“But isn’t it – but inspiring doesn’t – the difference is whether people get poisoned or not. Like I don’t – who cares if they’re inspiring? Like isn’t the – no, I’m serious.” – Chris L. Hayes
Flint, Michigan. Located 68 miles northwest of Detroit via I-75, the city was once home to a General Motors plant employing 80,000 people. The Auto City is now entering its fourth year of having poisoned water flow from the faucets of its residents’ homes. This catastrophe resulted from a 2010 state election which awarded Republican Richard Dale Snyder the governorship of Pure Michigan. His office assumed management of Flint in 2011. This administrative takeover led to a series of other decisions culminating into the April 2015 decision to switch the city’s water supply source. As the adage goes, elections have consequences.
Tangential Note: According to Michigan’s Secretary of State General Election Voter Registration and Turnout Statistics – 7,620,000 Michiganders were of voting age in 2010. The federal midterm and state elections transpired that year – elections which is notorious for low turnout among Democratic leaning voters. Of voting age Michiganites, 7,276,237 or 95% were counted as registered voters. Pretty impressive, I must say. Of registered voters, only 3,268,217 or 44.9% voted during that election year. How was this election consequential? Most devastatingly, Flint residents wound up poisoned by their drinking water. Harsh? Not as harsh as the skin rashes and memory loss experienced by children living in the city.
A CNN article states Flint loss control of its own governance to emergency managers sent from Lansing because of an audit revealing the city’s $25M budgetary shortfall. The emergency managers decided to switch Flint’s water supply from Detroit to the Flint River – a move endorsed by Flint city council members. Beforehand, Flint purchased water from Detroit which obtained its drinking water from Lake Huron. Becoming fed-up with what Flint thinks is price gouging by America Comeback City price, the Genesee County city decided to lay its own pipes and siphon water from Lake Huron itself – an endeavor with a 30-month timeline. In the meantime, Flint needed an alternative supply of water for a fairer price than Detroit offered – the Flint River.
Why am I writing a blog about Flint, poisoned water, Chris L. Hayes, and inspiration?
A recent All in with Chris Hayes show featuring Michael Moore — a current resident and native of Flint — shared the Flint River is too polluted to serve as the water supply for any city for any reason for any amount of time. Moore went on to say after Flint’s water supply was switched, the governor ordered a state official to assess the quality of the Flint River. Just to be clear, Governor Snyder sent an analyst to assess the river after Flint’s water contamination began to gain national attention. Returning to Lansing with alarmingly grave metrics pointing to the deadly quality of the water pulled from the Flint River, Snyder’s office ignored the official’s recommendation to cease draws. Other sources state Flint’s city council members voted to reverse course – letting bygones be bygones regarding their hard feelings toward Detroit – deciding to return to Motown’s spigot. They were overruled by an emergency manager appointed by the governor’s office. Again, elections have consequences.
Moore says even if we go with the we didn’t know how terrible the Flint River’s water was defense, as a reason the state emergency managers followed the city council’s recommendation in the beginning of it all, it holds little value now. Once Snyder’s office was notified of the Flint River’s corrosive nature, the governor’s deputies’ deputy refusal to immediately switch the water back to Detroit makes them culpable. The governor’s office was informed by one of their own officials of the water crisis. Flint residents’ complaints never stopped after it was announced the Flint River would become their water source. Once they got wind of the poisonings, the city council voted to return to the Motor City for water. None of this matter to the governor’s office emergency managers. Unnecessarily rigid financial arguments had the last word – temporarily.
Lack of Inspiration
An obscene notion a couple of Hayes’ guests asserted as the reason they decided not to vote in the November 2016 presidential election prompted my composing this blog. Lack of inspiration as grounds for not voting is foul. The two Michiganders are hardly alone. They are surely not isolated to the Great Lakes State. They are not only members of one race. They are found across all socioeconomic strata. They are not solely those among us who don’t follow politics like that, come from a good family, or are really passionate about our country. They are 100% likely to be found in my family as well.
The Michiganites I referenced were two individuals – a young man and woman – from the sound of their voices aged between 20 and 30. They spoke of not feeling inspired by neither former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton nor the current occupant of the White House Donald John Trump. Even less settling is a statistic Michael Moore hurled into my ears of 87,000 registered voters in the Wolverine State who largely selected Democratic candidates down the ballot in 2016 yet left the presidential box blank. None of these uninspired voters bothered selecting Clinton or Trump for President. I find this reprehensible.
Later, Hayes asked the uninspired non-voting male guest if he would cast a ballot in the upcoming midterm elections given he did not participate in the 2016 cycle. Hayes predicated his question on Flint entering its fourth year of deadly water flowing through its residents’ pipes, scores of children having been poisoned and permanently harmed by chemicals leeched from the pipes as a result of untreated, corrosive Flint River water, and public health officials providing services in the Birthplace of General Motors instructed to lie about children’s lead blood content levels. This local level assessment of current affairs does not even consider the catastrophe led by the 45th Commander in Chief inside the Beltway.
