Black Lives Don’t Matter: The Political reality of Electoral Politics in Michigan
According to a recent report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, the top 150 Political Action Committees (PACs) have raised $26 million this year through April. The top ten PACs in Michigan are listed below, but you can go to this link to see what other groups are raising money to buy the elections.
Of course there are the usual suspects such as Republican and Democratic Party PACs, which are acting in their own self interest. In fact, most PACs raise money for their own self interests. The Michigan Farm Bureau wants to make sure that agribusiness interests are taken care of by the politicians in Lansing, just like corporations such as DTE, Ford, Consumers Energy, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Meijer.
Then there are other groups like the DeVos led PAC, the Great Lakes Education Project, which seeks to undermine public education. There are other entities like the Michigan and Grand Rapids Chambers of Commerce, which will also try to secure the interest of the capitalist class through their PACs come the November election.
There is nothing shocking or revealing about such entities, which will continue to raise and spend millions of dollars before the election day on November. However, if one looks at the list of top Political Action Committees, one can see that there are numerous trade unions that have also raised collectively several million dollars. Now, it is no secret that they too are trying to influence the outcome of the election and are primarily throwing their funds behind the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates.
Remember in 2012, when labor groups tried to get Prop 2 passed in Michigan? Unions spent $21.9 million dollars that year to push for Proposal 2. What if that amount of money, along with all the current labor-based PAC money, was spent on paying people to become organizers, to provide resources to those doing organizing campaigns wherever workers wanted to organize? Workplace democracy is one of the strongest forms of democracy and can trump Right to Work laws. If businesses do not have compliant workers, they can’t make money.
In addition, what if unions, which are spending millions on the current election, would redirect those funds to building affordable housing in their communities. What about re-directing those funds used for elections to create community gardens in urban spaces to improve the nutrition of families with children? Imagine if unions collectively spent money that made the statement Black Lives Matter and assisted Black families experiencing poverty, increased rent costs and mass incarceration. Don’t you think that taking these kinds of actions would send a strong message that labor groups truly care about working class people? Imagine what such a show of solidarity would do to build membership. More importantly, imagine how it might radically challenge systems of power and oppression.
BUT…….this is not likely to happen. Those same unions will spend millions and millions of dollars on electoral politics. So, how is that strategy working out for communities of color, undocumented immigrants, communities experiencing violence at the hands of the state and working class families who are struggling to survive? That answer seems pretty obvious. An electoral strategy doesn’t work for communities of color, undocumented immigrants and working class families. The reality is that the trade unions, which give millions to the Democratic Party, send a very real and clear message – Black Lives Don’t Matter!