Assault on democracy
Why aren't more protesting the shenanigans holding up a referendum on the emergency manager law?
Published: July 3, 2012
All this delay over a dispute about whether a petition's font size is off by 1/36th of an inch.
But we all know this isn't really about fonts. It is about power. This state's conservative forces will do just about anything they can to keep the emergency manager law in place.
It doesn't matter that more than enough valid signatures have been collected, or that the controversial law should have been suspended well before this point. What matters is control, democracy be damned.
Why doesn't this outrage more people?
That's the mystifying part.
Whether you agree with the emergency manager law isn't the issue at this point. What matters now is the democratic process, and the ability of a group of citizens to get a referendum on the ballot.
When the powers that be work to keep the citizenry from exercising constitutionally protected rights, we should all be up in arms.
During last week's protest, Melvin "Butch" Hollowell, attorney for the Detroit branch of the NAACP, connected some dots, pointing out how the fight to put the emergency manager referendum on the ballot is linked to voter suppression efforts under way in the state (see more about that issue in this week's cover stories, beginning on Page 16)
Just as the right-wingers are trying to keep the referendum off the ballot, they are also attempting to keep people away from the polls. Young people, seniors, minorities — all groups that tend to lean Democratic — will be disproportionately affected by the proposed changes in election law, including stepped-up photo ID requirements that have the potential to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.
Take a step back and look at what's going on.
First there is a law that takes away the authority of duly elected officials and places extraordinary power in the hands of emergency managers who are completely unaccountable to the people who their decisions directly affect.
When a group of citizens attempts to overturn that law, using the tools granted them by the state Constitution, they are stymied by a well-funded opposition and shameless partisan politics. While that's going on, those same right-wing forces are doing their best to keep people who don't agree with them away from the polls.
We hear a lot, especially around this Fourth of July holiday, about how special American democracy is.
What we find bewildering is that, when that democracy is under direct assault, only 100 people bother to show up and protest.
> Email Curt Guyette