Just about every poll I have seen in recent years has shown massive levels — upwards of 80 percent — of distrust in government be it local, state or federal.
The recent controversy involving Speaker of the House Jase Bolger’s role in the circumstances that resulted in legislator Roy Schmidt defecting the Democratic Party just before the filing deadline for candidates is a perfect example of what’s wrong in today’s body politic.
I’m a Republican who has given money and worked on the ground to elect a Republican majority in the lower house of the Legislature. I know the speaker and have long considered him a strong leader, who has championed real reform over the past two years.
Therefore, unlike chief Democratic bombardier Mark Brewer my criticism isn’t partisan. Rather my disappointment is rooted in something higher: my ethos.
The prosecuting attorney of Kent County, a Republican, in conjunction with the State Police, found that though Bolger and Schmidt didn’t violate the law, they tried to “perpetrate a fraud” against the people of Michigan in hopes of guaranteeing the outcome of this year’s election in Schmidt’s Grand Rapids-based constituency.
The prosecutor’s eight-page report, issued July 17, is shocking in two respects.
First, it affirms popular stereotypes that politics is messy and the maneuvering that occurs in the halls of government is best kept out of the public scrutiny. This fuels distrust in government — something that is fundamentally unhealthy in our small-“r” republican form of government, which is centered on a civically involved and engaged electorate.
Second and, more importantly, at least to the folks who are willing to do whatever it takes to win, this is a distraction for Republicans seeking to keep majority. House Democrats will now use this, along with earlier attacks on the GOP majority, in a campaign narrative focusing on the good-government sensibilities of Michiganders.
The full column will be posted once the newspaper publishes.
— Dennis Lennox