Michigan Governor Rick Snyder rose to power in 2010 cloaked in the veil of a moderate. He appealed to voters by saying he was going to be "laser focused" on the policies that grow Michigan's economy rather than get mired in the politics that have kept us off that track for too long. He promised he understood what it would take to prop up the middle class despite being a millionaire himself. He said time and time again that he would run Michigan like a business and forge bipartisan coalitions to end politics as we know it.
The one problem with that? It was all a lie.
Last week, in a press conference hidden safely away from the scrutiny of Michigan's public, Governor Snyder removed any remaining shred of credibility as a moderate with a stunning about-face on "Right to Work," a policy that he himself had recently declared "too divisive" and not something that was in Michigan's best interest. Snyder said not only was he now going to sign Right to Work into law, but that he and his fellow Republican legislative leaders had already schemed to set the bills for a vote that same day, eviscerating the public's right to input.
Nobody, including me, the top ranking Democrat in state government, had even seen the language. To make matters worse, they choreographed a heavy-handed police presence to intimidate the public from even coming to see this legislative disgrace first hand. And when they still showed, the governor ordered the state police to illegally lock our citizens out of the Capitol, even locking some legislators out in the process as well.
In a matter of moments, Governor Snyder did more than go back on his word to the people of Michigan, he exposed the "tough nerd" persona he rode to office in 2010 as a complete fraud. This was not a decision based on economics, it was one based on partisan politics driven by special interests at its absolute worst.
Within hours, protests swelled at the Capitol as thousands of people -- teachers, nurses, firefighters and more -- showed up to voice their outrage. They were angry not only at what was happening, but how it was being done in the 11th hour, under the cover of night, in a lame duck session. Yet despite their outcries and the loud protests from Democratic lawmakers, the governor got what he wanted in the end as Republicans passed this disastrous anti-worker agenda before many in Michigan even knew what was happening.
What he did was offensive. The way he did it was contemptuous.
In the days since, the governor's allies have defended his actions by saying that the legislation provides workers "freedom" and "choice." No matter how they try to spin it, Right to Work is solely about taking away the strength of workers as they collectively bargain for a decent wage, better working conditions and improved benefits. It's anti-worker, anti-family, and the way they're subverting the democratic process to pass it is simply anti-American.
Michigan's legislature will reconvene Tuesday to finalize the legislation and send Right to Work to the governor's desk. Our people will be left wondering why they weren't given an opportunity to debate the issue. They will ask why the governor that once talked about bringing us together now shows such disregard for our rights and contempt for our input.
The answer is simple. He lied.