The unimaginative non-voting Midwesterner responded to Hayes’ very fair question with only if the candidate is inspiring. In response, Hayes’ tone – and what I would imagine body language oozing annoyance and perplexed facial expressions – seethed in response to this stupendously naïve answer. Hayes is so taken aback he stumbles in responding, “But isn’t it – but inspiring doesn’t – the difference is whether people get poisoned or not. Like I don’t – who cares if they’re inspiring? Like isn’t the – no, I’m serious.”
The idiotic Michiganian can be heard repeating under Hayes’ flabbergasted response and the crowd’s audible disapproval, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Yes, idiotic is my preferred adjective over misinformed, misguided, uniformed, or similarly soft words. There is nothing soft about the consequences resulting from the idiocy and stupidityof people like them voting for reasons as shallow as warm and fuzzy feelings or not voting at all given a lack of them. “I’m sorry?” Are he and so many millions of other non-voters than damn dense? No need in being sorry. Go vote for candidates who will not choose or otherwise be indifferent to others choosing to poison a city to save a damn dollar! This is not that hard.
The Power of Voting
I find it offensive that any person chooses not to vote for any reason. This includes black people who have been convinced for some odd reason their votes do not count. If this were the case, why is the GOP working so hard to take it away from us? Yes, there is a major political party angling to disenfranchise millions of fellow Americans who increasingly are finding their policies and ideology egregious as well of those who clearly, physically manifest they are not entirely of eastern and northern European descent. With that, we still can vote despite the idiotic measures federal, state, and local governments controlled by the Grand Old Party enact. Why such heavy language? My grandparents, parents, and their older siblings were alive prior to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, living in segregated and hellish Alabama and slightly less murderous Georgia. They had more daunting reasons to feel uninspired to vote – lynching, murder, cross burnings, church bombings, economic devastation as retaliation for trying to vote, among other acts of domestic terrorism. Yet, millions of Africans Americans continued going to the polls knowing they just may have met the Grim Reaper there.
“We disempower ourselves all the time. You can’t tell me that all those folks who don’t vote are doing so because somebody’s turned them away or somebody’s intimidated them, no. It’s because they decided they had something better to do. The notion that somehow voter suppression is keeping you from voting, as systematic as Republicans have tried to make voting more difficult for minorities, for Democrats, for young people, the truth of the matter is, if you actually wanted to vote, then you can vote.” – Former President Barack Obama Comments in 2015 on Voting
Reading Us Bedtime Stories – A Political Platform?
If the non-voting Michiganders want inspiration; read a book. Take a cooking class. Visit a museum. Watch a documentary. Look at the children separated from their families seeking refuge from murderous turmoil in their native land by our federal government. Go to Flint and turn on a faucet in any given home. Drive around the Midwest and gaze at shuttered factories. Watch video clips of President Donald John Trump cowering in Helsinki next to Vlad. Travel to Northwest Indiana and take a deep breath of the foul air in Gary. Google inspirational quotes. Get a grip – this is not that hard. It is not the job of politicians to make us feel loved and all warm a fuzzy on the inside – to read us a bedtime story, tuck us in, and shut off the lamp. This is why we have free will, friends, and family. Geez.
Sure, politicians should have a vision and the ability to gain and hold people’s attention. This is as far as the likability and inspirational factors should reach. As Oprah said about Hillary Rodham Clinton, “She’s not coming over to your house! You don’t have to like her.” The job of a politician is to run a business for us – our local, state, and federal governments. Do you think boards of directors for companies around this country like all of the people they put in charge of running the businesses they oversee? Some of them would rather swallow hot coals than sit for 10 minutes alone with any of the C-suite personnel they govern. As long as the C-suite people can do their jobs, increase the organization’s earnings, goodwill, public image, and industry dominance – all things boards of directors typically hold in high regard – whether or not they like them or feel inspired by them is besides the point. Do we like everyone at our job? If we were to answer honestly, the answer is a resounding no.
Voting > Feeling Uninspired
For the two Michiganders and other uninspired people across this land – grow up. Vote. Select Democrats down the ballot. And for crying out loud, do away with the ridiculous notion of the Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans. The Democrats are not perfect – neither are the people who think they are just as bad as the Republicans. Yet, the party has far more durable scruples than the former Party of Lincoln. If you were to do an honest assessment in comparing the two parties, you would find such false equivalency gag-inducing.
I am committed to a person who loves me for who I am. He and I have two dogs. Cascadia is home for us. I know for sure no one makes it alone; bootstrapping is a cliched dog whistle. I surround myself with truth tellers. I am healthy and grateful for what I have (on most days). I wholeheartedly believe reading gives us super powers. Vote. Exercise. Eat Healthily. Sleep Soundly.