A guest post from Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer:
It’s been one week since more than 3,000 of you came to the Michigan capitol to speak out against Republicans trying to silence the voices of women during a debate on our healthcare. One week since we stood together and proudly spoke the word they were so afraid to hear on the floor of the House of Representatives. One week since we sent a message that while we didn’t start this war on women, we most certainly have the power to win it!
In that week since our rally with Eve Ensler, the reaction has continued to be overwhelming. More than 50 statewide newspaper editorials have supported our efforts, a petition calling on Speaker of the House Jase Bolger to apologize has grown to nearly 50,000 signatures and even conservative strategists are publicly calling the House’s actions “dumbfounding” and a “crazy way to respond” to women exercising their right to speak up.
While so many voices have spoken out against what happened, there has remained a disappointing silence not only from those responsible for it, but from Governor Snyder.
Our Governor ran on being a business person, a “tough nerd” who wasn’t afraid to make difficult decisions and put politics aside to focus on doing what’s best for our state and our people. Unfortunately, when it comes to standing up to his fellow Republicans as they pass damaging and divisive legislation while equating their treatment of female legislators to “giving a kid a timeout” (as Rep. Wayne Schmidt so eloquently put it),the “tough” nerd instead only stands silent on the sidelines.
As a former CEO, Governor Snyder should know better than most the damage this type of behavior can have on our state’s bottom line. It sends a message that Michigan would rather focus on political games than rebuilding our economy. It tells female business leaders to look elsewhere to grow jobs because we don’t recognize their value. Worst of all, it tells our young men & women that is what now defines their home state and encourages them to relocate elsewhere as they graduate and begin their careers.
All Governor Snyder had to do is tell the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives that this behavior cannot and should not be tolerated. That if Michigan is to truly recover through what he calls “relentless positive action” we cannot have our legislature make Michigan the laughing stock of the nation by regressing us back into debates we thought had been settled 50 years ago.
Unfortunately, all we’ve heard from Governor Snyder are excuses and refusals to answer questions about what’s happened. When confronted about it by reporters last week, he’d only say “I hope they do resolve it.”
I would suggest to Governor Snyder that as the leader of our state, it’s his job to make sure this issue is resolved, not to stand idly by and hope people stop asking him about it.
It’s time for the Governor to be the leader he promised to be on the campaign trail. It’s time for the Governor to finally show that his toughness is more than a slogan and tell Speaker Bolger that he needs to apologize. It’s time for the Governor to understand that if he expects us to believe in his “relentless positive action,” he cannot stand silent as his Republican Representatives act more like they’re in a fraternity house than the State House.
I hope you’ll join me in telling Governor Snyder that we expect better from him than to watch this happen and tell us that “I hope they do resolve it.”
Thank you again to all of you who came to the rally last week and to the thousands more of you that voiced your support online and throughout your communities. It was an amazing event for me to be a part of and one that I hope is only the beginning of a much larger effort to restore our voices in the Michigan legislature.