If someone told you that your state was up for sale and gave you the option of deciding the price, how much would you ask for?
Would you ask for a billion? A hundred billion? A trillion? After all, they're only asking for the right to your democracy. Would you say "no," even if they offered you all the money on earth? According to the Detroit News, the Michigan GOP was faced with this exact question and they said $105,000 was plenty.
Over the last five years Michiganders have been in an excruciating battle with a single billionaire, Matty Moroun, in order to have an economy-boosting international crossing built between Detroit and Windsor in Canada. The current international crossing is run by Moroun, so it's not hard to imagine why he's trying to keep another one from being built.
First, Moroun got the Republican-led Michigan legislature to kill any funding for the new bridge. That should have won it for him, except need for additional international trade capacity is so great that Canada decided they were willing to finance Michigan's side of the bridge.
Not to be defeated, Moroun attempted to have it written into the Michigan constitution via public referendum that no bridge could be built in Michigan without another public referendum. The thought of having to approve hundreds of public referendums was enough for most Michiganders to vote against it, but Matty Moroun spent a fortune trying to sell the idea. Thank goodness Michiganders are full of common sense: the referendum was shot down in 2012 by a decisive margin.
Now Moroun is back to his old tricks. Since 2009, the Detroit News claims he has spent more than $1 million in his attempt to stop the bridge from being built. Of that $1 million, $105,000 went to 18 Republican senators who just recently voted to ban any sale of land for the building of a public bridge.
This, of course, isn't the first time the Michigan GOP has gone against the expressed wishes of voters in order to protect wealthy interests.
Just recently, Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican-led legislature drafted a bill to repeal the previous minimum wage law, instituting a new minimum wage in another part of the state code, all in order to preempt a 2014 voter referendum that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. By shuffling the cards in the deck, the Michigan GOP has made it so, even if the referendum is passed, it will be amending a law that no longer exists -- and thus be null and void.
It's a tragic situation for those with a shred of patriotism or love for the state of Michigan. When I served in the Navy, even as a lowly Petty Officer, I was expected to uphold the highest values of my country and to protect the Constitution of the United States of America. Accepting bribes would have been enough to send me to prison for life and I would have deserved it.
Memorial Day is around the corner and the Michigan GOP is honoring the sacrifice of our veterans by putting my home state up for sale. I'm not sure if there are any words in any language to describe the loss and sadness this news brings me.
If we lived in another country, I'd rally my fellow citizens to fight with their hands and fists, or whatever they had, to keep the dream of freedom alive. Instead, I believe we have an even more powerful weapon at our disposal. If you live in Michigan, or any state where the interests of the wealthy are beginning to overshadow the interests of the public, remember which party is putting it up for sale. The 2014 election is our chance to say that democracy is worth more than any billionaire can afford.