Standing ovation for Govenor Snyder shows disconnection
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Yesterday The Economic Club of Grand Rapids reminded me how thoroughly disconnected they are from the pulse of the community. Let me rephrase that. The Economic Club of Grand Rapids reminded me that they have no desire to assess a pulse, as a matter of fact, I wonder if they care whether or not this community has one? These may seem like strong words, but I find myself bewildered by the decision of this body to give space and voice to a liar and a criminal, Governor Snyder.
Before someone dismisses my commentary as leftist ridiculousness, let me clarify some things. Yes, I am flag-flying liberal, but that does not mean I am a Democrat. I am not a card-carrying member of any particular party. I believe Democrats in their inadequacy as a state party created space for gross oversights and I believe Republicans in their allegiance to the party have forgotten their obligation to protect the people. Michigan politics, in this moment, disgust me. But it’s not just me they disappoint, it’s an electorate that is being taught that government cannot be trusted. Furthermore, our concerns should truly be centered on this lingering issue that even the polarizing inadequacy that is our United States Congress has yet to address: the Governor committed a crime using tax payer dollars. Which brings me back to why the decision of The Economic Club puzzles me but also why the standing ovation of the audience disgusts me.
You see, I think who an organization creates an audience for says a lot about their priorities. The discussion to be had about the decisions of kingmakers and puppetmasters in this community is one of crucial importance. The Governor did not need a stage to discuss his house of cards. We know the story: lies, deception, financial gain, cover-ups.
The details of the Flint Water Crisis make Watergate look like child’s play – and Nixon resigned. Watergate did not result in the poisoning of a city with chemicals toxic enough to result in hair loss, alter brain development, provoke skin conditions, even corroding fire trucks among many other issues reported by residents in the city of Flint. Watergate didn’t cause a spike in Legionnaires' disease, which is undoubtedly linked to a faulty water supply.
The problematic thing about the Governor receiving a standing ovation is that it shows that there was a room filled with people so disconnected in this community that they would applaud a criminal. Yesterday The Economic Club of Grand Rapids showed us that they are not interested in giving their audience perspective.
A standing ovation said that this audience needed to be addressed by the victims of a crisis orchestrated by their dollars. The audience needed to hear the stories of children whose outcomes have been forever changed. Grand Rapids needed to be reminded that democracy does not exist without accountability and just because it is not happening in your backyard does not mean it doesn’t matter. Just because it is not your child doesn’t mean you can ignore the facts in evidence. Grand Rapids wants so desperately to exist as a state within a state, as though the actions of those on the West side of the state do not impact the lives of those on the East side.
Yesterday, our morality was indicted. Our ability to honor the space of an individual who has violated our trust and currently exists void of any real state accountability shows that we are not capable of running an ethical government.
For every individual that stood and clapped, we were reminded that, even with information, our desire to erase the experiences of others and focus on our direct experiences makes us blind to oppression. The Economic Club reminded us, in their wisdom to create space for a criminal rather than giving voice to the trauma of a city for which we in Michigan are responsible, that the lethargic nature of Grand Rapids is dangerous.
We’ve created a safe space for a liar and a criminal. Is this really Pure Michigan?
Lover of Cat shade (see: Urban Dictionary) and wine. Saginaw Native. Feminist. AmeriCorps Alum. Founder of women reVamped, Director of Strategic Programs at Partners for a Racism-Free Community, Co-Chair of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Grand Rapids.