater competition among a plurality of candidates, at the local level you can make a real difference in how you are represented.

  26. dragon
    Posted April 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    I actually thought about volunteering for then candidate Obama, and made a small donation to his campaign to get on the fundraising list. After doing some research to find out his position (if any) on the powers of the unitary executive, I waited to get the call from the folks making fundraising calls. When the call came, I said that I couldn’t find any source where Senator Obama discusses renouncing the powers of a unitary executive that Bush bestowed upon himself. Please find out from someone inside the campaign what his position is. If he’s going to reject the terrible things Bush did with those powers, when will Sen. Obama make a public statement to that effect.

    What did McCain say?

  27. Glen S.
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    @ DP

    I agree with you that our current Democratic-Republican two-party system is badly in need of shaking up, and I applaud your efforts to help bring more diverse voices and opinions into the process.

    However, your contention that frequent lop-sided Democratic votes here in Washtenaw County (or more locally, here in Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor) are the result of “inertia” or a “bad habit,” is flat-out wrong — and more than a little offensive.

    I’ve been a frequent critic of Democrats and the Democratic Party here and elsewhere, but come election time I, too, generally end up voting Democratic — not because of “inertia,” but because like many of my fellow voters, I know that splitting the left-of-center vote (even here in “liberal” Washtenaw County) risks voting into office members of a Republican Party that, increasingly, is becoming controlled by its right-wing, reactionary base.

    (One only need consider that people are still debating whether Nader supporters in Florida were responsible for George Bush’s “election” in 2000 to understand how powerful this fear continues to be.)

    So, if you’re really interested in changing this dynamic, I’d suggest you put your efforts into changing our current first-past-the-post, single-member district system (which all but ensures a two-party monopoly) with one that combines some elements of proportional representation and/or instant run-off voting (which tends to encourage more, and more diverse parties, and more coalition-building, etc.)

    Until then, I’m guessing most of us will continue our “bad habit” of supporting what many of us see as the lesser of two evils … even while some of us (like me) continue wishing that “our” team was substantially more progressive, visionary and dynamic.

  28. Posted April 2, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    @dragon – when did dp kick your puppy? I read this thread twice to figure out exactly what he’d said that was so heinous, and realized on second read that he’d posted a lengthy and sincere comment on his own frustrations with the system that Mark’s post criticizes, and you jumped straight to “Maybe thousands of voters think you are an asshole?” Did you simply find his comment made too much sense, and had to restore this place to a proper level of crudeness?

    @ glen – do you really think dp has a better chance of converting Michigan’s legislative elections to a parliamentary or even instant-runoff system than of implementing his “a few good independents” plan? Respectfully, I think that’s kind of foolishly optimistic – mounting statewide systemic change to something that would be considered at best unfamiliar and at worst “UnAmerican” as a “first step”, rather than picking one or two “safe” districts to experiment in locally?

    I agree with dp substantially, though not completely. Substantially in that Irwin won 80% of his race, Warren 65% of hers, and Rutledge 61% of his, and all of this in the most pro-Republican year to have hit Washtenaw County in my memory, with a Republican gubernatorial candidate who was seen as a moderate and drew tons of crossover voters, including many traditionally very partisan Democrats. If all the stars are in alignment for Republicans, and they can’t even break 40% of the vote in urbanized Washtenaw County, we’ve probably got plenty of room to experiment “safely” with things like third party candidates.

    (Analogously, is Sen. Bernie Sanders wrong to run as an Independent/socialist? Because by losing the name recognition and party machine of the Democrats, he risks handing a Vermont Senate seat to the Republicans?)

    But incompletely do I agree as well – party affiliation hardly means lockstep agreement, especially in a legislature as newb as Michigan’s current makeup, where the Republican leadership’s biggest hurdle to their economic actions is not the Democratic minority, but keeping their own membership from running off and getting distracted with topics like abortion. There’s plenty of room in the State legislature for Democrats who aren’t just like every other Democrat. I sincerely believe that if certain Independent candidates in Ypsilanti had run in the Democratic primary last year, they would have had better than even odds of winning (considering the relative extreme lack of hustle by all the actual Dem candidates), and being in a position to represent their positions in the legislature (and probably angering a lot of the other Dems in the process). But that’s armchair quarterbacking on my part.

  29. Robert
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I nominate Puppet Mark for party chairman.

  30. Holly Khow
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Democratic party is at best broken since the late 1960s, at worst, nearly as corrupt, destructive, and ineffective as the GOP, no matter how many “Jeff Irwins” there are in the world. It behooves some of you to wake up to the fact that Dem politics is no real place for progressives.

    Now, let’s get some fresh blood on city council and in the mayor’s office, for starters, and see what we can do.

  31. dragon
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Very Serious Person Murph has proofread the post and admits he doesn’t understand how language is used, yet is offended by the word asshole.

    **Shield your delicate eyeballs**

    An asshole and an idiot having a beer together is just like chocolate and peanut butter, but with dog shit and puke.

  32. TaterSalad
    Posted April 2, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Can you understand this Public Sector Unions? Your time has passed, get over it. The taxpayers who pay your wages, benefits and legacy costs are broke and tired of footing your extravagant life styles and here is an example of who supports who:

    http://gatewaypundit.rightnetwork.com/2011/04/wi-small-business-owner-sees-business-quadruple-after-standing-up-to-thuggish-union-tactics-video/

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