So it’s fall break, and I’m writing this column at my parents’ kitchen table in my hometown of East Lansing, Michigan – a historically blue state. On the counter sits my local paper (the illustrious Lansing State Journal). The headlines trumpet the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder’s performance in Sunday night’s debate against “America’s
Angriest Mayor,” Democrat Virg Bernero (fun fact: I went to high school with his daughter).
And I just voted. I stopped by the town clerk’s office today while running errands, and cast my early ballot for a host of races. Besides the governor, big ones included attorney general, secretary of state, state legislator and of course my incumbent Congressman, MI-8’s Mike Rogers – a Republican. Naturally, I voted straight GOP, but came away from the poll with a decidedly more positive outlook than one would expect a conservative to have in a state so blue.
Many know my home state as the car capital of the country – which goes hand in hand with UAW capital of the country. The United Auto Workers’ influence and cash has propelled many a Democrat to victory here, so for a long time, Michigan was solidly blue (and I don’t just mean that in terms of the God-awful Wolverines from U of M. Reminder: EL is home to Michigan State).
Based on the 2008 presidential elections, we were ranked the 13th least conservative state in the Union, voting about 2.1 percent less Republican than the national average. Barack Obama cleaned house here, carrying over 57 percent of the vote. Two years ago, eight of Michigan’s 15 Congressional representatives were Democrats.
Right now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “So what? Why is this chick telling me all this about that stupid mitten-shaped state? I don’t even care. I mean, their economy sucks anyway, it’s not like they’re that important.”
But that’s the point. My state is as bad as it gets. We have the second-highest unemployment rate in the country (right behind Harry Reid’s Nevada), the auto industry has stalled (har har) to the point where the government bailed it out and of course we are home to Detroit and Flint – two of America’s fastest dying and most dangerous cities.
In light of those circumstances, consider this: looking at the New York Times’ 2010 election projection map, Michigan resembles Texas more than New York. Nine of those fifteen seats in Congress are slated to go to Republicans, and Rick Snyder has held a consistent 20 percent lead over Virg for the governor’s office. On key questions concerning trust in the GOP versus the Dems, repealing the healthcare legislation and whether the country is headed in the right direction, Michiganians are right in line with the rest of the country – consistently favoring Republicans over Democrats.
If even Michigan, one of the America’s most institutional blue states, is turning red, that’s more than a referendum on this administration. That’s indicative of an all-out national rejection of the ideals propagated and legislated by Obama and a Democrat-held Congress.
Many of us are feeling the effects of the trashed economy, whether in the form of family financial problems, reduced stock portfolios or, maybe like me, you’re a senior and you have no idea if this May you’ll be employed, living with Mom and Dad or coming home to a cozy refrigerator box after a long day break-dancing for cash.
But wait – wasn’t this supposed to be better? Didn’t Obama tell us that after he took office, unemployment wouldn’t rise, the economy would improve, people would be going back to work? Didn’t things in this country change?
Try telling that to my cousin, who recently graduated from law school and has been unable to find a job. Or his brother, a construction manager on his third job search in four years – laid off because his companies aren’t building anything. Or any number of the Colgate grads we know who feel lucky because they found part-time positions.
The 2008 election had consequences, and we, America’s youth, have to accept them. Who knows when the job market will improve? All I know is that Obama sounded like a broken record on the campaign trail with his talk of change and creating jobs. Now, those promises are broken, too.
Nothing has changed – OK fine, everything got worse, I’ll give you that. If autoworkers back in Michigan have figured this out, can’t we Colgate students do the same?