Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Michigan Republicans No Longer Supine?

 

To the unsuspecting glance, Michigan’s Republican Party might seem to be a force. After all, it controls both houses in the state legislature, and it has done so ever since the shenanigans that took place early in Barack Obama’s first term catapulted Republicans nationwide into a dominant position within most of the states. It is nonetheless an empty shell, little more than a front for the chamber of commerce, and during the period of its ascendancy, it has achieved next to nothing – apart from shifting taxes from corporations to retirees, raising the gas tax, and making Michigan a right-to-work state.

The party’s fecklessness has something to do with the defects of the state’s most recent Republican governor. But his unwillingness to cut expenditures, reduce taxes, and introduce reforms can best be explained as a consequence of the party’s debility. Rick Snyder is the Michael Bloomberg of Michigan. Before he sought the Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination, he was registered as an independent. He became a Republican only because he recognized that the party itself had no substance and could easily be seized by a wealthy candidate able to fund his own campaign.

Thus, as was predictable, while in office, once he got the legislature to shift the tax burden from the state’s corporations to its senior citizens, he was reluctant to do anything else of any significance. It was only when the unions ignored his attempts to reach an accord with them and fiercely entered the fray to prevent his re-election that Snyder, by way of revenge, was willing to sign off on the Republicans’ right-to-work initiative.

Moreover, throughout his eight years in office, Rick Snyder persistently nominated progressives to the state supreme court; and, thanks to his efforts, what had once been a judicial body committed to the rule of law is now, in effect, an almost unaccountable legislative body dedicated to progressive causes. It is no surprise, then, that – when his second term came to an end, he refused to endorse the Republican gubernatorial nominee. Nor is it astonishing that Bill Schuette then lost to Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic nominee. He could talk about cutting taxes and reducing the state’s exorbitant auto insurance rates. But, after eight years of full Republican control, it was perfectly clear that nothing of the sort would happen. Michigan’s Republicans like to hold office. They have no substantive agenda.

In the last couple of weeks, however, the Republicans seem to have caught fire. The local chambers of commerce are perturbed. Small business, which is the only reliable Republican constituency in Michigan, is imperiled. These folks really hate Gretchen Whitmer – and, as I have tried to spell out in posts here and here, they have grounds for their fury. Her executive orders have been arbitrary and obnoxious, and there are no grounds whatsoever for locking down counties where no one or next to no one has died from the coronavirus.

In consequence, the Republicans in the legislature are threatening to create an oversight committee to investigate the lockdowns; to repeal the 1945 Emergency Powers of the Governor Act, which conferred on the state’s chief executive almost dictatorial powers after the governor declared an emergency; and to amend the 1976 Emergency Management Act, which gave the legislature the right to make such a declaration, to reduce the period covered from 28 to 14 days. Negotiations are taking place as I write these words. The Republicans point to the 1976 act and contend that, if the state legislature does not approve an extension of the governor’s emergency powers by Friday, 1 May, they will evaporate. Governor Whitmer points to the 1945 act and claims that she can act unilaterally under that.

There is, as should be clear, a legal question that needs resolution. Did the 1976 act in effect, repeal the provisions of the 1945 act pertaining to the declaration of emergencies?

There is also a policy question. Thus far, Whitmer has taken a one-size-fits-all approach – which, as I argued in the more recent of my two posts, makes little sense given the fact that the epidemic has had no effect or next to no effect in many parts of the state. It is, in fact, as I pointed out, by no means clear that a lockdown is needed today anywhere in Michigan. Whitmer’s most recent executive order is predicated on utopian presumptions – that it is in our power to “suppress” the epidemic. We may well have slowed down its onset, and that may have helped the healthcare professionals who are trying to cope with the mayhem. It is not at all clear that further efforts along these lines will be to our benefit. No matter what we do, this contagion is eventually going to reach into every nook and cranny in the state. We are in danger, as I said in my most recent post, of committing suicide for fear of death.

