Skip to content

What Kind of Change Do We really want to see in Michigan: Part I

November 13, 2022

“Since 1984, Republicans have used their control of the Michigan Senate to block things Michigan families need. No more.”   Michigan Senate Democrats statement after the 2022 elections

The Democratic Party now has control of the State House, the State Senate and the Governor’s seat, which is the first time this has happened since the early 1980s.

With the Democrats now being in the driver’s seat through at least the end of 2024, this seems like a great time to make the kinds of demands we want, in terms of policy change. The Blue wave has come to Michigan, and since the Democratic Party is the “party of the people”, then this seems like a perfect opportunity to create a list of policy demands that the Dems can pass in Michigan. If we can take seriously the above comment from the Michigan Senate Democrats, then it is crucial to ask what it is that families living in Michigan really need? 

It has been my experience over the past 40 years of doing organizing work, along with my read of US history, is that federal, state and local governments don’t generally make the necessary changes that people need. Governments must be pushed and pressured by organized movements of resistance, which is the essential message of Howard Zinn’s monumental book, A People’s History of the United States.

The following list of demands is based on movement politics that I have been involved in or movement politics that I have been following closely for the past 40 years. If you have additional ideas, then by all means send them along or create your own on a different platform, but let’s think creatively, let’s practice radical imagination and lets demand collective liberation. We will cover some of these demands in several postings, plus most of these issues intersect, so we will regularly refer back to other demands.

Immigration Justice

One demand, which should be an easy one, is for a Democratic Party controlled State legislature to provide undocumented immigrants the right to obtain a driver’s license. This has been a demand of Movimiento Cosecha and the coalition known as Drive Forward Michigan.

End any and all cooperation between the State of Michigan and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition, the State of Michigan should adopt a formal sanctuary policy, which would include no law enforcement cooperation with ICE, but also a public declaration to stand with the undocumented community and to provide support for them. Support could be in the form of connecting undocumented immigrants to community resources, but it might also mean providing material and legal support to prevent arrest, detention and deportation.

We know that many immigrants come to the US because their country is experiencing political violence, the effects of Climate catastrophe or the consequences of economic policies that benefit the wealthiest members of their country or foreign countries. US foreign policy is often a culprit in forced migration around the world, therefore we would call upon the State of Michigan to meet with and pressure members of Congress from Michigan to get them to fundamentally alter US foreign policy in the countries where said policy is a root cause of forced migration.

The national immigrant justice movement, Movimiento Cosecha, since it began has been demanding dignity, respect and permanent protection for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US. The State of Michigan should also adopt a policy that commits to working towards this goal as well.

Health Care for All

Several Michigan Democrats ran on the claim that they lowered the price of medicines. While this is a step in the right direction, it is woefully inadequate. Michigan legislators need to adopt a Medicare for All policy that is specific to Michigan. Adopting such a policy would guarantee that all people living this state would have access to health care resources and the medications they need.

There are also pharmaceutical companies based in Michigan. Get them to support Medicare for All in Michigan, if not, then those companies should be made into public assets. Health Insurance companies that operate in Michigan, like Priority Health and Blue Cross Blue Care, will also need to get behind Medicare for All, which would essentially make those companies obsolete. The State of Michigan, would then guarantee employment for any and all health insurance employees, if they so chose.

Lastly, all hospitals, clinics and health care facilities should be available for anyone to use at any time, at no cost to those individuals. If health care is a right, then it should be free. On the matter of how Medicare for All will be paid for in Michigan, see the section on US Foreign Policy and Michigan.

Housing Justice

Housing has been a longstanding issue for Michigan families, particularly around affordability. State policy should be rooted in the idea that housing is a right and should not be dictated by the market. 

Our demands should include rent control, which would put limits on landlords and property Management Companies from charging whatever they want for rent in Michigan. Second, more state funds should be available for people to buy a home. One way to create a funding source for first time home buyers would be to stop providing tax breaks, tax incentives and brownfield development resources to developers and redirect them to families in Michigan wanting to buy a home. 

Third, State policy should put an end to the practice of gentrification. Fourth, Vacant buildings should be rehabbed and retrofitted to provide truly affordable housing for families that need it. Fifth, real estate and rental property owner associations should not be allowed to influence future elections through political action committees. Lastly, it should be State policy to make massive investments into creating new housing complexes, which would take more of the housing market out of the private sector. In addition, the State should promote more housing cooperatives, along with Community Land Trusts, which will not only provide a larger variety of affordable housing options, but prevent future possibilities for gentrification.

Education Justice

The State of Michigan should make sure that all public schools are fully funded, to put an end to the practice of allowing public money to be used by charter schools and other private educational systems. 

Public Schools should have greater autonomy to create and implement curriculum that allows for Critical Race Theory, history that centers BIPOC voices and experiences, sex education and education that allows students to be free to be themselves in a safe and healthy environment. No educational resources should be used to promote homophobia or transphobia.

Public Education should not be seen primarily as a space to create talent for the business community, but a place where critical thinking, multiculturalism and skill building for collective liberation are taught.

All Community College, Public Colleges and Public Universities should be free and accessible for anyone who wants to attend.

Religion should not be part of public school education in any capacity.

In Part II, we will explore demands around the following issues: the Prison Industrial Complex/Policing, Racial Justice, Environmental Justice and LGBTQ Justice. 

%d bloggers like this: