A few weeks ago, I wrote a column entreating Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to stand up to Donald Trump, given his status as a businessman-turned-Rust Belt governor who preaches the virtues of civility.
While Democrats and liberal activists can be expected to do the heavy lifting when it comes to opposing the authoritarian elements of Trump's presidency, it's vital to have as many conservative and Republican voices as possible join in. For starters, this supersedes ideology. And historically, bipartisan movements are taken more seriously by the public and the media.
Here's part of my argument:
You may not have liked what President Hillary Clinton may have wrought in terms of taxes and regulation, but I believe you stay up at night wondering what President Trump will do with the nuclear codes.Warning signs abound. The president-elect’s chief White House adviser is Steve Bannon, who runs the white nationalist website, Breitbart.com (which is primed to become some sort of state-run media a la Pravda). Trump refuses to set up a blind trust for his far-reaching business interests, instead saying he’ll turn them over to his children (who may have access to state secrets). And he’s playing footsie with Vladimir Putin on the national stage already.None of these are partisan issues. These are all red flags about how our republic will function.
I got some pushback from readers for my alleged naiveté, mostly coming from those unfamiliar with my frequent criticism of Snyder over the Flint water crisis, Right to Work, child poverty, LGBT rights and much more. And no, I didn't believe my column would have any impact, as I indicated in the column itself:
Of course, I’m not the right person to ask this of you. It should be the Detroit News’ Nolan Finley or better yet, a Republican colleague. I’ve been one of your fiercest critics over Right to Work and the Flint Water crisis. I’m probably about as popular in your inner circle as I was with that of your predecessor, Jennifer Granholm.
And even if you were to vocally oppose Trump, I wouldn’t stop holding your feet to the fire over your policies in Michigan. Neither will my colleagues. It doesn’t work that way. So this is all probably sounding like a terrific proposition for you.
I doubt the governor reads me or cares what I think. But it was worth a shot. And sometimes it's important to put things on the record.
So last week, Snyder did exactly what you'd expect, declaring that he looks "forward to building a relationship" with Trump. That's quite the change from his October take, when he called Trump's "grab 'em by the pussy" remarks "revolting and disgusting." Time heals all wounds, I guess.
The governor even went so far as to defend Trump in a tweet Monday against the Green Party's attempt to get a recount in Michigan.
So Rick Snyder is who he's always been: A Republican who feigns moderation, but has repeatedly proven to be unwilling or unable to stand up to the extremist elements of his party.
I'm not surprised. I just remain very, very disappointed.
Susan J. Demas is Publisher and Editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a nationally acclaimed, biweekly political newsletter. Her political columns can be found at SusanJDemas.com. Follow her on Twitter here.