It will be interesting to see whether the Republicans make good on their threats. Generally, they do not have much in the way of backbone. But small businesses are in dire condition, and the Republicans rightly care about their welfare (as the Democrats do not). I just wish that the Republican perspective were not limited to the goals of the chamber of commerce. There is a great deal wrong in Michigan that the chamber cares about not at all.

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  1. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Paul,

    Whitmer seems to be exceptionally witless. Her policies surely are one size fits all. Her political appeal is one gender fits all as long as it’s a woman. Gd forbid she becomes the VP of a non compos mentis clown, like Joe Biden. What a complete disaster she would be as a President. Identity politics is a cancer that has destroyed the Democratic Party. We’ve got to keep praying that it doesn’t destroy the rest of the country.

    Michigan should pry her loose from the Governor’s mansion as soon as possible.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #1
    • April 30, 2020, at 3:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Henry Racette Contributor

    Ms. Whitmer is useful, in that she serves as a poster child for overweening crisis mismanagement. I know others have stepped up to give her some competition, but she’s still the gold standard for tone deaf gubernatorial overreach.

    • #2
    • April 30, 2020, at 4:36 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Ms. Whitmer is useful, in that she serves as a poster child for overweening crisis mismanagement. I know others have stepped up to give her some competition, but she’s still the gold standard for tone deaf gubernatorial overreach.

    Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker takes a backseat to nobody!

    Illinois’ billionaire governor dodges question about his wife leaving town to see out coronavirus pandemic on their $12.1million equine estate in Florida as he extends stay-at-home order to May 30

    J.B. staying out of the back seat is only common sense. Even if he could manage to get in there, you would need the Jaws of Life to get him back out again.

     

    • #3
    • April 30, 2020, at 5:06 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Scott R Member
    Scott R Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I know little about the Michigan Republican Party or Rick Snyder, so I’ll take your word for it, Prof. Rahe. However, as a neighboring Ohioan, I never thought I’d see in my lifetime “that state up north”, home of the dreadful UAW, become a right to work state. So I got a soft spot for the whole Republican gang up there. Can’t help it.

    • #4
    • April 30, 2020, at 5:50 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Al Sparks Thatcher

    Well, an overwhelming majority of Americans support another two weeks of lock down. Perhaps Michiganders don’t, but I suspect they do.

    From THE HILL:

    The poll, conducted April 28-29 among 1,099 respondents, found 50 percent strongly support at least another two weeks of social distancing measures, with another 25 percent saying they supported them. Six percent said they opposed continuing the measures, compared to 4 percent who were strongly opposed. A larger portion—14 percent—said they had no opinion.

    I am disappointed that Americans don’t have more backbone, but there you go.

    And according to the OP, the Michigan Supremes are progressive. So guess what? The court will rule in her favor.

    In the long term, legislatures will have to revisit whatever statutory emergency powers they give their governor. But for now, Michigan will probably remain under lockdown.

    At some point, a majority of Americans will get tired of this. But we’re not there yet.

    And I’m very disappointed.

    • #5
    • April 30, 2020, at 7:05 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Henry Racette Contributor

    Al Sparks (View Comment):
    Well, an overwhelming majority of Americans support another two weeks of lock down.

    I keep reading stuff like that, and it might be true. But a couple of thoughts about it.

    First, it’s risky to judge the character of the average American when the news and entertainment media are a coordinated propaganda machine. I think people are better than they appear, just poorly informed and frequently lied to.

    Secondly, I’m not sure that the opinions of the masses are as important as the opinions of the owners of businesses. I could easily be wrong about that: politicians care about votes more than they care about the economy. But I’d like to think that frustrated businessmen returning to work will carry a lot of weight.

    Again, I could be wrong.

    • #6
    • April 30, 2020, at 7:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Well, an overwhelming majority of Americans support another two weeks of lock down. Perhaps Michiganders don’t, but I suspect they do.

    From THE HILL:

    The poll, conducted April 28-29 among 1,099 respondents, found 50 percent strongly support at least another two weeks of social distancing measures, with another 25 percent saying they supported them. Six percent said they opposed continuing the measures, compared to 4 percent who were strongly opposed. A larger portion—14 percent—said they had no opinion.

