Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the Michigan Senate are poised to enact legislation that will permit the Governor to use his state’s financial emergency to manipulate his state’s municipalities into bankruptcy, declare an emergency in those towns and cities, and then appoint a professional manager to work their way out of it.
The main impetus is just one more facet of the Republican drive nationwide to attack union contracts and collective bargaining agreements. But what really is on the table is the very continued existence of representative democracy: republican government in communities across that state.
“This plan is a slap in the face to the democracy our nation was founded on.” state Rep. Shanelle Jackson (D-Detroit) said via a released public statement. “It removes elected officials from power and ignores the rights of our voters to choose their local leaders, and instead opens the door for one person to be in control of running our city.”
Under the legislation Emergency Managers who would be appointed by the Governor and not elected by the people would be able to bypass the democratic process entirely in virtually every facet of local government. Those managers could and likely would begin by firing constitutionally elected local officials. Worst of all, the managers may be employees of private corporations put under contract by the State of Michigan to manage municipalities and perhaps even county governments in that state.
Republicans in the Senate and lower house of the Michigan legislature along with the Governor stand to politically benefit from an influx of corporate money from the very businesses selected to manage the cities and counties in crisis and netting those corporate interests a great deal of money.
The right to choose one’s leaders is the very essence of our democracy at all levels. This right was highly prized by the founders of the United States of America and it was reflected in virtually every state constitution as well.
Need we remind conservative and Tea Party Republicans in Michigan and across the nation of the God-given natural rights declared to the world on 4 July 1776 in Philadelphia that are pertinent to this very point:
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it s is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Legal experts in Michigan are expressing concerns that the proposed legislation may be unconstitutional. It would certainly appear so on its face. But how could any American legislators propose such a thing? Where is their respect and understanding of the importance of the vote and the power of the people to consent to be governed? It would be hoped that this legislation will be heavily amended to avoid the usurpation of what is plainly the people’s prerogative to select their own leaders and to voice their concerns over public policy.
But without these things the duty of Michigan citizens should they want to retain democratic government contained in a republican form would be outright revolution: the “appeal to heaven” spoken of by Jefferson’s primary influence in writing the old Declaration, John Locke. Americans have always accepted the right of revolution as the last court of appeal when government becomes tyrannical. That is now happening in Michigan. Make no mistake.
There are undoubtedly constitutional means to head off such foolish and deeply harmful legislation to the democratic process. The legislation would of course still also be a direct assault on the ability of workers in the public sector in local government to collectively bargain.
There is not a ray of light in the proposal of Governor Snyder. Snyder, Kasich of Ohio, the Florida Governor, Christie in New Jersey and the kingpin of hateful, harmful, and socially irresponsible and anti-worker legislation Scott Walker all are Republicans. They all are attacking collective bargaining rights that are held as human rights in many civilized nations of the world. Do America’s leaders wish us to be classified as beyond the pale of civilization?
The foibles of politicians are the shortcomings of us all. They reside exclusively in no party or party affiliation. But at the moment, the Republican Party in the United States is making more than a fair bid to challenge this long-held wisdom. Perhaps it is possible for all the moral limitations of the human condition to be concentrated in one party at a given time in history.
The proposed legislation in Michigan is outright tyranny! It is the duty of every citizen of a republic where democracy is cherished to oppose it with every fiber of his being, to oppose it with every breath she takes, and to fight in the true revolutionary style if necessary! Come the revolution. . . The Revolution may have come unbidden by the hand of a governor in Michigan by the name of Snyder.