Throw The Bums Out

By Amy Hunter


Two years ago this November, the American electorate performed a well practiced act of self-immolation. They stayed home from the polls, and even worse, voted against our collective interest by simply voting those in office, out, and putting in "the new guy". In far too many cases, the new guys weren't really a solution to what we perceived to be the problem; they were in fact, much worse.

In 2010, numerous states suffered from this tendency to vote without clear motivation. The unfortunate consequence of this "throw the bums out" mentality rapidly became far-ranging. The new guys, it seems, weren't truly what had been bargained for. Within days of taking office, state legislatures from Wisconsin to Florida took up extreme measures and began rolling out radical-right social agendas which looked much more like 1950 than 2010.

With few exceptions, no state evidenced this willful regression better than Michigan. Here, into office, voters swept new-right majorities to the State Senate and House, and all of the critical statewide offices including Governor. The subsequent waves of restrictive policy and social legislation were horrors almost too difficult to bear. Bill after bill came to the house and senate floor attacking long given precepts of Michigan's social structure and not least, making our proud state a case history of how democracy can be obviated by a determined, well funded majority.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes; we really DO need to throw the bums out. Sometimes, we really do NEED a referendum about who governs and how our interests are represented. This year is indeed, is one of those times. But - before we can do that responsibly, it's worth taking a look at what we have allowed to become our advocacy and electoral modus operandi.

No matter who gets my vote, did I take a critical view of what that vote means beforehand? Will I be casting my vote for change? Ideology? Status quo? Am I prepared to back-up my choice with action? Am I willing to participate in our representative democracy beyond exercising my franchise to vote?

It is clear that we have become reliant on others to do most of the heavy lifting for us. We haven't envisioned a social and political climate in which we all participate. We looked at our nation, our state and our interest groups and decided that they weren't measuring up to our unrealistic notions about what our leadership is able to accomplish without popular support and more importantly, participatory accountability. So, 2010 became a "change" election fueled by unwarranted disillusionment, disappointment, dissatisfaction and a false sense of disenfranchisement - all manner of "dis" words that describe nothing more profound than self-absorption.

There is a lesson from the 2010 election that can be put to practical use before Nov. 6 - it isn't too late.

We can and should fix the state of progressive politics in Michigan and by doing so, turn Michigan around. The effort will require that we all pull together on principled action - participation in the very system we love to blame. Our course we mustn't merely seek an ideology we can agree with or that seems to fit what we believe - no matter how attractive that may be. Rather, we can and should agree on some basic principles about what comprises individual responsibilities as citizens in a republic and what those entail.

If we want our leaders to lead effectively in the environs to which we elevate them, then we cannot hold them accountable simply by voicing our dissatisfaction when they fail our standards of performance. We cannot simply tell them where we want them to be, and what we expect them to accomplish on their own. Certainly, we must hold our leaders accountable, but not by firing them every two, or four, or six years, without having first made well considered choices, showing them first; what we expect and then supporting their candidacy and their efforts on our behalf.

Michigan has some of the finest, most dedicated folks working in advocacy, policy and progressive politics I have ever been favored to meet. They have taken on the mantle of leadership in what is demonstrably one of the hardest states in the nation in which to be practicing progressivism. They need our help. They need our ideas and they need our willingness to participate in democracy above the level of self-interest.

Five easy things you can do:

* Find out who the candidates are in your area and check them out. Do they measure-up? If they haven't been endorsed by the major players in lgbt and progressive politics across the state, find out why. (HINT: there is a nifty VOTER GUIDE published by BTL) go to

* Go to a candidate forum and ASK well thought out pointed questions of these folks. (This is the beginning of accountability.)

* Volunteer for a campaign. They need you. It isn't hard to make phone calls, knock on doors, or stuff envelopes. (They won't take you hostage, I promise.)

* Contribute whatever you can in financial resources. You can give directly to a candidate or, to an entity like a lgbt or progressive PAC which endorses and supports candidates who represent the interests of our community. (I never met a campaign that would turn down a contribution because it's too small)

* Be critical about your vote. Is this really the right person for the job? Will they be a leader for what I believe we need in Michigan?

After all the votes are counted on Nov. 6, after the victory party decorations and the yard signs are taken down, the hard work truly begins. Get on your winning candidates mailing lists and follow what they're doing over in Lansing or down at the County Seat or up in the State Supreme Court. Give them your support along with your opinion. If you give it in the best interests of everyone in our state, I can guarantee - they'll listen.

MI Marriage Trial

Michigan Same Sex Couples Demand Respect And Equal Treatment

Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

MI Marriage: Schuette Asks For Full Appeals Court Review

The Stay Delayed Allows 315 Couples To Wed In State

Gay Marriage Defines Schuette's Reelection Campaign

Snyder Says Schuette Going Against Trend

Sixth Circuit Continues Stay

Michigan Marriage Ban Struck Down

Michigan Makes History With First Marriages

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Aappeal

Pictures from Ingham County - Getting Married

Pictures from Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 1

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's office - Part 2

Pictures from the Oakland County Clerk's Office - Part 3

Pictures from Washtenaw County

White Nationalist Group Files Brief Supporting AG's Appeal In Marriage Ruling

Discredited Witness Part Of Right-Wing Cabal

Schauer Celebrates Overturn Of Michigan Marriage Ban

Equality Michigan Circulating Petition to Drop Appeal

Why Are Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette Wasting Michigan Taxpayer Dollars On A Costly Appeal?

Michigan Marriage Ban Co-Author Goes 'Moral'

BTL's Wedding Expo: Like Pride in April

Snyder Says Marriages Invalid

Elected Officials, Advocates Petition Schuette To Drop Marriage Appeal

Request To Remove Stay Based On Process And Substance

Schuette Lies To Satisfy Political Base

DOCUMENTS: The decision, the stay, and more

BREAKING: Holder Asked To Recognize Michigan Marriages

Michigan Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court Of Appeals Issues Temporary Stay On Michigan Case

BREAKING: Same-Sex Couples Across Michigan Get Hitched

BREAKING: Judge Friedman Declares Michigan's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Judge Could Rule Late Today In Mich. Marriage Ban

Michigan Marriage Trial: And Now We Wait

Editor's Viewpoint: Our Long Journey To Justice

Federal Marriage Case Decisions Outside Michigan In Circuit Court of Appeals

Peers Distance Themselves As Regnerus Takes The Stand

Marriage Supporters, Protestors Brave Cold At Courthouse

Highlights From Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Hearing

Brown Says Schuette Instructed Clerks To Defy Court

Michigan Marriage Equality Trial Begins Second Week

Marriage Equality Trial Opens : Science v. Fear

Michigan Marriage Center Prepares State For The Possibility!

Michigan Marriage Case Begins

A Trial Full of Experts: Incredible and Not So Credible, In Hazel Park Case

like us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on google+