"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it — good and hard."
—Henry Louis Mencken
Well, the results are in — and we are indeed in for it.
By the way, though the mainstream media has been crowing nonstop about Gov. Rick Snyder's triumphant victory, you may never have seen the actual final numbers.
Well, now you are about to. Let me warn you, despite what you may have heard or read, the vast majority of our state's voters did not, in fact, choose Snyder.
They just chose not to show up.
Here are the near-final election results:
Rick Snyder (R) 1,605,034
Mark Schauer (D) 1,476,904
Other candidates: 69,987
Didn't give enough of a shit to vote: 4,181,505
Now that's what I call a landslide!
Clear evidence that our citizens have voted overwhelmingly in favor of tuning in and dropping out. Ladies and gentlemen, our way of life is being snatched away in front of our very eyes, and we don't even seem to care.
A stunning 56.2 percent of us couldn't even be bothered to show up to vote. A very slight majority of those who did (50.9 percent) opted for the status quo.
So we re-elected the governor who betrayed his promise on right-to-work, cut spending for education, taxed pensions, and tried to slash benefits for those severely wounded in catastrophic car accidents.
What the hell?
When the returns were in, I talked to Frank Kelley, who served as Michigan's attorney general from 1961 to 1999, longer than anyone in any state in history.
Kelley, who is almost 90, grew up on the mean streets of Detroit when anything resembling a social safety net didn't exist. While in office, he established the first consumer protection department in the nation.
They called him a commie for that. He also crusaded for the environment and fought for civil rights. The people got it; they elected him 10 times.
What did he think happened?
"Well, P.T. Barnum had it about right," he said glumly. "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."
Some laid the blame at the feet of Mark Schauer, a one-term congressman who was, sadly, the only Democrat with any kind of credentials who even wanted the job.
True enough, he was not a great inspirational or charismatic leader. The "progressive" Detroit Free Press, which has suddenly morphed into Ricky Snyder's cheerleading squad, harshly beat up on Schauer:
"The former congressman was never able to say how he would make his plans a reality — specifically, how he would pay for them." The newspaper called this "an arrogant insult to voters." Then, in a stream of technicolor bullshit that actually made me laugh out loud, the Freep wrote, "Voters chose Snyder — and by a wide margin ... for Snyder, it's close to a mandate."
Huh? The popular margin was the closest in any race for governor since 1990. Snyder is the first governor in more than half a century to get fewer votes in his second election than in his first — a lot less.
Snyder got nearly 270,000 fewer votes this time than he did four years ago. Schauer got nearly 200,000 more than the hapless Democratic nominee last time.
True, Schauer didn't explain how he would get the money to pay for things. I repeatedly criticized him for failing to present a realistic plan to fix the state's roads.
But let's be real. Did Snyder announce when he was running that he was going to cut aid to education and slash pensions in order to give business a big tax cut?
Did he say he was going to help make this a right-to-work state? Did he say he was going to cut the Earned Income Tax Credit and all but kill the film subsidy?
You know the answer. He did none of that.
Evidently not being forthcoming is only a sin when Democrats do it. The tragedy was, indeed, that Schauer and the Democrats failed to convince enough voters that tossing out Snyder was worth standing in line.
Along with re-electing the slightly shopworn, slightly less tough nerd, voters gave us a much worse legislature.
Now, they'll reap the whirlwind. Make no mistake about it: Snyder will be worse, not better, in his second term. If anything decent gets accomplished — like finding the money to fix the roads — it will have to happen now, in a lame-duck session before the new crop takes over.
For next January, Republicans have elected a nasty little man named Arlan Meekhof to be their Senate Majority Leader. Uneducated behind high school, yet cunning, he's the one who jammed through the "dark money" bill that allows special interests to make huge anonymous campaign donations.
Recently, when WXYZ investigative reporter Ross Jones tried to ask Meekhof about this, he called security and had armed men throw Jones and a photographer out.
Later, perhaps worried about bad press, Meekhof did tell the reporter the secret money was only designed to educate voters, not to influence them.
Nothing like a major bald-faced lie. Here's the truth about the next Snyder administration:
The governor will accomplish little — unless vain attempts to placate the far right count. The Republicans will be more unwilling than ever to compromise. Three of the most strident Tea Party crazies will be in the House, and vow to drive their fellows even further to the right.
When the legislative results were in, Mark Dobias, a witty lawyer in Sault Ste. Marie, wrote me to say "when these guys and gals get done, the bones of the FMC (Former Middle Class) will be bleaching like German bones in the fields outside Stalingrad."
He thinks there won't be any middle class as we have known it, by 2040. What I don't know is why he thinks destroying it will take that long.
Same-sex marriage setback?
There was much outrage and gloom last week, when the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.
But in a way, this is actually good news. Here's why:
Last March, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state's ban, saying it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Other judges like him have struck similar bans down in state after state.
Until now, all their rulings have been upheld in federal appeals courts. But this time, it was different. Three judges split 2-1 in upholding Michigan's same-sex marriage ban.
You will certainly be terribly shocked (not) to learn that the two judges were both Republicans; the one dissenting justice was appointed by a Democrat. Significantly, the majority did not say gay marriage was necessarily illegal. The two judges said it should be up to the states to decide.
Why then is this good, presuming you support marriage equality? Because we now have two diametrically opposed sets of opinions from two different sets of federal appeals courts. This virtually assures that the U.S. Supreme Court will take this case, sooner rather than later.
What they will do then is anyone's guess, but it's pretty clear there are only two real options: Either they agree with Judge Friedman that adults can marry whomever they want to — or they say this is a question left up to the states.
Logically, this should be a federal issue, as was a woman's right to choose. But even if they rule that it's up to the states, then those who support marriage equality will finally know just what they need to do: Start organizing to overturn Michigan's hopelessly backward marriage amendment.