It’s close enough to the campaign for Governor of Michigan that potential candidates are courting donors, sponsors and publicity. This is the season of first screens of candidates by the political donor class – a time when bets are placed on candidates to show for the nomination. It has always struck me that this pre-campaign, campaign is dominated by a few donors and king-makers, rather than a discussion of policy proposals. The race to run is determined by who can raise how much money and political establishment support, not by who has the best ideas to solve our problems. The closest we will come to a policy statement will be meaningless clichés such as “I am a problem solver” or “I will put Michigan back to work”.
When I ran for Governor I made numerous, specific proposals to solve the problems of Michigan, but by the time I wrestled the nomination away from the donors and the Dems, they had decided to take their money and go home. The policies I proposed were eclipsed by the politico-media establishment which focuses on personality rather than policies. Even to this day, when I talk with people about the proposals I made over a decade ago the response is predictable: “those are great ideas even for today – I never heard about them during the campaign.” I suggested a health insurance pool or exchange which has proven to reduce premiums in other states since. I suggested alternative sentencing for non-violent drug offenders in secure facilities where treatment was the focus. I suggested raising taxes to initiate a massive infrastructure program that would not only have produced more jobs, it would have attracted the next generation of employers such as high tech companies. I proposed a system of expanding free education to community colleges to retrain unemployed workers and to prepare the next generation of the workforce.
Maybe some of those proposals would still be great ideas, but one thing seems sure – none of those potential solutions, or any others, will determine who will be the nominees for either political party. The media should be insisting on specific policy proposals from any potential candidate, but most likely the coverage will be about the horserace itself. The nomination process is so bereft of substance that matters that winning the nomination itself is a certification of irrelevance to the welfare of the citizens of Michigan.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a candidate who garnered support for their ideas as a means of winning the nomination?