LeDuff: Democrats must sway Michigan workers who don't get much bang for their buck

March 05, 2020, 11:22 PM by  Charlie LeDuff

If the current crop of presidential candidates reminds us of anything, it's that when the chips are down, Americans (usually) turn to rich, old white men.

For all the talk of Black Lives Matter and #MeToo and the white working class, we're left in this political cycle with 73-year-old Dirty Donald Trump ($3 billion), 77-year-old Sleepy Joe Biden ($9 million) and 78-year-old Bolshevik Bernie Sanders ($2 million).

And with the Bernie v. Joe Show making its way to Michigan, I remind them and the media that there aren't enough Benjamins in our wallets.

This is about money. It's always about money.


In a state where nearly every major political chair is held by a Democrat, working people aren't getting much bang for their buck. Without addressing this, the anybody-but-Trump drumbeat may not be enough to turn Michigan from red to blue.

A working-class battle line

In Detroit, the mayor is a Democrat. The candidates should know that the firefighters this month begin contract negotiations with the city, and the mayor is planning to strip away promotion by seniority, a 160-year old practice. There's a working class war brewing there, considering everything the first responders gave to the city in bankruptcy.

To win Michigan, Democrats need to win Detroit. They should know City Hall was shut last week by protesting homeowners incensed that they were illegally overtaxed from 2010-16. The residents here already pay some of America's highest property taxes.

Mayor Mike Duggan pretends it didn't happen under him, but it did. He says there's no money to pay people back. Nobody is buying it since billions of dollars of public money and tax abatements have been handed over to billionaires. He's not a popular character around here.

(Graphic: Twitter/@didikins4life)

Factory jobs -- that's a talking point. So where is the UAW leadership in all this? In federal corruption court for ripping off their own membership, that's where. It used to be a Democrat could not win the White House without the endorsement of the UAW. Now it appears you can't win with it. Best to steer clear.

No good news for Flint

And what about Flint? The statute of limitations on the mass poisoning kicks in in just 50 days. To date, not a single dollar has been paid, and not a single person has spent a single day in jail. I contacted the attorney general (a Democrat). A spokesperson said there are no updates. Imagine that?

Probably good to talk about Flint if you want to win Michigan. Even if you plan to do nothing, it makes people think you care.

Schools are terrible across the state. Kids aren't learning. That should be a federal issue, since millions of federal dollars pour in. The roads are the worst. Also federal money and a federal issue. The power grid – operated by a publicly traded company -- is also among the worst in America. That should be a national issue, too. Just ask California. That's what we talk about in Michigan, anyway.

Water? You know about Flint. And in Detroit, people can't afford it and so we continue to turn off their taps. Yet Nestle, an international conglomerate, is allowed to siphon a million gallons of ground water a day. And what does Nestle pay the people for the privilege? $200 a year. How is that not a federal issue?

Our politicians are not tough enough or smart enough to stick up for us, here, in Michigan. It's like the kids have stolen the keys and crashed the car.

So tell us, Grandpa. What can you do about it?

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