It’s certainly been a Spring to remember in Michigan.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire nation–and world–with Michigan being one of the worst hit states in the union. As of this writing, Michigan has experienced nearly 53,000 positive COVID-19 cases, and over 5,200 deaths.
The pandemic is crushing our working class, small businesses, and state budget. Not much is happening from The White House, nor its fellow Republican Senate cohorts on trying to further alleviate the pain millions are feeling.
No, to be sure, Dear Leader and The Cult are more than happy to walk around the country without masks while yelling murder conspiracies about MSNBC morning host, Joe Scarborough.
Without question, southeast Michigan has taken the biggest hit by the virus, especially Detroit. What’s more alarming is how 40% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths are African-Americans, even though they make-up just 14% of Michigan’s entire population. Detroit accounts for Michigan’s 1,200 deaths.
The virus is revealing another ugly side of the nation’s inequality in which certain groups of people can’t afford to work from home, nor find adequate health care.
On top of that, we experienced one of the worst floods in Michigan’s history, causing devastation for thousands in Midland, Gladwin, and Saginaw Counties.
This devastation will cost billions to revive the towns and cities destroyed by the flood.
The failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams is shining a spotlight on the dangers of private ownership of dams, and the need to strengthen the state’s abilities to perform significant oversight on dam operators. I’ll have more to say about that in a later post.
But for this post, I bring-up how these two cataclysmic events show that whatever happens in one part of the state affects all of us.
I say that due to the disturbing comments by a Republican state senator last week.
State Senator Kim LaSata defended her Dear Leader’s stance that we must force people back to work because the rest of the state isn’t Detroit, as Michigan Advance’s Heather Donahue reported:
“This pandemic is not only killing people, the disease isn’t killing them, you know not letting them get back to work, and work safely, is killing them. I know specifically two individuals who have died from suicide. I am tired. … I am not Detroit,” LaSata said.https://www.michiganadvance.com/2020/05/22/republican-declares-i-am-not-detroit-in-heated-covid-19-oversight-hearing/
LaSata’s short-sighted, and selfish, statement drew condemnation from many, including Democratic State Senator Adam Hollier of Detroit. Hollier called her statement offensive and frustrating
On Twitter, Hollier said:
“She continued her refrain that she wasn’t Detroit as though COVID-19 is just a Detroit issue. As though there was some blame or some responsibility on the people who contracted COVID-19 and died from it, that they were doing something wrong or this was some sort of isolated incident and that the state shouldn’t be held back for those people.”https://www.michiganadvance.com/2020/05/22/republican-declares-i-am-not-detroit-in-heated-covid-19-oversight-hearing/
It’s no accident LaSata is using a blatant dog whistle to blame Detroit for everything. That’s been the right-wing Republican playbook for as long as I’ve been alive.
But this also shows how LaSata, and the Fox Newsification of the Republican Party, view state politics: Us vs. Them.
They aren’t in Lansing to fix problems. They aren’t in Lansing to find ways to make Michigan a place where people want to live. They aren’t in Lansing to help people–well, they’re in Lansing to help the “good” people that Rich Studley and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce tells them to help.
Michigan’s Republican Party is in Lansing to serve those who demand being served.
That’s why you see Rich Studley constantly tweeting and complaining over Governor Whitmer’s shelter-in-place orders. Rather than treat this pandemic like the 100-year phenomenon it is, and thereby demand his Dear Leader in the White House to push for policies helping the very people he claims to defend, Studley sticks to his politics of sticking-it to hard-working Michiganders.
That’s why Michigan Republicans are happy to stoke the ignorant anger from The Trump Cult. They know The Cult will do whatever Dear Leader tells it to do, and if that means dying for the good of the almighty dollar, then…cool.
Jess McIntosh From Sirius XM’s “Signal Boost” recently summarized how these so-called shelter-at-home protests by armed white people is over their right to be served:
It’s not about “reopening the economy.” People aren’t protesting for the right to BE waitresses and hairdressers, they’re fighting for the right to HAVE them. This is about white people demanding service. pic.twitter.com/KMupBTuAha
— jess mcintosh (@jess_mc) May 15, 2020
So, when you hear dog whistles, like the one used by State Senator LaSata, remember, that’s what it’s all about.
It’s also baffling LaSata would take such a Detroit vs. Us approach considering the virus has claimed over 40 lives of her fellow Berrien County citizens while infecting around 600 more.
And meanwhile, other West Michigan counties, such as Kent, have seen their case numbers rising.
But Michigan Republicans see southeast Michiganders as THEM, particularly Democrats. Why should they be responsible for those people, many of them people of color? We must blame them for why the state is suffering for this pandemic–a pandemic Michigan Republicans simultaneously don’t really believe is all that bad!
They want service, and they want service, now!
We’re sorry for you Michiganders living paycheck-to-paycheck, but that’s why you’re here: To serve them.
Of course, people like LaSata and Studley could go the other route, and blame their Dear Leader in the White House, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for refusing to lift a finger to help workers. They could rally their base for Congress to pass a bill giving working Michiganders a monthly $1200 check during this pandemic. Or maybe they could push for McConnell to pass a bill giving states, like Michigan, needed financial help to prevent a depression?
Silly, Pat. That’s not how Michigan Republicans and their corporate benefactors operate.
Besides, Congress already shoveled billions to multi-national corporations, and The Fed already funneled trillions into the stock market to prop-up Wall Street! The right people have been served.
It’s strange because if you don’t have customers, then what good is it to re-open the state if there are no customers? And don’t businesses want as many customers as possible? Couldn’t one argue that Whitmer’s shelter-at-home executive is ensuring businesses will have more customers once the pandemic is over? Even more, couldn’t one argue that by saving lives, businesses will have more workers to serve those customers?
It’s not rocket science?
Which brings me back to the failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams.
Again, thousands are left with nothing despite the Edenville Dam receiving a high-hazard rating last year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Like with COVID-19, most of those thousands of Michiganders whose lives are forever changed are not at fault at what transpired.
They ought to receive compensation to re-gain some footing. I don’t think anyone can argue that point.
Even Republicans, such as House Speaker Lee Chatfield, or Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, state Senators Ken Horn or Jim Stamas, or even Kim LaSata, believe those citizens need our help, and the federal government’s help.
However, as former Michigan Democratic Party chair, and friend of the LOL Podcast, Mark Brewer recently pointed-out:
Question for those @migop legislators who want to separate themselves from SE Michigan because of COVID-19: do you now expect SE Michigan to care about and pay for your dam problem which is primarily a problem in your regions? Are we one state or not? https://t.co/CnXJVU6bOp
— Mark Brewer (@MarkBrewerDems) May 25, 2020
These two horrific events, clashing at the same time, prove that what happens in one part of Michigan, hits all of us. We can’t be stuck in the time-honored territorial battles Michigan’s right-wing wants us to fight.
There side is losing power, and they know it.
But like that one friend who egged-on others to fight, but were nowhere to be found once the fight ensued, Michigan’s powerful right-wing voices will keep pushing for division, and hope to keep some level of power.
Without this division, they are nothing.
And they know it.