Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Two Michigans

Recent events in Michigan got me thinking about John Edward's "Two Americas" and it saddened me to realize Michigan could claim a similar title - Two Michigans.

Yesterday, the UAW went on strike against GM in an attempt to hold onto their jobs and keep them from being outsourced to China or Mexico. Meanwhile, our state still faces a shutdown if legislators can't come to an agreement on the budget. Republicans want to cut Medicaid funding, state police, and education, among other things. They also want to
eliminate 2,232 jobs. To add insult to injury, today we learned that Bank of America plans to layoff 1500 workers in Michigan over the next two years. Too bad all these people don't have a union working on their behalf. These cuts will drastically affect the lives of average citizens just trying to give their families a decent quality of life on increasingly stagnant or falling wages.

Contrast that to the lifestyles of those Republicans who would like to be our next president. They recently gathered on Mackinaw Island to hold their Republican Leadership Conference and it was quite the aristocratic affair according to this article in Salon:

The GOP gets gaudy in Michigan
How do Republican presidential candidates woo the beleaguered voters of what may now be a crucial primary state? Party like aristocrats!

For about 36 hours beginning Friday afternoon, more than 2,000 politicians and party activists passed through the Grand Hotel, boozing and slapping backs in one of America's last bastions of Victorian aristocratic nostalgia. One by one, the leading Republican presidential candidates came as pilgrims to pay homage to the gaudy affair. At times, the scene recalled Jack Nicholson's ballroom hallucinations from the 1980 horror movie, "The Shining."

Built in 1887, the Grand Hotel is columned and cavernous, with a candy-striped interior, a pink hair salon, a maroon wine bar and a jewelry store named "The Colony Shop," which was sold out of canary diamonds for the weekend. The wait staff, imported from Jamaica on temporary visas, was entirely black, and they served food to invariably white Republicans while wearing white-tie tuxedos with jackets the color of AstroTurf. (Brochures left in the guest rooms explained that the Jamaican help is provided with laundry and "recreational facilities" at their on-island dormitories.) Croquet and bocce ball could be played down in the Tea Garden, which was decorated with abundant blooming flowers and bushes shaped like horses. At tea time, a harpist in heels played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" while women in maid costumes served tea cakes and champagne just a few steps from an exhibit of vintage oil paintings that showed young girls in lace dresses and young boys with spent shotguns and dead birds. [...]

The candidates' appearances, however, were almost tangential to the real point of the weekend, which was to celebrate the pleasures of money and privilege. The diners supped on cold strawberry soup, prosciutto, and pecan-coated ice cream balls. People did not use the word "money" when they talked about money. "Everyone in this room understands the importance of resources, the importance of finance, in winning campaigns," said Dick DeVos, the son of the billionaire founder of Amway, who lost a costly race for governor last year, which he funded with $35 million of his own fortune.[...]
Yep, two Americas: Those who have the money and power - and the rest of us, the ones who need unions or PACs like MoveOn in order to be heard.

Cross-posted at Blogging for Michigan.


abi said...

I'm surprised Edwards isn't polling better than he is. I think the Two Americas theme hits home with most of us.

I wish he had a better health care plan. That's a showstopper for me.

Larry said...

There is two America's and we can probably use thst phrase for every state.

The UAW is being chastised in the media for going on strike, but GM and all the other corporations get no chastisement ( the exception being Lou Dobbs) for sending millions of U.S jobs overseas, and plans to send millions more.

Kathy said...

Abi, I'm surprised Edwards isn't polling better too. He's picked up quite a few union endorsements, but I think Hillary is still ahead of him in the number of endorsements picked up.

Larry, is it too late to ask Ross Perot to run for president again? I wonder if it would have made a difference if he had won?

Larry said...


I think Perot is too stuck within Corporate America to change the way business treats people.

Kathy said...

Larry, you're probably right, but I still keep hearing his warnings about our jobs being sucked away to Mexico. Maybe that was just campaign rhetoric. :-/