Politics & Prejudices: Becoming the martians

Nov 2, 2016 at 1:00 am

A week from now, if this country isn't entirely hopeless, we'll wake up to a world where President-elect Hillary Clinton has won a solid victory — hopefully, one resembling a landslide.

Democrats will also have solid control of the U.S. Senate and have made major gains in the House. If the gods for some reason are smiling on us, they will shock political scientists by getting a majority there too, though that's unlikely.

Closer to home, Democrats will have won a majority in the state House of Representatives, meaning recycled accountant Rick Snyder will no longer be able to mindlessly rubber-stamp the host of awful legislation the right-wing crazies in the legislature have been regularly sending off to his desk.

Better, by far, that he spend his last two years in public life with a system that forces some degree of accountability.

Pursue the daydream to its ultimate limits, and you have a special van easing L. Brooks Patterson and his wheelchair out of his Oakland County office, returning the 77-year-old to his ranch house and his liquor cabinet, where he will be able to babble about Coleman Young and treacherous Syrian refugees into the night. Not all these things are likely to happen.

But even if they do, that's when the hard part starts.

Because if you think you can leave it to Clinton and a bunch of other politicians to fix things, you are going to be so goddamn disappointed.

You and I and a whole lot of other people are going to have to pressure them. That, and do a whole lot ourselves.

Sorry, that's the way it is. People like to say politics is the art of the possible, until once in a lifetime somebody does something that was supposed to be impossible.

Bobby Kennedy, who might have changed the political world, used to say: "Some people see things that are and ask why; I see things that never were, and ask why not."

Electing a black president was supposed to be impossible, as was getting national health care. As I write these words, a bunch of talking heads on the cable channels are all saying that the basic pattern of red and blue states can't be changed, and nothing much different will happen next year either.

Same old gridlock; same old patterns. These are the same geniuses, of course, who told us all last winter that Donald Trump didn't have a chance to be nominated.

To paraphrase what Humphrey Bogart said of Peter Lorre in Casablanca, I suppose I would despise them if I bothered to think about it. However, they do have a point.

We will get the same old, same old unless we do something about it. Bernie Sanders, who wasn't supposed to do as well as he did either, said President Barack Obama made a mistake when he didn't keep the army of folks who elected him together as a pressure group. Something like that is needed more than ever.

Clinton isn't evil; she is someone who went to Yale and feels at ease in Wall Street boardrooms making speeches to millionaires for large sums of money. She needs to be pushed.

Forget worrying about bullshit. We have more and more kids in this country who are drowning in debt from money they borrowed to get a college degree. Student debt has risen to $1.45 trillion, three times what it was a decade ago.

That is affecting and sometimes choking and strangling the lives of more than 40 million people, who can't even refinance it when interest rates drop. Something has to be done.

Here in Michigan, our politics are going to be paralyzed and largely controlled by despicable people unless and until we do something about gerrymandering and term limits.

That has left us with a state government controlled by the far right and special interests, no matter how the people vote.

You can see the results every day in our schools and our roads and the businesses that don't come and the kids who graduate and have to get the hell out of Michigan to find work.

News flash: Clinton can't fix this, and our lawmakers won't. We need state constitutional amendments to give us a chance to get control of our government again, and a coalition of people will have to come together, fight the established interests, and do the work.

That will be harder than electing someone — but infinitely more worth it. Whenever people talk of electing a politician to "save" them, I think of the last pages of Ray Bradbury's great science fiction classic, The Martian Chronicles.

In it, a family has fled an earth that is destroying itself, and has gone to Mars, where there was once a vast civilization.

The children beg to be shown martians, who they think will have the answer to everything, much as we once thought John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama did.

Their father promises, and eventually takes them to a canal, where they look at their own faces staring up at them.

They were the martians. They were the ones who would have to figure out the future. Nobody today is about to go to Mars, but Lansing is probably a much weirder place.

We are about to have an election that, if it went wrong, could seriously wreck this country and the world.

But assuming we survive, the hard reality is this:

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

A Republican worth working for

William Broman is probably not going to beat his Democratic rival for the legislature next week — but he should. He's a young (24) biomedical engineer who lives in Grosse Pointe Woods, and he had the cojones to challenge state Rep. Brian Banks.

Banks, who represents the 1st District over on the east side, is a Democrat, but he ought to be better known as a vile and disgusting criminal, who was elected four years ago despite having eight felony convictions. Since he arrived in office, he has cost the state an extra $85,622 because they had to pay a law firm, Dickinson Wright, to defend him after a male member of his staff charged he was sexually abused by Banks, and then fired when he wouldn't submit to his advances.

The lawsuit was settled out of court, but Banks has now been accused of three more felonies, and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wants him put away for life as a habitual offender. Whatever you think of that, this creature should certainly be put out of the legislature.

Give the Republicans this much: Their leadership denounced their two scuzzballs, Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, and worked to toss them out of the legislature.

But the Democratic leadership hasn't denounced Banks, any more than they did Virgil "shoot 'em up" Smith, before he actually went to jail. My guess is this is a sort of reverse racism, or a patronizing fear of angering black Detroiters.

I don't know Bill Broman, though I understand he has some interesting ideas on feeding the poor. I probably disagree with him on many issues — but so what?

Anyone living in his district should vote for him, and give him campaign money. And if by a miracle he makes it, we should pay for Brian Banks' old office to be fumigated.