It is human nature to focus on what is wrong. As an English teacher, not only would I point out your spelling and grammar errors, I would also identify mistakes in logic and congruency, and if your handwriting was unreadable, then I wouldn’t even bother with the assignment at all. That’s why everyone loved his or her English teacher in school. They always emphasized all the “write” things.
Our political discourse is similar. You may support our president, but only because you really hate Democrats and all that they stand for. You might vote for Joe Biden, but your main reason for doing so is because you can’t stand the thought of the current president remaining in office for another four years. I want to change that way of thinking. I don’t want you to vote against my opponent, instead I want you to show your support for me.
There is an inherent tension between the rights of the individual and the interests of the “common good.” It is the purpose of government to find the appropriate balance between these two competing ideals. Philosophically conservative Republicans promote a smaller role for government. However, just as I believe that the role of teachers is to teach, the role of health care professionals is to keep us healthy, and the role of law enforcement is to protect us - the role of government officials is to govern. This is especially true now as we must contain a health and economic crisis. For example, the Midland dam catastrophe needs a government response to lessen the pain and suffering of families who lost everything, and the conservative mindset is frankly ill-prepared to deal with such a crisis. The mantra of lower taxes and smaller government cannot appropriately provide an adequate response. Instead our government leaders need to be guided by compassion, cooperation, creativity and commitment.
Republicans have been in control of a gerrymandered House of Representatives in our state for the past 10 years. The last time a Democratic governor had the opportunity to work with a Democratic-majority legislature was 1983! Especially now, as we face so many challenges, Gov. Whitmer needs a legislature which will work with her, and not focus on petty partisan posturing and frivolous lawsuits. Now is not the time to indulge in politics of anger and discontent. Instead we must be guided by compassion and cooperation to assist those most in need.
And although the state’s largest education association, and one of the most influential unions in Michigan, will not officially support me, I will still support the MEA and its goals. We must respect teachers, value students and fully fund our schools.
The reason for the MEA throwing its support behind Rep. Gary Howell is understandable. Mr. Howell is that rare member of his caucus who is willing to work in a bipartisan manner on educational issues. The union could not endorse a political novice such as myself.
Educational issues are not the only ones in which there is little separation between Mr. Howell and myself. Mr. Howell has sponsored an amendment to our state’s constitution which effectively ends lame duck legislation, something I whole-heartedly support. Yet while his bill has bipartisan support, it currently languishes in the Republican controlled committee on Government Operations, from where it will never see the light of day. The difference between Gary and me on ending lame duck legislation? He might write the bill, but I will fight for it.
While I agree with the MEA on most legislative matters, there have been times in the past when we have disagreed. One such instance was Proposal One in 2015. This measure to fix Michigan’s roads, while also increasing funding for education, was easily rejected by voters. My opposition to Proposal One was that as a sales-tax increase it was inherently regressive, thereby impacting the poor and those on fixed incomes disproportionately.
Regrettably this is another such instance when I disagree with the MEA. Politics as usual will prove to be ineffectual, particularly in this time of rapid change. I will still seek the support of my union brothers and sisters, for in the end, it is in the interests of the people, and not the machine, which must prevail.
Today’s blog is an excerpt by my wife, Beth, written to one of our daughters, upon her graduation from high school, entitled, “My Wish For You.”
As you embark on this journey I wish you “enough.” I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more. And, lastly, I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
To all the moms who are loved and to those who love them, “Happy Mother’s Day!”
Last Sunday, May 3, marked six months until the November election. With the passage of Proposal 3 in 2018, we now have “no excuse” absentee balloting. All Michigan voters already have the ability to vote safely by mail from the comfort of their home during this pandemic.
Whether you want to vote for me or you support my opponent, it is important that everyone participate in the next election. Vote for someone you are passionate about. Vote against the candidate you hate. Choose the lesser of two evils. But don’t sit on the sidelines.
With “no excuse” absentee voting we can all have our voices heard. Too often people like to argue and complain, but in the end they don’t do anything about it. This is your chance to be part of the democratic system. And just as importantly, it is your duty and responsibility as an American citizen.