Update 11:30 EST. Two things.
1st: So I wrote this during a bout of insomnia and went to bed, and when I woke up three hours later jeezopete I'm on the Rec list. I've never made the Rec list before, and I am honored. Thank you so much, DKos, for reading and listening and all your support of us here in Michigan. We won't let you down!
2nd: When I mention a Bob Seger concert, I mean a short duration of time, not bad quality. Because Seger is awesome.
I haven't posted a diary in about four years; I do better here when I read and educate myself.
But I'm making an exception now because I see a lot of comments in the Michigan threads going down that echo my personal feelings right now. People want to leave. People are leaving, or have already left, or are getting ready to leave. After all, this state has been a tough place to live for a long time, and now it's just gone right down the toilet in less time than the duration of a Bob Seger concert. Sometimes, it seems, a lost cause is lost for good.
Sweeping restrictions on abortions and contraception?
A shiny brand-new Emergency Dictator law to replace the one we repealed through months and months of sweat and stress and hard work?
An erosion of public education in the state that gave the country community-based education?
Anti-Sharia legislation in a state that is home to one of America's largest Muslim-American communities?
Right-to-Work-for-Less in the state that birthed the UAW?!?
And half of these despicable laws have been twisted into a shape that cannot be repealed by referendum -- a lame duck legislature terrified of an educated electorate -- and anyway, we're captive to a gerrymandered legislature that only sends a 33% Democratic congressional delegation to Washington, even as we sport two blue senators and a very healthy showing for Barack Obama.
It's time to get out of here! It's time to leave this place! It's moribund! It's dead! There's a shiny city across the lake, where progressives are happy and heard. Let's go there! All of our friends have! So long, Michigan! Goodbye Coneys and Pasties, Sleeping Bear and Whitefish Bay! As they've been saying for thirty years now, "last one out turn off the lights!"
Now I can't get too preachy, because for many years I was part of that exodus. Michigan gave me the opportunity to leave it behind. I grew up in Flint -- a tough town, but one with a rich and resilient culture. My family was UAW on both sides, and my dad built Buicks, and all those years of union wages gave me plenty of opportunities, and especially the chance to go to whatever college I wanted. I chose a school in Chicago, and then a grad school in New York, thanks to what Michigan and Flint labor gave for me. And about a year ago, with a wife and a daughter, I decided it was time to give something back. My taxes. My time. My passion. My love. To this beautiful, challenging, contradictory place.
So, we bought a house in Flint.
My wife left her job as an RN at a first-rate hospital in Chicago.
I started looking for schools and opportunities for my daughter in Flint. It's still a tough town... but it's still rich and resilient in the most important ways. We weren't expecting it to be easy.
Neither were you.
Michigan is many wonderful things, but these days, "easy" isn't one of them, and hasn't been in a long time.
But this week is a whole new game. Now guilt is in the picture. For progressive Michiganders with the means to leave, it can't just be about us... it's about our friends and families. Right?
How can we ask the people we love to stay here and work for less dignity, less income, fewer benefits?
How can we ask our daughters to live in a place where their doctor and their insurance company will deny them the freedom to make their own medical choices, and so doing, relegates them to second-class citizenship?
How can we stay here, how, when we in Flint (and you in Benton Harbor, Pontiac, and Ecorse) have been told we don't even have the right to elected representatives, and when we had the audacity to reject that argument, were simply slapped down again?
It is temping. It is so tempting, and I've thought about it a couple times over the last few days. I've seriously considered the possibility of moving.
Well, we're not going to move.
This is our home. That capitol building? That's our house. The cowards who have entered our property and are vandalizing it after we have told them to leave -- who can only do this by locking us outside -- ignoring their own constitution ("immediate effect," anyone?) -- their time is up. They know that. Because when I think about the violence my friends have suffered through here, the hard times, the lack of work, the gunshots at three in the morning, the hunger, the lack of police, the unending fires, the $200 water bills, the cuts in garbage pickup, the plundering of our strapped city budget by state appointees... that's something we've endured.
Having endured that, we're tougher than Rick Snyder and Dave Agema and the Mackinac Center and the Koch Brothers. If they had to spend one day in our shoes, they'd be soaking through the soles in a puddle of their own tears.
The hole they've dug us is deep, but we're going to take back this state. We're going to gain back everything we've lost, and then we're going to gain more, and we're going to remind the country why we became the crucible of the labor union in the first place. Just as with the presidential election, the handwriting is on the wall of Michigan. We may have our backs against the wall today, but that's always when Michigan has shown its best. Techno, motown, Rivera's Detroit Industry, the UAW; have you ever noticed that Michigan gave these beautiful gifts to the world right when things were getting really, really shitty outside?
Let's turn that on again.
Let's get that engine going.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to take my little girl to Lansing and we stood and chanted with 18,000 other people who know that this is true. They came from all over the state to raise their voices against a handful of legislators who decided to ignore the vote of this state. 18,000 against literally a scarce hundred legislators.
It's going to be hard, and it's going to take a long time -- a lot of arguing and voting and canvassing and fundraising and ORGANIZING -- but they are going down.
And when they do, I'm going to be right here.
In Flint, Michigan.
This is our state.
We aren't leaving.