Memo to Gov.-Elect Snyder

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    380pxLead-Snyder

    Congratulations governor-elect Rick Snyder for winning the confidence of the people of Michigan as proved in Tuesday’s historic election.

    The voice of the people must be respected because it shows democracy at its finest when those who feel disenfranchised are able to speak out on how they are feeling by way of the ballot box.

    Yet we must quickly remind ourselves, Mr. Snyder, that we live in a capitalist society and as a former businessman, you understand very well what that means and how it relates to the means of production. If capitalism entails social Darwinism then the government is obliged to protect the weak and the poor. So when the Republican tenet says pull yourself by the bootstraps, how do you explain that, Mr. Snyder, to those who have been jobless for the last two years?

    How do the unemployed start pulling themselves by their bootstraps without the support of the government? Yes, I under the principles of free market enterprise and I agree that the government should not be involved in every aspect of our lives. But the undeniable fact remains that the government is supposed to create an enabling environment for the big and small to thrive.

     

    How do you ask families who have been displaced by the foreclosure crisis to pull themselves by their bootstrapa?

    As governor, the onus lies squarely on your shoulders to show us that now that the campaign is over, it is time to govern. And in governing you have to be sensitive to the needs and the aspirations of the people who elected you, which are far removed from political maneuvering and gamesmanship.

    Creating jobs to address the high unemployment we find in Detroit and other cities across the state is not about political maneuvering and schemes. There are many families in Michigan and in Detroit who are suffering and want their governor to attend to their needs and not satisfy age-old political ideology that is out of tune with the realities of 2010.

    Mr. Snyder, even though you ran under the Republican umbrella, your campaign basically was run like that of an independent candidate.

    On the campaign trail you talked about how independent you are in your decisions. In fact, three weeks ago in an editorial meeting when I asked you if you are truly a moderate Republican, you responded by saying you don’t answer to labels. You left me with the impression that you would be governor for all the people, a voice of reason.

    Therefore I don’t expect you to follow the official Republican line in Washington — which according to Sen. Mitch McConnell is to destroy the Obama presidency — which has put the party at odds with Black voters.

    You cannot say you love Detroit and want Michigan’s largest city to be part of your central cities program and at the same time want to support the legal challenge against the historic health care legislation that affects Black voters.

    For all the seemingly sound reasoning behind the legal challenge, the fact remains that Black voters like other communities of color face the brunt of health care disparities. Thus it is important that your office does not send mix signals to our community on where you stand on the issues that are most important to Detroit and other cities.

    Please do not refer to the health legislation as “Obamacare” because since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Social Security into law as part of his New Deal, no one has called it “Roosevelt Security.” Today everyone, regardless of party affiliation and the color of their skin, enjoys Social Security.

    I will not fail to commend you when you do something commendable. If you are independent, as you said, I don’t expect you to pander to the fringes of the party or to the southern Republican governors who have made it their mission to reject federal stimulus money because it comes from the Obama administration.

    Families in Michigan don’t expect their governor to play convenient politics with their present and future by rejecting stimulus money or by shying away from working with the federal government on policies and programs that benefit the middle class and poor. They are the ones suffering in Michigan, not the rich and mighty.

    I have seen politicians vacillate and in Michigan we have witnessed a lot of costly political maneuvering that we can no longer afford in the face of joblessness, urban decay and family disarray.

    You said you would support re-entry programs for those coming out of the justice system of which the African American community is heavily impacted. You also noted that you would support more funding for mental health and other social programs. I hope you abide by your campaign promises and that we don’t wake to surprises that speak to business as usual, and the divisive politics of fear that has been used to manipulate peoples’ emotions throughout this campaign season.

    I observed that during your campaign that you did not campaign with the Tea Party Express bus. Some interpreted that as you running away from the Tea Party. While there are legitimate concerns raised by some members of the Tea Party some elements have used this group as a cover for hate and intolerance.

    If you will indeed be an independent governor, seriously examining any position by the Tea Party before agreeing with them would be an admirable thing.

    You have an opportunity to prove the skeptics wrong and be a different kind of Republican governor, the kind that Bill Milliken was.

    Because Milliken endorsed you it is my hope that your administration will embody the spirit that inspired Milliken to embrace Detroit unlike any other Michigan governor. He championed issues around the environment and other matters that were not necessarily cut out of the Republican play book.

    Your task now will be to work with all sides of the political aisle without getting caught up in the toxic politics that have made a lot of people given up on government.

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