Sometime between the end of the Republican primary in August 2010 and Labor Day a few weeks later, I sat down with then-candidate Rick Snyder, who was running for governor of Michigan. A mutual friend suggested we meet.
Snyder spoke about priorities hardworking Michiganders care about. Creating jobs, keeping taxes low, reducing the size of government. We discussed the endorsement of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, a more than 14,000-member union with more Republicans and independents in our ranks than Democrats.
During our lunch in downtown Detroit, Snyder emphasized he wasn’t a partisan politician. He looked me in the eye and said if he were elected governor, he would do everything in his power to keep so-called “right to work” proposals off his desk. With his promise, our union endorsed Snyder for governor.
In the same discussion, we promised to stand with Snyder. That included when he announced some of his most ambitious plans as governor: new development projects and a Detroit-Windsor crossing.
We kept our word to Snyder.
In December 2012, Snyder broke his to us.
The same man who promised not to take up right to work and who testified before Congress in February 2012 that right to work was “a very divisive issue” lied when he made Michigan a right to work state.
As his party’s standard-bearer, Gov. Snyder’s fraud about right to work is symptomatic of a larger problem that plagues Republicans, who control all branches of Michigan’s government: They can no longer be trusted about anything because the Republican Party in Michigan can’t even keep its most basic promises.
The party that keeps promising lower taxes is raising taxes on retirees, slapping a new health care tax on ordinary citizens and jacking up the overall tax burden of families who are already struggling to make ends meet. As if that’s not enough, Snyder now wants people who drive to pay more, hiding what really is another tax behind the euphemism, “user fee.”
The party that denounces government intrusions is itself intruding into local communities, removing elected officials, installing handpicked outside bureaucrats and reversing voters’ rights. The party that loudly vows to make government smaller is now plotting to hijack Michigan’s Electoral College system and change the rules because it doesn’t like the results of the 2012 elections.
The party that claims to cherish freedom only throws around the words “freedom” and “choice” when they can no longer sell their ideas to the public – from reducing workers’ voices at the workplace and calling that “choice,” to letting unscrupulous companies cut corners and calling that “freedom.”
Snyder and Republicans are playing word games because they know their brand is a pale shadow of what their party once was.
Snyder and the modern Republican Party in Michigan have betrayed the principles many of our union members who support true common-sense conservative ideals embrace. Snyder’s lies and deceptions make it worse. And since his double-cross on right to work, Snyder’s polling numbers have plunged, his approval down by 20-plus points, for good reason.
People see through Snyder and the Republicans and realize they will cheat to win. Snyder tries to sell his gas tax as a “user fee,” claiming it affects only people who use Michigan roads. Yet his right to work laws let people avoid paying the “user fee” of union dues while benefiting from the union process. That’s unfair and people know it.
Head-spinning hypocrisy like this is not doing the Republican brand any favors. And Michigan voters are realizing Snyder and his Republican colleagues are not done hoodwinking Michigan families.