Last Monday, I attended an event here at Eastern Michigan where Gov. Jennifer Granholm was in attendance. The event itself was held in order to get more support to save the Michigan Promise Scholarship.
As you might have heard by now, the Michigan Promise Scholarship is given to every graduating high school senior, which supplies them with up to $4000 to use at any four-year university, community college or technical school in Michigan.
Unfortunately, in its infinite wisdom, the Republican-controlled state Senate decided the program was costing the state too much money and decided to eliminate it altogether.
They must have forgotten that if the state expects to get out of its current economic recession, people must go back to school and get a higher education. Even though I am mad at Republicans’ lack of respect for the 96,000-plus college students in the state, I am more angry at Democrats.
Instead of going after Republicans, the state Democratic party has allowed itself to become a political punching bag. And the top blame goes to Gov. Granholm herself. Over her entire administration she has allowed Republicans to say any and everything they want. Like the president, any executive at any governmental level has what is called the bully pulpit.
Instead of using hers to give Republicans a tongue lashing, Gov. Granholm has used it only to give mediocre responses to Republican attacks. Now, as much as I hate to say it, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick used his bully pulpit very effectively. He put it to good use in answering his critics’ attacks, and even in his last days in office used it to condemn Gov. Granholm.
Even former President Bush during his administration labeled Democrats as being “defeatist” during one state of the union speech. During the 2004 presidential campaign he accused Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry of wanting to serve terrorists with legal papers. This kind of rhetoric is very effective when it comes to elections because going on the attack can energize your base. That can mean the difference between victory and defeat. As Americans we love political red meat.
Now, we know what Michigan Republicans are going to say in 2010 about Democrats. They are going to blame Democrats for the budget deficit, and they are going to blame Democrats for the state of the economy.
Now, Michigan Democrats are going to have to make the point that Republicans are just as much responsible as Democrats for the financial mess our state finds itself in if they hope to be competitive in 2010.
Being a Democrat myself, I’m frustrated with the fact that my state party goes around thinking that being nice is going to get the kind of victories we need. Republicans aren’t afraid to attack — why does it seem that Democrats are?
Now some people may not like negative campaigns, but which is better: to sit down and let somebody beat you with a stick or getting angry and doing something about it? This is the choice that Democrats are going to have in 2010.
If this is the kind of thinking Democrats would’ve had earlier this year we would not be having this fight about the Michigan Promise Scholarship right now. It’s not a very smart thing to allow your enemy to get the upper hand.
It is my belief that Michigan Republicans are way out of touch with the majority of Michigan residents when it comes to the issue of the Michigan Promise Scholarship. In fact, they’re out of touch with Michigan residents on a very long list of issues. If Democrats do not take these issues and use them to pounce on the GOP, then all the gains Democrats have made in Michigan over the last two election cycles are going to be severely in jeopardy.
This is the choice that Democrats have — to fight back or to become a political punching bag.