You may have heard about Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s moves to supersede the authority of local governing bodies. Public Act 4, passed this year, gives the state the ability to replace and even dissolve local governing bodies during times of fiscal emergency. It has already been implemented in the city of Benton Harbor, where emergency financial manager (EFM) Joseph Harris has suspended the decision-making authority of city council members, and in the cities of Pontiac and Flint–as well in as the Detroit Public School system, where EFM Roy Rogers has used his state-given authority to modify union contracts for district employees.
Rachel Maddow explains the problems with this law beautifully:
Three things about Public Act 4 and Rick Snyder:
- In the Maddow clip above, writer Naomi Klein says that the “well-kept secret” about political protests is that “when people do fight, they sometimes win…[e]specially if you’re willing to do more than just go to a march once.” Michiganders need to fight to either recall Snyder or make extra sure he’s a one-term governor.
- We cannot let the right wing use the current national debt crisis to push through an anti-democratic political agenda. And even as this crisis gets resolved, we cannot let the right wing trick us into agreeing that when the sky is falling, any sort of protection will do.
- However: Some people are getting a little fast and loose with terms like “fascism” and “dictatorship.”
While it’s clear to most that Snyder has violated the public trust in his office and trampled on the rights of Michigan’s citizens, he’s not quite a dictator. Here are some dictators for you; typically, they trample on rights through use of force, imprisonment, and terror; and the thing about dictators is that they quite often change laws to ensure their continued reign of power. In Michigan, people are organizing a petition to recall Snyder; if they are successful, a special election will be held during which the people will have a chance to decide whether they want him to go away. Certainly, corporate and right-wing interests will send their lackeys to the polls in force; it is up to the clearer heads to rally the rest of the citizenry into making their opinion count.
As reporter Samantha Power explains, “fascism — unlike Communism, socialism, capitalism or conservatism — is a smear word more often used to brand one’s foes than it is a descriptor used to shed light on them.” In fact, fascism is a political ideology that originated with Benito Mussolini; he explains the ideology in his 1932 Fascist Doctrine. Public Act 4 is certainly in line with at least some of the tenets of Mussolini’s fascism, most notably in his description of the Fascist State as
not reactionary but revolutionary, for it anticipates the solution of certain universal problems which have been raised elsewhere, in the political field by the splitting up of parties, the usurpation of power by parliaments, the irresponsibility of assemblies; in the economic field by the increasingly numerous and important functions discharged by trade unions and trade associations with their disputes and ententes, affecting both capital and labor; in the ethical field by the need felt for order, discipline, obedience to the moral dictates of patriotism.
But let’s reserve fascist for the people who are willing to embrace violence, institutionalize oppression, and wage war to stop others from pursuing alternate political agendas. Ok?
In the meantime, Michigan, I’ll be waiting for you to take care of business. I’ll be waiting for you to successfully recall or reject Rick Snyder at the polls.