The late author John Basil Barnhill once wrote, “Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”
For some reason, many people think that it was Thomas Jefferson who wrote this. A lot of quotes are attributed to Jefferson that historians say are inaccurate, such as, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” But Jefferson did actually write, in his 1789 letter to Richard Price, “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”
Michigan’s residents tried to set things to right before they went wrong, in one of Michigan’s largest protests on the issue to date. But Michigan’s Republican-led government didn’t listen, so now it’s going to cost a lot of money to continue the attempt to set things right. And either way, Republicans win.
It’s no secret Republicans want to dismantle unions. Even after the 2012 election, where a considerable amount of money was poured into Republican candidates who nonetheless lost their election bids, Republicans still feel the key to winning elections is money … and unions don’t give money to Republicans. Unions contribute money to Democratic campaigns on behalf of those they represent because unions feel the Democratic platform better benefits those they represent. That leaves Republicans two choices: 1) Reform their platform to better appeal to workers’ rights; or 2) Dismantle unions so that they can no longer support Democrats.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the Republican Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, defended his signing of the “Right to Work” legislation by saying, “This is about the relationship between unions and workers. And this is about giving workers the power to choose.”
The power to choose? Strange, I thought it was clear that Michigan voters did choose.
For instance, Rick Snyder was voted to serve as Michigan’s governor in 2010. During his campaign, he was constantly asked by the press his views regarding unions, and he constantly dodged the question by maintaining his neutrality, giving statements along the lines of, “I’m not anti-union or pro-union.” So, thinking they were electing a moderate, Michigan voters gave Snyder the governorship.
As governor, Snyder went so far as to criticize neighboring GOP governors for pushing ‘right-to-work’ legislation, saying during a February 2012 Associated Press interview, “I think it’s unfortunate that they’ve gotten to that. … They’re still overcoming the divisiveness, the hard feelings from all that.” Snyder went on to say he would continue to resist what he viewed as divisive government.
An EPIC MRA November poll that appeared in the Detroit Free Press showed that 40% of Michigan voters would be less likely to vote for Snyder if he supported a ‘right-to-work’ bill as opposed to 24% being more likely. Voters were, however, evenly split on for- or against-right to work, until they learned the pros and cons – upon becoming more informed, opposition to right-to-work gained a nine-point margin.
So why the very-recent Snyder flip-flop?
Snyder told MIRS at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference in September that there was a good chance he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2014.
Thus, there goes the incentive to keep the governed happy. If he doesn’t need voter support, why would he care whether or not he makes voters happy? By not giving his constituents what they want, Snyder is choosing tyranny over liberty.
And here’s where the win-win-loss comes in.
Remember Wisconsin’s ‘right-to-work’ craziness? According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, in their “Spending on state recalls exceeds $125 million” article, Wisconsin’s taxpayers had to foot $20 million of the county and municipal costs of holding the recall elections after Wisconsin Republicans refused to listen to their constituents regarding ‘right-to-work.’
Thus begins the fight in Michigan. The only tool pro-union advocates have available in order to overturn this legislation is a state ballot initiative, which they are certain to pursue. Interestingly, the legislation has a budget appropriation attached to it that not only prevents it from being repealed by referendum, but makes it so that the legislation will remain in effect until at least the ballot initiative takes place in the next general election – at the end of 2014.
In other words, Michigan will be suffering two entire years of pro- and anti-union rhetoric, while taxpayers foot the bill to place a repeal initiative on the ballot, and Snyder’s donors, who include the Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council, will have a nice new incentive for drawing more donations from its frenzied anti-union base.
A loss for taxpayers and laborers. A win-win for Republicans with greater donations for them and less for Democrats. This may be a short-term win, however; it’ll remain to be seen whether or not the GOP will pay for their sins in 2014.