Winning Over the Independent Voter

Winning Over the Independent Voter

It’s only a few weeks till election day, and voters who pledge allegiance to a political party are now well fortified in their trenches. No amount of TV ads, emails, or mailers are liable to move those folks out of their positions. So at this point, it’s all about winning over the fabled independent voter.

Winning independent votes with positive messaging is, of course, one possible strategy. But as campaigns hit the homestretch, we are more likely to experience the absurdity of how objectively bad news is enthusiastically celebrated as good news. Because it makes one party look worse than the other.

Okay, fine. But I do have a simple request to the candidates and strategists: If you feel that issues like cratered reproductive rights or galloping inflation will rally voters to your cause, go ahead and use them — but could you maybe not be so happy about it?

Comments

THAT General Motors???

THAT General Motors???

Please don’t think that I am in any way condoning those who embrace conspiracy theories in order to explain to themselves how the world works. Especially in the past decade, this has become a chronic problem with increasingly dangerous results: human rights abuses, denied elections, insurrections. Enough said.

However, in certain instances, I can understand the impulse. For any Michigander of a certain age, a recent story in The Detroit Free Press must have been really tough to reconcile. An excerpt:

GM and the Environmental Defense Fund issued a joint statement Tuesday pushing for an accelerated timetable from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. GM and the nonprofit environmental advocacy group say they want the EPA to set standards requiring at least half of new vehicle sales to involve those without tailpipe emissions by 2030 and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60% for the 2030 model year compared with model year 2021 for light-duty vehicles.

What? GM working together with an environmental group to encourage tougher, more aggressive regulation of their industry? This is definitely not the GM I knew growing up in Flint! Quite the opposite. But then how do you explain it? Well, of course, conspiracy theories are an option. Perhaps a radical cabal of socialist industrialists plotting with deep state environmentalist wind farm unions in cahoots with immigrant drug and pizza cartels that … well, you get the idea.

Upon closer inspection, however, the likely reason aligns perfectly with good ol’ corporate profit goals and returns on investment: GM (like other carmakers) is hoping to ensure there will be a market for all the electric vehicles it is committing itself to build. Not as fun as the conspiracy theories, but much more plausible.

Comments

Are You Offended?

Are You Offended?

In a tweet last Sunday, Meshawn Maddock, the co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, labeled Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. transportation secretary, former officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, and a gay man, a “weak little girl.” Some people were offended. Some even called for her immediate removal. All that is understandable but not likely productive. It certainly was not outside the typical bounds of Maddock or the Michigan Republican Party, so it wasn’t surprising. Frankly, offending somebody is often exactly what they are aiming for.

Me? I’m not offended at all. I’m baffled. Absolutely baffled. I mean, did Meshawn “Shecky” Maddock really think that she was being clever or funny by channeling Mr. Roper from Three’s Company? Does she honestly consider promoting the adoption of electric vehicles to be “gay,” and therefore, a bad thing? Why in the world would she imagine calling anybody “a little girl” to be a zinger insult? In freakin’ 2022?

And, of course, the topper: How does any of this reconcile with being a good Christian?

Baffled.

Comments

Well Actually, It’s a Constitutional Republic

Well Actually, It's a Constitutional Republic

Back in 2004, there was that ballot proposal in Michigan to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It passed handily and forever forbade gay marriage per the Michigan constitution. Until it was overturned (overruled? superseded? made null and void? I’m not sure the right terminology) a decade later when same-sex marriage was legalized for the United States as a whole.

The arguments for the ban tended along the lines of “the majority of people don’t approve of gay marriage, and the majority rules, bub. That’s how democracies work!” My smartypants, “well, actually” response: “But we live in a constitutional republic, not a democracy.” Technically correct, sure. But underneath that, the actual point — popularity doesn’t automatically make something right.

These days I’m seeing the “constitutional republic” argument being used more and more. Not just in cases of gay rights, but issues surrounding abortion access, gun violence, healthcare access, and so on. Curiously, the argument seems especially popular with those who not too long ago were vehement proponents of “majority rules.” Again, technically they are not wrong. I am just questioning their apparent flexibility. It was fine to impose their values on others when in the majority, but awfully convenient that they see those same values as constitutionally protected now that they are in the minority.

It is, of course, natural to want to bend the rule of law to meet a desired outcome. (Making “states’ rights” mean what we want them to mean is something of a national pastime.) But it shouldn’t be a convenient default.

Comments

There Is but One Force Today Powerful Enough to Compel Engagement

There Is but One Force Today Powerful Enough to Compel Engagement

Yes, I know. The editorial cartoon this week isn’t exactly biting commentary. What can I say? I felt the need to make a contemporary joke. And there is nothing more contemporary these days than pickleball.

Have you played yet? No? You will. It’s inevitable — that’s seemingly just how popular it is becoming. And that’s a good thing because it is a lot of fun. Ideal for the times, really. Easy to learn, low cost, very social (but with accommodating social distances), a good workout, and a nice break from streaming devices.

I would like, however, to point out that the genesis of the cartoon did come from a legitimate concern: After Labor Day, we roll in earnest into campaign season for the November election. And it looks very much like us voters will be getting mostly well-crafted talking points for making our decisions. Political message makers (whether the parties, the handlers, or the candidates themselves) are all highly trained to stay strictly to their scripts. And if not their scripts, then definitely their ideology.

This makes any sort of substantive debate or thoughtful interview very difficult. A real conversation (like one you might have after playing a few games pickleball) will be a rare treat.

