The governor of Michigan is trying to force through the legislature a bill that would establish emergency rule, LITERALLY. Gov. Snyder is seeking emergency powers that would enable him to 1) unilaterally declare a "financial emergency", 2) disincorporate entire municipal governments, 3) dismiss elected officials with no replacement election to follow, 4) seize control of local civil services, 5) hand taxpayer money, services and POWERS to private, for-profit firms.
Gov. Snyder's plan is the same kind of flagrantly undemocratic "emergency rule" used by military dictators to oppose any semblance of democratic opposition to their policies. While no one expects Gov. Snyder will be rounding up dissidents any time soon, the fight in Michigan is NOT about unions; the governor is attempting to wrest from the hands of every citizen of the state of Michigan, the right to determine who governs at the consent of the governed.
His plan declares an immediate end (with no projected restoration) to the founding principle of our democracy: that public officials may govern ONLY at the consent of the governed.
There is no moral, philosophical, legal or practical justification for Gov. Snyder's claim that a "budget emergency" gives him the right or the power to order the suspension of electoral democracy in his state. Those who support his radical agenda will argue that this is not what they intend, that they are merely trying to be "expedient". This is always the argument of statist profiteers who seek to centralize power; this was the argument of Italy's fascists.
The process which allows the people to govern their government is absolutely sacrosanct in our democracy. There is no way for us to be the free society we claim to be, if that process does not remain sacrosanct. The budgetary discomfort and long, difficult days of work that some public officials might face given budgetary discomfort, are absolutely not a justification for eliminating the democratic process or establishing unilateral executive rule.
Gov. Snyder's proposal is an insult to and a vicious assault on the founding ideals of our democracy, and a betrayal of everything the state of Michigan is supposed to stand for. This power grab is one of the most egregious and unashamed we have seen in any legislation in our nation's history, and a very real threat to the basic civil liberties of the people of Michigan.
There should be an immediate federal investigation launched into this deliberate and coordinated attempt to strip the people of Michigan of their most basic right: the right to determine who governs and to build and to participate in their own communities.
UPDATE, Wed. March 9, 2011: Today, the people of Michigan staged the biggest demonstration in the history of the state's capitol, to protest the governor's emergency rule proposal. When Democratic lawmakers proposed an amendment requiring that the no appointed emergency budget manager be contracted for any amount higher than the annual salary of the governor, the Republicans rejected that amendment and voted to allow for-profit firms to take unrestricted sums as compensation for dealing with a "budget emergency", even if those sums would further deepen the supposed crisis.