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Governor Rick Snyder’s 2017 State of the State Address Highlights Separation Between National, State Politics

Photo Credit: Andrew Roth
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) delivers his 2017 State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

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“We will make America great again,” then presidential candidate Donald Trump bellowed to the applause of excited audience members at a rally in Grand Rapids.

“America never stopped being great,” his opponent Hillary Clinton would later retort during a campaign stop of her own in Warren.

This represented what many consider to be a flip of the two parties’ ideologies; usually, they say, Democrats are the party of change while Republicans argue that the country is already the greatest on Earth.

While there has been a shift in messaging, Kimberly Saks McManaway, a professor in the University of Michigan – Flint’s department of political sciences, says that it is only because of Donald Trump’s candidacy.

“Democrats usually focus on progress rather than conservatism—this necessarily means they look toward things that have not been tried yet. I think the message from Trump forced progressives (and Democrats generally) to defend what is good about America, which is a tough sell when your policy prescriptions are so fundamentally focused on what is not yet great about America,” said McManaway. “The difference is that Trump used the ‘again,’ thing both as a call to racial divisiveness and to working class white people who feel that they’ve been left behind (though they’ve really not been left behind as much as they may think and not at the hands of who they think did it).”

When asked whether or not this shift has translated to local politics at all, she said that she is still not sure that has trickled down to the state level in Michigan yet. “However, I think in the governor’s race in 2018 it will.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) withheld an endorsement during the 2016 election, opting instead to focus on issues within the state. During his 2017 State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 17, he indirectly highlighted the differences between state level and national politics.

“Michigan today is transformed from the Michigan of six years ago. We are successful and confident. We are proud. Six years ago we watched our family members, neighbors and coworkers leave for jobs in Chicago or California. To be honest, we weren’t very hopeful about our future and we suffered from a lot of negative perception,” the Governor said. “Now we draw positive attention from every state and many different countries. The world flies on airplanes built with parts from Whitehall. People all over the nation drink milk produced in Coopersville. The growing demand for craft beer is met by brewers from Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. Everyone wants more of what Michigan offers, so let’s keep going. Let’s keep building, and welcoming more residents to be part of our great state.”

Democrats, as expected, rebutted the Governor’s speech by explaining why the state government and its electorate should embrace their sweeping policy reforms.

“While corporations that send jobs overseas have received tax breaks, your schools, roads, and water systems have crumbled, and incomes have remained too low for working families to provide the same opportunities my parents provided me,” House Democratic Lead Sam Singh said. “Household incomes in Michigan still lag behind the national average and grow at half the average national pace, leaving Michigan families with less money to deal with bills that aren’t getting any cheaper.”

Michigan will vote to elect a new governor on November 6, 2018. Rick Snyder, the incumbent Republican governor is term-limited, and six candidates have already declared their candidacy to replace him. Several other notable figures in the Michigan political scene, such as Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), and Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley (R), are expected by members of their respective parties to run but have not yet taken the steps necessary to be considered a candidate.

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Governor Rick Snyder’s 2017 State of the State Address Highlights Separation Between National, State Politics