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Gubernatorial Candidate Snyder’s Empty Rhetoric Comes to Grand Rapids

May 26, 2010

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder came to Grand Rapids on Monday as part of his Reinvent Michigan tour. Under a sweltering sun about 200 people gathered at Rosa Parks for the town hall meeting at noon. Some of the people were lured there by the smell of free hot dogs, given in exchange for wearing a Snyder campaign sticker. Others came due to their involvement in the Republican Party, including big time donor Peter Secchia and Bill Cooper, who is running for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Republican gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra.

Snyder began the meeting by outlining his reasons for running for governor, saying Michigan is in an economic disaster and Lansing is broken and overwhelmed by career politicians. Snyder often touts himself as being a nerdy businessman who is outside of the political world of Lansing.

In some respects that’s true. He doesn’t have much experience in Lansing, being an entrepreneur who has made millions by running Gateway Computers in the 90s and starting up Ardesta, a micro and nanotechnology firm.

But Snyder does have enough experience to use the popular Republican line, saying, “It’s time for bureaucracy to go.” He went on to say bureaucracy is a hundred year old system that should be replaced with a customer service government that is more transparent and regulates less. To continue his business rhetoric he said, “If Lansing was a business, we would have fired them a long time ago.”

Yet being a self-described nerd, Snyder sure doesn’t talk like it. At the town hall meeting his rhetoric often lacked substance, a common problem with political speak. Snyder didn’t offer much in the way of concrete plans of how to implement what he calls “Michigan 3.0“, or Michigan’s next era.

Snyder talked about the need to create more jobs but didn’t say much about how. Rather Snyder just said, “The government’s role is not to supply jobs but to create the environment for jobs.” It seems he hopes to create this environment by ridding Michigan of its current business tax and replacing it with a 6% flat corporate tax. But this isn’t certain if it would lead to more jobs or save the state money, and Snyder’s plan would reduce the state’s spending on public worker’s wages and benefits.

When asked about how to fix Michigan’s crumbling education system, Snyder said what needs to happen is a change in dialogue, making it more about the teachers and students rather than funding. Yet not much can be done to keep teachers in the state and schools open for students without money.

Many of these students later attend colleges in Michigan, though keeping them here after college is another issue. When asked about this by a young college student, Snyder replied that Michigan needs to build up a mentor network and to create a better quality of place where young people want to flock to. But Michigan needs to create a lot more than that if it wants to keep its young people, namely diversified jobs.

Near the end of the meeting, Snyder labeled himself a Republican but said also that he doesn’t mention party anywhere in his political literature because he wants people to vote for him because of what he stands for. But what he stands for is the same old Republican ideas of limiting government, letting free markets reign, and cutting taxes.

Rick Snyder is running against fellow Republicans Attorney General Mike Cox, state Sen. Tom George, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard in an August 3rd primary.

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