Skip to main content

Last year, the Michigan legislature passed the Emergency Manager Act, giving near dictatorial power over selected local governements and schools systems to emergency financial managers appointed by the Governor.

A grass roots movement collected signatures to put a "referrendum veto" proposal on the ballot. The ballot proposal allows the Michigan electorate to vote No to emergency managers and in effect veto the law.

The local paper asked a spokesperson for Governor Snyder to write a column in favor of the law. I was asked to write a column in opposition.

The column had to be 400 words or less, which meant there wasn't much room for specifics. I chose to frame the issue in terms of democracy.

The column is below.

Reaffirm Democracy. Vote No on Proposal One

Politicians love to wax eloquent regarding the principles of democracy and liberty. The actual practice of these ideals, on the other hand, appears to bother many of them.  

Democracy is messy. Liberty is often inconvenient. Many times we don’t get what we want. The politicians’ response? Too often they pass legislation to subvert the Bill of Rights and to undermine the American electorate.

Over the past decade, we have seen the erosion of many of our freedoms and rights. Due process, the right to privacy, and the 800 year old right of habeas corpus have been undermined. The Emergency Manager Act, passed last year and the brainchild of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is one of the most egregious examples of these autocratic laws. Don't like the government elected by the people? Appoint an Emergency Manager and simply eliminate local government. This draconian law, in essence, creates a quasi-dictatorship.

Under this law an Emergency Manager can “exercise any power or authority of any officer, employee, department, board, commission or other similar entity of the local government whether elected or appointed."  Read that again and ask yourself if this is how you would define democracy. This law allows power to be stripped from local elected government bodies, permits any governmental services to be privatized, and allows employee contracts to be nullified. All this can be done without the consent of the voters.

There is a certain irony that many of those who support the EMA are allegedly in favor of smaller government and more local control. Unfortunately these supposed core values are trumped by greed and avarice, and the opportunity to make money in privatization schemes and by exploiting employees. If ALEC is involved, it is always wise to follow the money.

If the past is any indication, emergency managers will not solve the problems of financially distressed local governments. But the key questions are these. Even if this law resulted in more efficient government, even if "the trains ran on time", is it worth trading away our freedom and liberty? Despite its problems and flaws, are we not in favor of democracy?

Back in 1947 Winston Churchill stated, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried".

It's not a difficult choice. Vote for democracy and against the Emergency Manager Act. Vote No on Proposal 1.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site