Campaign carpetbaggers

I would think it untoward of an Ohioan, Indianan, or Wisconsinite to move to Michigan and instantly call themselves a Michigander, but I would think it infringing of an Ohioan, an Indian, or a Wisconsinite to come to Michigan simply to interfere an election. Why? Because that’s Michigan's business.

Two years after November 2012, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are back in Michigan, both being but the latest national figures seeking to tip the electoral scales in favor of their party’s candidates. But seeing the rush of non-Michigan politicians to Michigan, I think the whole ordeal is, at a minimum, uncouth. Are state and local elections really the business of Romney and Obama?

While I can better remember Mitt Romney claiming Massachusetts and Michigan as his home states, I can still remember Hillary Clinton moving to New York from Arkansas (where she was its first lady, before the nation’s) in order run for Senate. If the Michigan-born, Utah-educated, Massachusetts-elected Romney’s claim to at least two home states cheapened state citizenship, Hillary Clinton’s run from New York was an outright debasement of it. She was born in Illinois, educed in Massachusetts, spent nearly two decades in Arkansas. If the states are just zip codes, neither Romney’s nor Clinton's actions should bother anyone in the slightest. But the states are not just zip codes. It’s why Romney’s and Clinton’s actions rubbed an awful lot of people the wrong way.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land have already drawn fellow Republicans to Michigan, such as Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida. NH Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky are expected in Michigan within the month. Snyder’s and Land’s challengers Mark Schauer and Gary Peters (no relation) have likewise drawn their fellow Democrats to the state. Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama have come to back their fellow Democrats while President Obama, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton are expected in Michigan in the coming weeks.

Are Christie, Bush, or Ayotte Michiganders? No. Are the First Lady or the Clinton’s Michiganders? No. It's not about Democrats or Republicans or non-affiliates butting in on Michigan’s business; it's about non-Michigander butting in on Michigan's business. I understand Republicans and Democrats weighing in on each other’s races – they want to win, but when it comes to Michigan elections, the quadrennial rush of campaign carpetbaggers ought to be controlled, if only for the sake of Michigan governing itself.

As Eastern Michigan University lecturer Dave Ivers once said, “In my home town, if you move in, you will forever be those people who moved in. Your children will be the children of the children of those people who moved in. Your grandchild will be us.”

Perhaps a bit harsh, but the point remains: towns, states, and nations are more than zip codes. While “the people who moved in” can eventually become just as entitled to participate in local politics as the people already there, the process is not instantaneous. It takes time. Limiting election season campaigners would be one step in the right direction, in the direction of states governing themselves. Because Michiganders have first say in Michigan.

Limiting corporate campaign contributions is already talked about. It’s time cross-state electioneering be talked about too. Be they Democrat, Republican, other, or none, Michigan elections should be no business of a New Englander, a New Jerseyan, a Floridian, an Arkansan, or anyone else other than a Michigander. That’s Michigan's business.


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