Tonight, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero will attempt to convince students and staff at Eastern their vote should be cast for him in the approaching midterm election. The event, entitled “Education: Invest Now or Pay Later – The Pathway to Economic Stability”, is certain to be replete with populist demagogy.
Mr. Bernero should not be judged merely on his rhetoric, but on his policies and role as a representative of the capitalist class. A Democratic Bernero administration will differ from a Republican Snyder administration only in approach and style, not in overall strategy or trajectory. Both will carry out the economic restructuring orders dictated by the financial elite.
Moreover, the interests aligned behind the Bernero campaign – particularly the bureaucracy of the United Auto Workers union – give an indication of the anti-working class direction his administration will take.
Following the withdrawal of Lieutenant Governor John Cherry from the race, the UAW bureaucracy swung its support behind Bernero, who was a fervent and vocal supporter of the Obama administration’s bailout of General Motors. After virtually handing over the keys of the U.S. Treasury to the country’s largest banks with no strings attached, Obama made relief for the auto companies conditional on the closure of dozens of plants, the cutting of pay for new hires in half, and the gutting of benefits and legacy costs for retirees.
The auto industry’s return to profitability has paid off for the UAW bureaucracy, which now holds a substantial stake in GM and Chrysler. The reward for Bernero’s support in the destruction of tens of thousands of auto jobs has been the more than $2 million in campaign television commercials paid for by the UAW.
The Bernero candidacy engenders a provincial outlook with economic nationalism and American chauvinism, a time-tested approach for diverting public anger at a foreign boogey man. Without explaining why Michigan has undergone three decades of deindustrialization, Bernero simply promotes the state’s road to recovery in reviving manufacturing jobs and a “Made in Michigan” campaign. This has as its national equivalent the no less reactionary
“Made in America” campaign so ardently supported by congressional Democrats.
The midterm elections in general promise to make a mockery of the already discredited American democracy. If the primaries are any indication – this year’s statewide Democratic primary brought out only 526,000 voters, a 50 percent drop since the last contested primary in 2002 – the ballot will be conducted amid mass abstention.
However, the growing lack of confidence in the Democratic Party does not imply increasing support for the Republicans. The gains the Republican Party are expected to enjoy will be the peculiar result of an undemocratic two-party system that allows the political expression of the population to be realized only in the most distorted of forms.
President Obama and the Democrats are welcoming a certain level of Republican gain to serve as political cover for its continual lurch to the right. Following the election, the media will inevitably chime in the American people have rejected the “left-wing,” and even “socialist,” policies pursued by the Obama administration.
Regardless of what promises Bernero offers students with regards to education at the event, he remains a member of the Democratic Party – the party that is spearheading the attacks on public education across the country and in Michigan in particular. In addition to being the political party of Detroit Public Schools financial manager Robert Bobb, who will oversee the destruction of dozens of schools this year alone. It is also the party of current Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm who signed off only weeks ago on a cut in funding to the state’s 15 public universities by nearly 3 percent.