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Craig Ruff
Craig Ruff

The Virtues
of One-Party Rule

January 16, 2012

You can’t help but contrast last year’s policy changes in Lansing with the previous eight years of paralysis. Contrast last year’s paralysis in D.C. with the previous two years of significant national policy changes.

When voters put one party in charge, they get action. They get change.

When voters divvy up election spoils, they likely will get a sluggish, unresponsive government.

To the notion that divided government advances the commonweal, I say phooey. Tedious negotiations do not serve a public purpose. Leaders expend a hell of a lot of time serving up watered-down gruel that Oliver wouldn’t eat.

Dividing government is like assembling a bartender, shrink, psychopath, Jesuit, agnostic, Christian evangelical, Muslim, and Unitarian and asking them to agree on what is sin.

I am a moderate who craves policy changes that serve the times.

President Obama and congressional Democrats pulled off temperate change in 2009-10; Governor Snyder and state legislative Republicans did likewise in 2011. Nothing about these governments strikes me as particularly radical. Both tackled big problems with measured solutions. They struck quickly.

As some readers know, I admire the parliamentary system. It places philosophy above personality. More importantly and more often than not, it settles who is in charge and produces clear, efficiently enacted policy change. It holds a party accountable to voters, not this mishmash of executives and legislative leaders of different stripes.

Being centrist does not mean that one abhors boldness. A centrist homes in on what works and doesn’t. Sometimes, a more liberal government produces solid results; sometimes, a more conservative one does. I will steal logical, likely-to-succeed ideas from all quarters.

With quibbles and misgivings here and there, I admire what Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats produced in 2009-10. I admire what Mr. Snyder and legislative Republicans produced in 2011.

2012 may hand over to Republicans or Democrats the presidency and control of both chambers of Congress. That would please me. That plus ending filibusters in the U.S. Senate.

Voters may displace a Republican majority in the state House of Representatives with a Democratic majority. Nothing against my Democratic friends, but that’s likely to kick-start the inertia of the last decade.

A divided government in Lansing and D.C. will cripple policy change that meets the public’s needs.

Prophecy Contest
I tip my hat to the winner of the 2011 Michigan Prophecy Contest: Donald J. Tilley, with 45 correct answers (75 percent). For the next 12 months, Tilley is Michigan’s Prophet of the Year.

Tilley is a social studies teacher and department chair at Central High School in Bay City, having taught for 21 years. For the last seven years he has chaired the Bay County Board of Commissioners. A Democrat, he represents the 9th District in Bay City, where he grew up. He earned a B.A. from Saginaw Valley State University and Master’s from Central Michigan. Married, with four children, he is involved in local and state politics and loves golf, travel, and hanging out in his gazebo listening to Jimmy Buffett. Congratulations, Donald Tilley!

Give credit where credit is also due. Just one point behind Tilley is Vince Capizzo, who also came in second last year, again just one point back from winning. Capizzo designs electronics for television broadcasters and music recording studios. In the late ’80s he served on the committee that wrote the technical standards for the HDTV system in use today. He lives in Bloomfield Hills.

His son, Luke, was Michigan Prophet of the Year in 2009. He’s now working for a marketing and public relations firm (Identity) in Bingham Farms. Like I, both are aficionados of Andrea Camilleri’s police procedurals featuring Inspector Salvo Montalbano. For recommendations of Sicilian detective stories or prognostication skills, I’d go to the Capizzo family.

While the Dow Jones exceeded 12,000 at year’s end (our tie breaker), no Michigan stock hit the contest’s threshold; obviously I was too bullish in framing the statements. The Detroit Tigers won their division for the first time in nearly a quarter century, and the Lions won seven or more games. State college teams did not win outright their conferences nor did they shine in post-season basketball and hockey. We didn’t produce a Tony, Nobel, or Pulitzer winner this year, but the Golden Globes nominated for best picture The Ides of March, which was filmed, in part, in Michigan. Former Governor Granholm became not only a TV commentator but also a host.

A Michigan member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Dale Kildee) announced his retirement. Governor Snyder vetoed at least one bill sent to him by the Republican legislature. The legislature adopted a budget before July 4.

I salute, again, the co-winners of 2010, Jake Davison and Bill Kerans. They now are Michigan Prophets immediate emeriti.

If you did not enter the Michigan Prophecy Contest for 2012 by now, you’re too late. But give it a shot next December.

Craig Ruff is, among many things, a senior policy fellow and former president of Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants.

January 16, 2012 · Filed under Craig's Grist Tags: , ,

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