Needed: A third party

I woke up the other morning mad at David Bonior, which, if he is reading this, will probably puzzle him, since we've never had a cross word.

Mainly, I was mad at him for not challenging Jennifer Granholm in the Democratic primary for governor, not that we'd ever discussed that either. However, I have a crazed theory that there ought to be at least one candidate with integrity who cares about people.

Possibly even a Democrat, if there are any Democrats left. Old Bonior was one of the last of 'em. Four years ago, Bonior left Congress and ran for the Democratic nomination for governor, and was badly beaten by Granholm, with former Gov. James Blanchard third.

Essentially, the mainstream media functioned as Granholm's press section in that campaign. They were thrilled with the revolutionary thought that we might have our first-ever woman governor, and thought she was cute and warm and appealing and, well, cute. That Granholm stood for nothing, had done little or nothing as attorney general, and was a hack lawyer for the Wayne County political machine was not seen as relevant.

Well, she won. And now we have had four years of the weakest governor we have had in more than half a century. Michigan's economy is almost in economic freefall. This isn't her fault. Yet she doesn't show any signs that she gets it or that she is trying to do anything about it.

Nor does she show any sign of standing for anything at all, at least not without scrutinizing the latest polls. Meanwhile, workers and those hanging on to a decent lifestyle by their fingernails are getting the worst of it. The middle class as we knew it, the quality of life generations fought to achieve, is being eliminated nationwide — faster here than elsewhere.

The bell is tolling for you, too, dear comrade. What do you think will happen to your job when the layoffs and downsizings and bankruptcies cycle through, and the doomed Ford Motor and General Motors and Delphi workers are no longer buying things?

What sort of contract do you think you'll get when the Delphi workers, what's left of them, anyway, end up taking massive pay cuts?

David Bonior thinks we ought to make a stand and fight. He devotes much of his time these days to trying to jump-start a group called American Rights at Work, which is designed, as I understand it, to do something for those many workers who badly need a union but who aren't in one.

What I thought was that the Democratic Party — make that the state of Michigan — badly needs somebody to get in the race and challenge Democrats to be Democrats again. The Granholms want you to believe that common sense "realism" means that we should accept as inevitable that employers are going to happily ship as many of our jobs as they can to sweatshops or call centers in Slavelaboristan or someplace.

Trying to stop this is a bad idea, they will tell us, because if we do the company might move its corporate headquarters and its last 75 domestic employees to Indiana. We should also accept the Republicans' recommendations to build a chain-link fence or a wall across our borders to keep immigrants out (and maybe to keep our labor-serfs in) and we should all learn to love our new fast-food jobs and diminished lifestyle.

Yes, the old days are gone. But we can't protest too much, and we better not push Governor Jenny, because, you know, if she looks too liberal, why, that old devil Dick DeVos will get in, and he'll be even worse.

That certainly is an inspiring vision for the future.

Yet I still remember the refrain from the old civil rights song:

I know if there was one thing we did right

It was the day we started to fight

Keep your eyes on the prize; hold on.


Two months ago, I was pretty convinced I would have to vote for Jennifer Granholm for governor, since the only alternative was the governor from Amway, the slightly creepy DeVos, who is now attempting to buy the election, one TV commercial at a time.

I know what his economic vision is, and it involves all of us going door to door to sell little bars of soap to each other. I also suspect that he is fully tolerant and open to diversity among white monogamous heterosexual males who are members of the Dutch Reformed Church.

Yet last week, when Jennifer Granholm denied the clemency petitions for a group of battered and unjustly imprisoned women, something really hit me. Years ago, my wife walked out of the booth after voting for Howard Wolpe, who had run a totally incompetent campaign.

"That's the last time I vote for anyone for whom I have contempt," she said, or words to that effect. There is no way I can justify voting for the feather duster now in office, even if it means life with Amway.

But I can't vote for Amway, either.

Longtime readers of this column know that I have not been an enormous fan of minor party candidates. They mainly are on ego trips, and historically have messed things up more than they have helped.

Ralph Nader's candidacy, for example, led to the disaster in Iraq, and at least 40,000 dead. He didn't intend that, but that's what happened.

However, it is time for something off the charts, here. Naturally, I was kidding when I said I was annoyed at David Bonior for not running. Yes, I wish he would have. But he would have been attacked and insulted by people he had spent his life helping, would have been accused of wrecking the party, mostly by the most dreadful time-servers.

Not to mention that his message would have been distorted by the media, which would have devoted as much attention to his bald spot, and perhaps would have asked him if he, too, eats peanut butter out of the jar.

The major party candidates are set, and there are only two of them. Yet minor party and independent candidates can still qualify. There is still time for somebody, somewhere, to come forward and come out and stand for something and run for governor.

Maybe the Green Party of Michigan, for example, which last time ran an engineer, Doug Campbell, who at least had a sense of humor. Or someone with some ideas and vision and integrity.

Perhaps we might not mind losing so much, if we could some of the time vote for, rather than against, something.

Your move, Michigan.

Hoffa horrors: I don't know how anyone could object to digging up half of Michigan every summer to look for the long-dead Jimmy Hoffa. How could we possibly spend our limited federal funds more appropriately, or make better use of our limited government and police resources?

Besides, if they ever do find scraps of his bones, they certainly will be holding a sign that says, "Don Corleone did this." The truth, however, is that Hoffa is in the Bahamas, where last year he kidnapped Natalee Holloway to be his sex slave. And they are actually happy now, Mom, really.

Elvis called, and said they are working it all out.

Jack Lessenberry opines weekly for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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