Too bad political games couldn’t have been canceled too

Posted

The first legislator to openly support the governor’s “stay at home” message Monday wasn’t a Democrat.

It wasn’t just someone from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s opposing party. It was the leader of the Republican-led Senate. The governor hadn’t even finished the press conference and Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, cut a press release calling the move “necessary.”

By 3 p.m., Shirkey’s legislative counterpart, House Speaker Lee Chatfield, went a step further. He tweeted that Whitmer “is in the best & most informed position to determine what’s best for public health.”

“We’re all on the same team,” Chatfield added. “No time for politics.”

It’s a global pandemic, but at least the Democratic governor and Republican legislature are united on something. The protracted budgetary stalemate, rejected political appointees, all of it is being pushed to the backburner. Thank God.

Once Michigan gets enough testing kits to figure out who all has the coronavirus, the positive cases will skyrocket. The governor and everybody else is telling us all not to panic.

But, let’s face it, we’re all afraid, aren’t we?

The last thing we have the stomach for is a lot of politicking at a time like this.

Rising drug costs, our crappy roads, improving education, cleaning up toxic sites. All of these issues affect us. But for many of us — it’s at a manageable distance. None of these issues spark the all-consuming, life-changing exercise we’re all living in now.

What if I get COVID-19? Did I infect my older parents? Are they OK? My immune system is shot. What if I get it? What is the hospital going to look like? Will they be able to take care of me? Will there be enough respirators?

It’s all so new to us. The Chinese have lived through this before. South Korea planned for a pandemic.

We can all be critical of President Donald Trump’s initial reaction to the coronavirus. Initial polling showed his feelings weren’t atypical of most Americans. Priorities USA, a Democratic-leaning Super PAC, is putting $6 million of ads into Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin about what a lousy job he’s doing.

They do so at their own risk, at the risk of Joe Biden and the Democratic candidates they hope to support.

Trump was late to the game, but like him or not we need him right now. Wishing the president and/or Congress fails right now couldn’t be more self-defeating. What’s the point of cheering that an immediate Trump meltdown leads to a November loss if you’re not around to cast the ballot?

There will be a time for hard-driving messages that Trump “intentionally lied” about the coronavirus to “serve his own short-term political goals.” Now is not that time.

People are looking for leadership. They’re looking for action. They’re looking for comfort. Like FDR during the Great Depression. President Bush during the 9-11 attacks. Something that causes more angst when everyone is living with some anxiety isn’t going to be met well.

The congressional back-and-forth about the coronavirus response package proves the point. Congress’ inability to figure out how to spend two boatloads of more borrowed money hurts the public perception of both chambers, all members, a little more each day.

Nobody wants to hear the Republicans are packing the bill with corporate bailouts or Democrats turned the bill into a massive labor reform wish list. Pass a damn bill. Show leadership at a time when Americans need it. Desperately.

The programmed political gridlock today’s Congress has mastered has turned into a ludicrous exercise of self-defeating antics. How many more of their own members are being put at risk of contracting the very infection they are allegedly trying to stop?

Meanwhile, the crisis continues. Sparrow is basically begging for donated gloves, facemasks and other supplies to protect their staff from contraction.

In case you haven’t noticed, nobody is playing basketball games, hockey games or any other sporting event game right now. It’s a shame to see political games weren’t somehow wrapped into the same cancellation orders.

(Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS is at melinnky@gmail.com.)

City Pulse needs your support now more than ever. Advertising — almost all our revenue —  has fallen sharply because of closures due to the coronavirus. Our staff is working seven days a week to help keep you informed. Please do what you can at this time to contribute to the City Pulse Fund. All donations are tax-deductible. 

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Connect with us