There are far more reasons not to run for Governor of Michigan than to run, but not necessarily the better arguments. When I ran for Governor against John Engler, I was naïve to the political system. I thought that with appeals to popular support based on policies, I could overcome the gravity of Party leadership and money interests. That strategy worked in the primary, when I was able to meet and talk with individual citizens and debate the candidates ordained by the Democratic Party leadership.
However, the same populist campaign that helped me win in the primary, became the source of resistance not only from the GOP, but also the Democratic Party leadership. If Hillary had a valid complaint that she got “absolutely nothing” from the DNC, she should have seen what happened here. Not only did the party leadership give me nothing in terms of financial or logistical support, they actually worked with the media and the GOP to undermine the campaign. I stepped on a lot of toes and it was a lesson I had to learn: doing what was best for the citizens of Michigan was not enough, and pointing out how the Democratic leadership had not served the interests of Michiganders first was fatal. The most important thing is to play ball with the leadership and the money interests that funded them. The experience left me soured to politics, but not to the rank and file.
The system of party obeisance may still be entrenched, even though the party has lost almost every level of government. I don’t know about party politics, but I do know that Michiganders are starving for a government that is less ideological than it is practical. The only valid issue is “what works?” Michigan under the GOP does not work. In fact, the situation in Flint proves that they are criminally negligent in some regards. I do believe that a Governor should have a foundation of values that guides their decisions. However, those values should begin and end with what will work best for the health, wealth and success of citizens. The days of passing laws to appeal to ideology alone are ending. People care less about banning transgender bathrooms as they do about having safe drinking water, well-paying jobs and getting their children a good education. They want solutions, not rhetoric. The question is … can the political party system in Michigan produce a candidate that are more interested in solutions than power?
So, as much as I disdain the political process of running for office, and as much as giving up my law practice for a few years will be a sacrifice, the best arguments are in favor of offering solutions to our problems. Maybe if we ran campaigns based only on policies and not on personality we could find our way out of this dysfunctional political wilderness, and I wouldn’t feel this sense of guilt for not trying to do something to change the system. Now we seem desperate for something, anything, to change the system.