Bill Schuette, the Republican nominee for governor, seems to be operating from President Donald Trump’s playbook of hardline immigration politics. Schuette is confirming what most of his critics have long feared about him: That he will be in lockstep with the White House on key issues that are tearing this nation such as immigration.

The evidence lies in one of his first television commercials, which is a vociferous attack that attempts to paint his Democratic opponent, Gretchen Whitmer, as soft on immigration and vowing to end sanctuary cities.

Schuette is not running to be president of the United States. He is running to become the next governor. The irony is that he wants to succeed Republican Rick Snyder, who had a more compassionate and pro-immigration stance. To demonstrate that he truly cared about making Michigan a more welcoming state, Snyder boldly created the Office for New Americans emphasizing the fact that Michigan shouldn’t be close minded.

During a 2014 visit to Washington, D.C., for the National Governor’s Association meeting, Snyder told the Washington Post, “I’m a Republican and I’m happy to help lead the charge to say ‘let’s embrace immigration.’”

But it seems as if Schuette’s new political tactic designed to garner votes is to go the extreme route and pander to a base. 

By doing so, he is sending a very bad signal to ethnic communities already living in fear of the immigration policies coming out of Washington, D.C.

Michigan’s ethnic communities, whether in Dearborn, southwest Detroit, Hamtramck and other places, make up the beautiful mosaic of this state. That’s something anyone seeking to be the next chief executive of the state should be proud of.

What has always made America great is that it is a nation of immigrants, whether it was Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi prosecution or early immigrants who came through Ellis Island escaping religious intolerance and other forms of persecutions.

Earlier this year, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement about the separation of immigrant families and children seeking entry at the border.

“This is the kind of sentiment that prevented Jewish asylum seekers from emigrating to the U.S. in the 1930s, who were fleeing violence much like the families from Central America presently seeking entry at the border. The government’s attempt to deter immigrants from Mexico, Central America and South America, by threatening to take their children away is unconscionable,” the ADL stated.

Schuette is a student of history who understands how the consequences of past mistakes have shaped our view of history today. He should not appear to be trying to win an election at all costs by going down a road that will further alienate the Republican Party from people of color. 

He and Whitmer should focus on the bread and butter issues in Michigan. What would serve voters well during this campaign season is how each of them plan to help struggling families put food on their tables and make education more affordable for their children. He should leave issues that are within the jurisdiction of the federal government to Congress and the White House. 

Flint has a problem. Thousands of families in that impoverished city are still reeling from the water crisis. Detroit has a poverty problem. Other parts of the state are struggling as well. 

We need to hear what Schuette plans to do about the restoration of Flint given that he is leading the prosecution there. He should also be talking about how his administration would work with the mayor of Detroit to address the challenges of economic inequality. According to the census, Detroit is among the nation’s most impoverished big cities at 35.7 percent. 

Schuette is a very calculated politician. He should understand that running a Trump-like campaign with virtually the same talking points is not going to help move this state forward and bring us together. It’s 2018 not 2020. 

There are enough issues facing the state from education, small businesses, health care and roads that the candidates ought to focus on. It may seem politically expedient for Schuette and his strategists to run a Trumpian-type campaign because the president won the state by a very small margin. 

But if that is the calculation, it will be fair game for Trump’s critics to also make Schuette answer for all of the president’s missteps. That kind of politics won’t serve Michigan well because Trump isn’t going to be the one running the state beginning January 2019. 

Regardless of the outcome of the gubernatorial contest, Bill Schuette should strive to be remembered as someone who tried to unite, not divide, the state with policies that have no redeeming value. History is watching.

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at noon weekdays on Superstation 910AM.

Read or Share this story: