This is a piece I was commissioned to write for Ragan.com:
This is a piece I was commissioned to write for Ragan.com:
Detroit Free Press Editor Ron Dzwonkowski wrote a good column for today’s paper about how elected officials are often the last people to “get it.” He wrote:
“Maybe that’s why they continue to bicker and shout and pander to noisy special interest groups while most of the people they are supposed to represent would prefer cooperation, meaningful change and progress.”
I was pleased to see Dzwonkowski quote my friend Becky Johns as a representative of her generation. Becky recently wrote an excellent blog post about Future Midwest — I especially liked the part where she asks, “Now what?”
I commented on her blog, saying it really is important to make sure events like Future Midwest don’t end up just becoming a bunch of people talking to themselves about what should be done. People have to take ideas and act upon them; that’s how you create positive change in a community.
Our elected leaders — at the state and local level — are such a disappointment lately with their petty battles. I was a speaker at a conference in Oklahoma City recently and they are making some amazing, positive improvements to that city. When I asked a colleague there about the changes and whether the mayor who has been championing a lot of them is a Republican or Democrat, he seemed surprised. He said the mayor is a Republican, but noted that in Oklahoma City, that doesn’t really matter. He said the city has a good track record of not worrying about the politics and focusing more on the problem at hand.
It was tough to admit to him that one of the issues we’re facing in Michigan is that politics often is the problem at hand. Hopefully, we’ll see some sensible people elected in November who can bring to Lansing some civility and a desire to do something because it’s a good idea regardless of which party proposed it. Here are some things I’d like to pursue over the next year:
I hope Becky and her peers never lose their desire to do more than just talk about what’s wrong. In the end, they are not only the future of this state, but the catalyst to sweep away the flotsam and jetsam that is bobbing around the state Capitol and the city halls of Southeast Michigan. And those of us in other generations can help them do this. Get involved in the election process. Find out what a person really stands for and don’t vote based on what you see on TV ads or the campaign literature that is filled with half-truths, or worse.
In addition, let’s start working together across generations. People often wring their hands and wonder why young college graduates are leaving Michigan. Maybe that’s because, too often, we’re not giving them a reason to stay. It’s not just about jobs. Sometimes it’s about knowing that there is a bright future in Michigan. The light bulb has dimmed in the Great Lakes State, so it’s time for a new one.
How many Michiganders does it take to change a light bulb? All of us. So let’s get to it.
(Photo courtesy of Armistead Booker’s Flickr stream.)
I attended a pundit summit in Lansing, Michigan this afternoon where folks involved in elections and politics from the public and private sectors came together to talk about what happened on Nov. 4.
One of the panels discussed the presidential campaign in Michigan. The panelists included two people involved in the Obama and McCain campaigns. Holly Hughes is a National Committeewoman for the Republican Party and a losing candidate for a state House seat. She was joined by Amy Chapman, Michigan Director of the Obama for America Campaign.
Chapman noted that, in Michigan at least, the Dems were able to use the Obama win to make sweeping changes in the balance of power at state and local levels throughout the state.
Chapman said she felt great about what they were able to do organizationally, which is an important point. Several reporters and pundits throughout the country have commented how the Obama campaign was more organized than the McCain campaign was. I can’t speak about either campaign personally, but I can tell you from talking to friends and colleagues that many Republican campaigns in Michigan were a mess.
Hughes said 2010 would be a whole other story. While Chapman said the Dems’ work this year will help with more Democrat ticket sweeps in two years, Hughes disagreed. Never giving up on her Republican Kool-Aid spin, Hughes said Obama’s honeymoon will end quickly and, particularly in Michigan, we’ll see more tough times ahead. According to Hughes, that means Michiganders will be ready to hand control back to the GOP at the state level in 2010.
The political situation in Michigan is critical in 2010 because the stage has been set for the Democrats to take over completely. They could hold on to the governor’s office and the state House. They could take over the state Senate for the first time in nearly three decades and they could land a majority on the state Supreme Court. Impressive on its own merit, that kind of sweep would put the Democrats in a position where they can take on the task of redistricting for state and congressional districts in Michigan without a challenge. That means they get to draw the voting maps used through 2020.
What do you think? Is Michigan going to turn entirely blue in two years? Or will we take the usual road the Great Lakes State follows and keep a mixed bag of leadership fighting for attention in Lansing?
For too many decades now, the American people have shrugged their shoulders and thought they couldn’t make a difference in the voting booth. On Tuesday, Nov. 4, they were proven wrong. While I didn’t support Barack Obama for president, I was thrilled to see the groundswell of activity and hope he brought out of those who did support him.
This is the United States as a democracy. This is the people standing up to be counted. This is what makes the United States of America the best place in the world to call home.
I am worried that the giddiness people feel right now will lead to a big letdown when the reality of the current Washington political machine kicks in, and kicks the hopes and dreams of Barack Obama’s best intentions to the curb.
Only when we truly wake up and realize there is more to the governing of this country than can be handled by just Democrats or Republicans will we truly see something different and special. There were many people on the ballots across the country on Nov. 4 who were ignored by the media. The Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and many others stood up and tried to have their voices heard only to be dismissed by the media and the voters.
People often complain that “Washington is broken.” Well, it’s broken because we’ve allowed a two-party system to maintain control for too long. Washington is broken because both of the major parties are competing to prove to America that the political system cannot be fixed.
If Obama showed us anything, it’s that hope is still alive in this country. Great, now let’s start hoping for an end to politics as usual and an end to the tyranny of a two-party system.