Gretchen Whitmer Gets Our Vote
“It’s not enough for the bird to have two wings. For if the wings were on the same side of its body, it would just flop around endlessly and never fly. The emphasis is not on the number of wings, but on their placement. They have to be positioned on opposite sides and against each other … Two sides pushing against each other is what gives the bird flight.”
—Rabbi Shmuley Boteach quoting Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe
We live in an era of political hyper-partisanship, daily witnesses to a zero-sum game of winners and losers. Heroes and villains. Champs and chumps. Being willing to listen to — let alone consider — a point of view other than your own attracts verbal abuse. Most Americans still believe that politics is the art of compromise to get stuff done for the greater good. But we have been marginalized by the extreme positions of the Republican Right and the Democratic Left. These positions are further magnified when one party controls all branches of government.
In Michigan, term-limited Republican Rick Snyder (who the JN endorsed in 2014 and 2010) is concluding eight years in the governor’s chair. Occasionally bucking his own party, which also controls the senate, house and supreme court, he sought Democratic collaboration on some key issues, including the Healthy Michigan (Medicaid expansion) and the “Grand Bargain” that helped Detroit emerge from bankruptcy. With an eye toward attracting and retaining top entrepreneurial talent and the jobs they would create for Michiganders, Snyder joined hands with Democrats and some Republicans to put out a “welcome mat” for immigrants.
Bottom line — the governor sets the example for collaboration and the tone for discourse in our state.
The recently released 2018 Detroit Jewish Community Population Study shows our community can play a significant role on Nov. 6 in deciding the outcome of the race for governor between Republican Bill Schuette and Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. Put simply, we vote. In fact, 96 percent of eligible Detroit Jewish community voters did so in the 2016 election. And, while 51 percent of Jewish Detroiters identify as Democrats and 15 percent as Republicans, 34 percent said they were political independents.
Schuette has a long record of public service, holding either elected or appointed positions for virtually his entire working career. He is well versed in the ways of Washington, D.C., and especially Lansing. He has friends in the White House and secured President Donald Trump’s endorsement. During his eight years as Michigan’s attorney general, Schuette leveraged the power of that office to retain his Republican base of support while adroitly taking legal action (think Flint water crisis) that could expand his appeal.
Schuette believes that his election will lead to a continuation of the policies and economic progress put into motion by Snyder and the legislature. But more needs to be done, he says, including growing our population, creating more jobs, reducing taxes, fixing the roads, improving the quality of our schools and reforming and improving — rather than eliminating — the Healthy Michigan law. Of special interest to the Jewish community, Schuette supports retention of the so-called “Multi-Cultural Line” in the state budget that currently provides approximately $4 million annually for Jewish Family Service, JARC, JVS, Kadima and Friendship Circle.
Whitmer also possesses a significant record of public service, elected to the state house and senate between 2001-2015. Her final four years were as the Democratic minority leader of the senate, where she was Snyder’s partner in securing bipartisan support for the passage of some of his initiatives.
Whitmer believes that her election will lead to a more comprehensive approach to fixing our state’s crumbling infrastructure, safeguarding the Healthy Michigan law, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, championing the extension of the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ individuals and returning Michigan to its legacy as a place where people’s paths to the middle class are restored. Whitmer also supports retention of the “Multi-Cultural Line” in the state budget.
Ultimately, getting stuff done for the greatest good — propelling the bird into flight, as Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi described — requires Republicans and Democrats to work collaboratively. Neither a Schuette nor Whitmer governorship will reach its full potential without it.
It is significant that Schuette has not received Snyder’s endorsement to succeed him. What Snyder appears to be saying is the “Michigan Comeback” he engineered — his legacy — is not safe in Schuette’s hands. Also significant is creation of Republicans & Independents for Whitmer, assembled by a group of respected “centrist” Republicans. Its founders include former Republican state senate leader and U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz and Mel Larsen, the former Republican senate leader, state party chair and co-author of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The group touts Whitmer’s authenticity and collaborative leadership style.
It is likely that Republicans will retain control of the state senate, house and supreme court. We believe that the election of Gretchen Whitmer provides Michigan with an opportunity to recraft a political culture of compromise for the greater good and believe she is the better choice for continuing and expanding Snyder’s “Michigan Comeback.” We endorse her candidacy.