Around 300 teachers, union workers and concerned citizens braved a chilly breeze in Cadillac this morning to “welcome” Governor Rick Snyder to the annual Chamber of Commerce Governor’s breakfast at the Wexford County Civic Center in Cadillac. Most carried signs and a motivated group chanted outside the gates and fences that surround the venue, expressing their collective frustration at the ongoing assault on workers and democracy orchestrated by Snyder’s administration in Lansing. Many signs were sharply critical of Gov. Snyder and the Emergency Financial Manager law, which has recently undergone an overhaul pushed through the state legislature by Snyder and his corporate supporters.
Also present were a scattered non-teacher organized labor contingent, including representatives from the Sheetmetal Workers International Association, United Auto Workers, and what appeared to be United Association of Pipefitters. I joined the protest myself as (I presume) the only local member of the Industrial Workers of the World.
My initial impressions were positive, as I am always heartened by displays of resistance to neoliberal capitalism, though I doubt many in the crowd saw their actions in this light. This provokes a question; how many of these protesters would’ve taken this action if a Democratic governor had put the current policies in place? While the crowd chanted “banks got bailed out we got sold out,” there were no signs denouncing capitalism generally, nor were there any signs against president Obama or the Democratic Party. Most anti-GOP signs were directed at Governor Snyder personally.
It is my belief that this demonstrates what is a fundamental handicap affecting most American’s political awareness, namely a (mostly) subconscious predisposition toward partisanship, highlighted generally by a subjective view of particular policies depending on agency, rather than the merits of the policy itself. Thus what is unacceptable under GOP officials like Rick Snyder, is either ignored or endorsed, paradoxically, when implemented by a member of one’s “team,” i.e. President Obama. There is no doubt, if one looks critically at the policies of both, that Snyder and Obama have the same fealty towards Wall Street and it’s core values and interests. You would, however, be hard pressed to explain that to many of the protesters this morning or to Democrats generally.
Though any sign of dissent and resistance is encouraging, I’m quite confident that much more education and agitation on core issues and the operation of the current imperial capitalist system will be required before a general class consciousness is re-awakened in America, at least among the tattered remnants of what was once the liberal class. It is my hope that along with that, we as radicals can also restore hope and militancy to liberals and other disenfranchised people, and build the global network of solidarity needed to finally smash capitalism once and for all.
Thanks to all who participated today, and thanks to my daughter and son who made up a great sign for me to take out there this morning.