The only thing winning the election for governor of Michigan will be indifference.
Friday I attended a conference where the lunchtime entertainment was provided by five individuals running for governor. The two-hour timeslot was meant to pose questions to the hopefuls and provide a more intimate interaction.
In actuality, it was an exercise in politics as usual. Like a cluster of birds not ironically sitting on a fence, the five potential candidates sat on the brightly lit stage unclearly outlining portions of their not quite complete plan to fix Michigan. Dotted around the border of the room were the handlers, assistants to those on the stage, massaging their Blackberries with their thumbs, like mobile stenographers in the court of public opinion.
I’m passionate about the role of government and the future of Michigan. I think there is plenty of room for open and civil debate on issues like the budget, education, energy and creating jobs. So much room, in fact, that I would have been willing to listen to those expressing an interest in their party’s nomination if they had taken the time to form a complete opinion.
Instead, each question was met with tomato soup: canned answers that didn’t quite fit the question, but would probably sound acceptable in a 10-second clip. Michigan’s problems, and the problems faced by those who live in the mitten or its more northerly counterpart, deserve more than 10 seconds. If it had been easy enough to sum up a solution that quickly, we probably wouldn’t be having issues in the first place.
It should be apparent that I haven’t listed the names of the people running for governor. This is not an accident. It’s the responsibility of we the voters to make informed decisions. Some may not have plans to help our state while others might. Our indifference only exacerbates that of those running.
We can and must demand more from our leaders. All of our questioning will mean that eventually someone will start answering.