    I am disappointed that Americans don’t have more backbone, but there you go.

    And according to the OP, the Michigan Supremes are progressive. So guess what? The court will rule in her favor.

    In the long term, legislatures will have to revisit whatever statutory emergency powers they give their governor. But for now, Michigan will probably remain under lockdown.

    At some point, a majority of Americans will get tired of this. But we’re not there yet.

    And I’m very disappointed.

    That poll was conducted with SurveyMonkey. In other words, it wasn’t a real poll. Here is a description that tries to make excuses for the process:

    SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn’t try to weigh its sample based on race or income. A total of 1,099respondents were collected April 28-29, 2020, with a margin of error plus or minus 3 percentage points and a 95% confidence level.

    That is not a random sample or a representative sample of Americans. And even if it was, we are not told what questions were asked. If we aren’t told that, it wasn’t a real poll, no matter how representative a sample was surveyed.

     

    • #7
    • April 30, 2020, at 9:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Guruforhire Member

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Well, an overwhelming majority of Americans support another two weeks of lock down. Perhaps Michiganders don’t, but I suspect they do.

    From THE HILL:

    The poll, conducted April 28-29 among 1,099 respondents, found 50 percent strongly support at least another two weeks of social distancing measures, with another 25 percent saying they supported them. Six percent said they opposed continuing the measures, compared to 4 percent who were strongly opposed. A larger portion—14 percent—said they had no opinion.

    I am disappointed that Americans don’t have more backbone, but there you go.

    And according to the OP, the Michigan Supremes are progressive. So guess what? The court will rule in her favor.

    In the long term, legislatures will have to revisit whatever statutory emergency powers they give their governor. But for now, Michigan will probably remain under lockdown.

    At some point, a majority of Americans will get tired of this. But we’re not there yet.

    And I’m very disappointed.

    social distancing isn’t lockdown.

    • #8
    • May 1, 2020, at 2:51 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. E. Kent Golding Member

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Well, an overwhelming majority of Americans support another two weeks of lock down. Perhaps Michiganders don’t, but I suspect they do.

     

    It’s hard to tell what Michiganders or Americans think. I personally don’t know a representative cross section of either Americans or Michiganders, and I don’t trust the polls. Why do I not trust the polls? Because almost all of them are designed to influence public opinion, not to report public opinion.

    I do get the feeling that Americans are getting more and more accepting of authoritarianism, as long as they think they will be taken care of. Kevin Williamson once commented that most Americans are more risk adverse than we are — they value a governmental safety net way more than freedom or justice. I sometimes think it is more important for most people to avoid blame or responsibility for bad things happening to them than it is to avoid the actual bad things.

    • #9
    • May 1, 2020, at 3:59 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Well, an overwhelming majority of Americans support another two weeks of lock down. Perhaps Michiganders don’t, but I suspect they do.

    From THE HILL:

    The poll, conducted April 28-29 among 1,099 respondents, found 50 percent strongly support at least another two weeks of social distancing measures, with another 25 percent saying they supported them. Six percent said they opposed continuing the measures, compared to 4 percent who were strongly opposed. A larger portion—14 percent—said they had no opinion.

    I am disappointed that Americans don’t have more backbone, but there you go.

    And according to the OP, the Michigan Supremes are progressive. So guess what? The court will rule in her favor.

    In the long term, legislatures will have to revisit whatever statutory emergency powers they give their governor. But for now, Michigan will probably remain under lockdown.

    At some point, a majority of Americans will get tired of this. But we’re not there yet.

    And I’m very disappointed.

    I bet the same polls in Jan of 1942 also showed a majority were for interning all ethnic Japanese even second and third generation Americans because they were also a treat. American are humans we fall into Mass Mob Hysteria and end up treating our fellow humans like crap. This is nothing new I just wish we had a culture were it happened less not the trend which seems to be happening more.

    • #10
    • May 1, 2020, at 10:54 AM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.