In 1998 I decided to run for Governor of Michigan. It was a, shall I say… unique experience. With no experience in politics and a few weeks to go in the Democratic primary race, I jumped into the campaign if for no other reason than to get the establishment candidates to begin talking about meaningful issues. I won the nomination with a guerilla campaign, organized from the streets up. I walked picket lines with UAW workers protesting the exporting of jobs to third world countries. I went to decrepit schools to illustrate the poverty and hopelessness prevailing. I went to events organized by other candidates and funded by their corporate sponsors, to challenge and debate them. But the part that I was most proud of was the fact that I proposed radical (for the time) policies that, had they been implemented, would have made a tremendous difference to the people of Michigan. These policies included a medical insurance exchange to reduce health care costs by up to 30% (which insurance companies and their Republican employees in the Legislature still resist), consolidating school districts before they became bankrupt (as they are now), and legislating safeguards against becoming a “right to (not) work” State. It was a pro-consumer, Social Libertarian platform.
Years of disastrous administrations like Engler, Granholm and Snyder have put Michigan on the brink of financial and social collapse. How many jobs are being lost, cities going bankrupt and school districts are collapsing today, while the religious extremists in the Republican Party are exclusively focused on legislating how you live your life? These should be the questions in the next campaign for Governor: is Michigan a place you would want to start and raise a family today? Is there a future for them here, in Michigan?
I’ve been asked many times since 1998, but for the first time since then I am thinking about it… about challenging the powers again next year. Can it be done?