Comments

Root Causes of Employee Stress

Root Causes of Employee Stress

Ford Motor Co. announced this week that it plans to let go 3,000 white-collar workers, many of whom live in Michigan. In the olden days (pre-Great Recession), a move like this would have been hard to understand. Generally companies didn’t start shedding white-collar workers until they were actually losing money. Ford is highly profitable at the moment and sitting on tons of cash. Also, Ford and other automobile manufacturers have been very clear about their need to attract and retain talent to ensure their success.

But now, the rationale is that the company is preparing itself for (1) a major shift to EV production and (2) anticipated economic volatility. Agree or disagree with the cuts, Ford is acting proactively for itself and its shareholders, and maybe even to the benefit of many of the affected workers (depending on the quality of the severance packages).

However, for the Ford workers who remain, stress levels are likely to move up a notch or two. Your employer has just demonstrated that they are perfectly willing to sacrifice you. I mean, it’s 2022, and none of this is a surprise. But all the same, it feels very much like “The Princess Bride” and what the Dread Pirate Roberts used to say Westley at the end of each day: “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”

Comments (1)

The Secret Life of Dar Leaf Mitty

The Secret Life of Dar Leaf Mitty

I suppose I am as prone to entertaining myself with Walter Mitty-like fantasies as the next guy. For me, they tend to be sports related: a relief pitcher with a 110 mph cutter, a skilled shooting guard but with the shot-blocking instincts of Bill Russell, a world-class 200 meter sprinter. (No additional qualifications for that last one — I just like to imagine flying around that turn at super-human speed!)

All perfectly healthy. But where I think it can get dangerous is when guys (and it’s usually guys) attempt to cross their fantasies over into reality. I mean, it’s fun to watch Patrick Swayze in “Road House,” but it would be a terrible idea to try to be Patrick Swayze in “Road House,” right? So many punches to the face!

Another terrible idea would be to take it upon yourself to prove the 2020 elections were rigged by perusing your own investigation based entirely on what you want to believe and then confiscating voting machines. This is what Barry County Sheriff, Dar Leaf, has been up to. That’s scary enough, but what’s terrifying is likely Republican candidate for Michigan Attorney General, Matthew DePerno, also apparently playing that game.

Guys, enough with the Big Lie-fueled fantasies! Maybe try instead: “The quarterback who leads the Detroit Lions to their first Super Bowl victory.” That’d be an impossible dream worth dreaming.

Comments

Pacing Ourselves

Pacing Ourselves

The first time I ever ran a race of any distance was when I was 11-years-old. I don’t remember why exactly, but it was likely inspired by a summer Olympics. (How else would the boys in my Flint-area neighborhood become enthused about distance running?) It was decided that we would run around the “big block,” which seemed marathon-length but was probably about a half mile.

I got it in my head that I would sprint ahead of the field early in the race, thus demoralizing the competition. After which I would simply glide to victory. So that’s exactly what I did. Except some of the guys kept up with me in the sprint and, now gasping air, the others soon caught up. It was pretty brutal from that point. My legs seemed okay with propelling me onward (I weighed next to nothing), but my lungs, having never experienced such a thing, protested violently.

Out of shear force of will (stupidity?), I took the silver medal. But mostly I was thankful that I didn’t die (because I really thought I was going to). It was a really good life lesson about the importance of planning and preparing properly for a race.

Already the political operatives of the nation and state are begging us to cut our precious Michigan summer short and sprint ahead toward the fall election. Don’t listen to them. Both the summer and the election are too important for all of us to be sucking wind for the next three months. Pace yourself!

Comments (1)

This Is Great! Wait…

This Is Great! Wait...

I’m not typically one for “things are worse now than they used to be” arguments. I see people as fundamentally the same over time — lots of good, lots of bad — but in general pretty consistent from one era to another. For instance, you’ll hear the posit that society today is becoming more violent. Well, I can remember some pretty nasty behavior on the school playground considered to be a rite of passage when I was growing up that would never, ever be allowed today. And we aren’t all that far removed from times when actively enslaving other human beings and displaying decapitated heads on spikes were societal standards.

But one “things have gotten worse” argument that I’m fully on board with: Voting. Specifically, how people determine their votes. Instead of simply picking the most decent, reasonably intelligent candidate who best aligns with our views, we are encouraged, nay, indoctrinated to think like political operatives: What candidate is most electable? What candidate is going excited certain key demographics? What candidate is going to deliver exclusively for our side?

I blame cable entertainment. (They call themselves cable news, but it’s really more of a sideshow than anything else.) They have to fill gobs of time and keep viewers hooked, so it’s an endless stream of nattering talking heads. Spice it up with generous portions of anger and fear, and eventually we’re all pundits. (Or at least we think we are.)

All of which leads to situations like in Michigan’s 3rd district where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee helped a very Trumpian candidate, John Gibbs, win the Republican nomination for the US House because they hope he is more “defeatable” in the November election. It’s exactly that sort of misguided strategic thinking that helped Trump himself get elected President in 2016.

Comments

Limited Government Intervention?

Limited Government Intervention?

Last week Republican gubernatorial candidate, Tudor Dixon, gave an interview in which she was asked whether a hypothetical 14-year-old incest victim should be required by law to carry a baby to term. I guess you could see it as a “gotchya” question, but she has a realistic chance to be our next governor and with these sorts of situations now being thrown back for states to decide, it’s seems within the realm of reason.

Her answer was basically, “yes, absolutely.” Which checks out because it is consistent with her platform and similar positions she has established on the subject. But sensing that she had perhaps said this with a little too much enthusiasm, she tried to walk it back some with “A life is a life for me. That’s how it is … That’s my feeling.”

For an individual citizen, I think that’s fine, even laudable. But not for an elected official, especially a governor, integral to creating, approving, and prosecuting laws — actual laws that have actual consequences for actual people. I don’t want “that’s my feeling” to be an excuse for what my governor does.

Comments

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »