It wasn’t a misprint. He didn’t misspeak.
Mayor Virg Bernero, last year’s unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial nominee, was genuinely agreeing with his former opponent, Gov. Rick Snyder, during Monday’s State of the City address.
Snyder is saying City A needs to share more services with City B and Townships C, D and E if they want a decent amount of $, $ and $ from the state. It’s no wonder Bernero is four-square behind Michigan’s CEO since there’s money involved.
I know Bernero’s been beating the regionalization drum long before Snyder started tying revenue sharing money to it. But Bernero didn’t need to go out of his way to say "I agree" with Snyder.
He did, though. So is any good Democrat these days. They all seem to be finding something from the Republican’s State of the State address they like.
Front and center is Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer. The man who never met a Republican he didn’t disagree with told reporters after Snyder’s talk that he agreed with "80 percent of it.”
Newly elected Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, the state’s most liberal state House member in 2010, praised Snyder for pledging $25 million to the Pure Michigan advertising campaign. The Detroit delegation was starry eyed about Snyder re-jimmying the emergency financial manager law and popping an urban renewal proposal.
Who popped out of their seats when Snyder proclaimed his love for the proposed Detroit River International Bridge Crossing? It wasn’t the right side of the aisle, that’s for sure.
The day after the State of the State, the Michigan Democratic Party issued a lightly covered press statement, which reads in part: "Democrats will work with Governor Snyder to seek bipartisan solutions that reform our government, create jobs and help restore the economy … We will work with Republicans in the legislature to pass sensible, bipartisan reforms … ."
That’s code for: The voters gave us the spanking of their lives back in November and now we’re crawling back to the general public to say, "We’re sorry. We’ll try better this time."
And why not? Your average Michigan voter isn’t a hard Republican or a hard Democrat. They wouldn’t have voted overwhelmingly Democrat in ’06 and ’08 before taking a hard turn to the right in ’10 if they were.
Joe and Josephine Six Pack are angry that no matter who is in charge, they’re seeing the same old political baloney. One side lashes out against the other with foolish rhetoric when it’s transparent the only goal isn’t the public good, but to score political points that are tallied up every other November.
Yes, one side wins and gains power, but to what end? What good is being in charge when you do nothing with it and fail to improve the lot of those who put you there?
Voters want cooperation. Is that so much to ask for? Get along. Please. Why does that have to be such a huge request? Just because politicians treat public service as a football game — complete with winners, losers, pre-game punditry, on-field fighting and all the rest — it doesn’t mean the rest of us do. In fact, we don’t.
It sounds like the Democrats are getting it. You could say they don’t have much of a choice. They are not in a position of power in Michigan.
But Brewer et. al. could strike a contrarian pose. He could take a page out of the GOP’s playbook from 2009 and become General Nada marching the Party of No into battle.
Yet, he’s publicly giving the politically pragmatic Snyder the benefit of the doubt, for now anyway. If the R’s start playing the same old political games, all bets are off. To do otherwise, at this early honeymoon stage, would look tacky, especially since there’s no way Brewer would ever gush over any State of the State given by a more partisan Mike Cox, Pete Hoekstra or Mike Bouchard.
There’s something more at play here, too. Brewer mentioned that Snyder’s biggest problem in passing his agenda won’t be the Democrats. It could be the conservatives of Snyder’s own Republican Party.
If that’s true, the Democrats — in openly agreeing to work with Snyder on his agenda — could drive a wedge between the moderate-sounding governor and the Sarah Palin-lovin’ Tea Party faction that serves as the Republican Party’s bedrock right now.
Splitting the Republicans between the conciliatory half who want to get something done and the ideologues who want their own "conservative principles" has the long-term benefit of carving up voters when it comes time to re-elect President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
That’s a touchdown for Democrats. Of course, what does it matter if we all quit keeping score?
(Kyle Melinn is the news editor of the MIRS Newsletter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)