Posted on 22 February 2010.
Rick Snyder, the GOP candidate for governor and Ann Arbor businessman, seems to be struggling with more than just weak name recognition. You may have seen an advertisement aired by the Rick for Michigan campaign during the Super Bowl – labeling him as “One Tough Nerd“. Now, last summer during the Mackinac Island conference and the huge initial GOP buildup to the primary season, he adopted a “Rick for Michigan” logo in which the preposition “for” was so small, it appeared as if his name was “Rick Michigan,” a potential miscalculation that has many prognosticators scratching their heads. However, with the new year came a new rebranding for Rick Michigan, accompanied by the One Tough Nerd spot on Super Bowl Sunday.
I remember my dad often making jokes about people called pencil pushers, wearing something called a pocket protector and using mysterious tools known as slide rules. Even with the great value placed on the pursuit of learning in my family, there was a distinct generational attitude towards the stereotype of the nerd as a negative thing. I can’t speak to whether this was rooted in a 1960s grade school experience or a distaste for bureaucrats coming out of the Reagan years, but either way, older folks just don’t like nerds. The opposite seems to be true of millennials – especially in these uncertain times, both genders favor finding a mate who will be able to carry their own weight financially, and like it or not, that grants a certain advantage to nerds. Apathy is no longer trendy – and being involved and aware of what’s going on in the world requires involvement on several different platforms.
The gamble the Snyder camp seems to be making is that the Tough Nerd message will resonate with a wide swath of the population, but he faces a twin set of difficulties. First is that young people just don’t turn out to vote to the same degree that their older counterparts do, which will be compounded in an August primary. Furthermore, despite the relative unpopularity of the Democratic Party in Michigan today, the fact remains that young people (even or perhaps especially conservative ones) generally don’t like Republicans, and certainly not enough to go to all the trouble to support one candidate over another in a GOP primary.
So Rick Snyder, once considered the frontrunner, seems to be dealing with the age-old dilemma that the more people know about you, the less they like you. But this will only be an issue if he sticks with the One Tough Nerd meme even close to as long as he did with Rick Michigan.
Posted in Current Affairs, Kalamazoo, To the Left, Voices/The Times
Posted on 29 October 2009.
As I’m sure many readers are already aware, the Michigan state legislature sent a series of emergency continuation budgets to Governor Granholm’s desk at around 2 am the morning of October 1, narrowly avoiding a shutdown of state government and sending the state’s services into what was essentially regarded the 13th month of fiscal year 2009. Four weeks later, we are still at an impasse, and the only real changes have been strategic ones.
Governor Jennifer Granholm
The governor recently announced the necessity of a further series of cuts to education, bringing the total dollar value of cuts up to $289 per student if new revenues are not raised. Despite Majority Leader Bishop’s willingness to meet with Granholm, and the Senate Republican’s final decision to send the six budget bills passed by both chambers to her desk, his caucus remains obstinate on new sources of revenue. A proposed tax on physicians yielded a weak astroturf effort at lobbying Democratic votes from affluent districts, yet failed along partisan lines.
Granholm has vowed to exercise her line-item veto power and sign the remaining budget bills to make the necessary cuts to higher education, human services, and community health, among others – a scenario that looks more and more likely as Senate Republicans continue to kill new revenue ideas. But if she doesn’t do this by the end of the month, a deadline that has been firmly set for weeks yet now is just hours away, she would effectively be forcing state government into a partial shutdown until a compromise is reached and the 2010 budget is passed in its entirety.
Many observers are speculating that she will do this intentionally, as a means of forcing the Senate to pass new forms of revenue. This would be one hell of a political move, evoking images of the Daley family in Illinois more than Granholm in Michigan. It would be going back on her promise to sign these six bills once Sen. Bishop sent them to her desk, and it would make her directly responsible for the shutdown. Lt. Gov. Cherry may not be a supporter of this decision, since it is certainly not without risk for her entire administration, and he is the unquestionable Democratic frontrunner for the 2010 gubernatorial race. But if she is truly a supporter of the programs intended to serve as her legacy (the last eight years would seem to indicate that she is), the next few days should prove to be interesting at the very least.
Sources confirmed new breaking developments over the last few hours, exclusive to The Kosmopolitan. Wednesday, October 28, House freshmen drafted a letter to be sent to Governor Granholm, Leader Bishop, and Speaker Dillon asking that they stop playing politics and finish the budget. A response was sent late Thursday, casting an ultimatum: that freshmen have until December 1 to find agreeable new revenue sources from which to fund the deficit in the K-12 budget, for FY 2010 and into the future. This would seem to imply that lawmakers will be given until December 1 to fund other shortages as well, including the Department of Community Health and higher education. If this transitive assumption proves true, it is safe to assume that the Senate will pass another continuation budget, extending purgatory for the state another 30 days.
Posted in Current Affairs, To the Left
Posted on 22 August 2009.
The Capitol Building--Lansing, MI
Just two years ago, I decided to attend Kalamazoo College, a small liberal arts school with big opportunities and a big price tag to go with it. While the average cost of attendance hovered just below $40,000 these past two years, grants from the college and my Michigan Promise scholarship have allowed me to attend “K” with minimal student loans.
With my stepbrother headed to school soon and a new baby brother at home, financial aid isn’t a luxury. It’s a lifesaver. Unfortunately, the state Senate failed to recognize the burdens facing me and many other Michigan students when they voted to eliminate the “Promise.”
The fact of the matter is that nearly 100,000 Michigan students rely on the “Promise” to defray the rising cost of tuition, room and board, textbooks and other fees. The state of Michigan created the “Promise” in 2006 to emphasize the need to increase the number of college graduates, and as of the last time I looked, that need has not gone away. In fact, one of the messages that resonated from the recent National Summit at the Renaissance Center was the need for a highly skilled and educated workforce. As Michigan continues to work toward a diversified economic base, education is the centerpiece of the 21st century economy we need to pull us out of the current recession and toward a prosperous future.
Cutting the “Promise” is not only cruel to those who rely on it most, it is shortsighted. If Michigan is going to move forward, the state must foster educational programs that produce the best minds in the world. We cannot hold on to our young people if we provide no incentive for them to stay in Michigan.
As students, we are always told that we are the future. Our state legislators need to reflect on what they are doing and realize they are putting Michigan’s future at risk.
The fight to “Keep Our Promises” has continued well into the summer. On July 15, the MSU College Democrats hosted a rally with Lieutenant Governor John Cherry, and in just a few days the SVSU Dems will host a similar event. If you could not make it up to Lansing for the MSU event, there is some great video footage posted on YouTube. If you’re on facebook, be sure to follow the developments of the “Keep Our Promises” campaign by visiting http://facebook.com/keepourpromises.
Alexander Morgan blogs regularly at http://abmichigan.blogspot.com/.
Posted in Current Affairs, Kalamazoo