Bankole: State political leaders can compromise
Otto von Bismarck, credited as one of history’s greatest negotiators and for being the architect of the German unification once said, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable, the art of the next best.”
Perhaps the single most important interpretation drawn from Bismarck’s political wisdom used in the 1800s, to unify his nation as a dominant empire in Europe, is that politics is the art of compromise.
For Michigan, we’ll soon find out if that is true. How a Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, armed with an electoral agenda works successfully with a Republican Legislature will determine whether Lansing will be a problem-solving place in this new dispensation. It will tell us a lot about who truly wants to go work for the interests of the governed.
“We are all in this together and looking at this from an R and a D perspective will only hurt the people we serve,” state Sen. Peter J. Lucido, R-Shelby Twp., told me in a candid interview after Whitmer’s inauguration.
Lucido, representing Macomb County’s Senate District 8, will chair the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. He was just named leader of the Senate’s advice and consent panel that will oversee the governor’s appointments.
He told me he wants to work with Whitmer, because she cannot succeed if the climate in Lansing isn’t collaborative.
“Both of us should put our hands together and be able to work in unison for the best interest of the people,” Lucido said. “There will be a lot of disagreements, and then we will have those times of disagreements based on perception and what is best for our districts.”
He added, “You are not going to agree with everything. But as long as we can get a compromise, doing nothing is not going to help the people. You might as well get an empty chair.”
State Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said though there will be differences on some occasions, he’s hopeful that collaboration and breakthrough on some big issues in the past, will compel the Legislature this time around to work on issues important to families.
“As an example, Sen. Mike Shirkey led the effort on the Conservative side of the aisle for Medicaid expansion when he was in the House. His support was critical to that collaboration, resulting in almost 700,000 people having access to health providers and bringing billions of dollars into the Michigan economy,” Irwin said. “Now, Sen. Shirkey is the Senate Majority Leader, and his past willingness to work across the aisle to help Michigan gives me hope for bipartisanship.”
He sees collaboration as key to the success of the Legislature in this term.
“It is my judgment that starting from small agreements is a good way to build confidence for collaboration on harder issues like school finance, insurance rates, and fixing our roads and transit systems,” Irwin said. “I think that starts with making progress on issues where there is already significant overlap like criminal justice reform. I will also be looking to collaborate on rebuilding our transportation and water infrastructure. Michigan can put people to work today, making tangible, long-term investments in our future prosperity.”
Lucido, on the other hand, sees lowering auto insurance as a precursor to fixing the roads Whitmer campaigned on and is working on legislation to address the issue.
“Without fixing insurance people cannot go down the road of expense and cost. Fixing the road means where the roads are in most disrepair and that is southeast Michigan because that is where we have the most traffic,” Lucido said. “We have four million registered vehicles in the region compared to seven million across the state. If you want to fix the roads, you’ve got to get insurance under control.”
As the legislative terms begins, Irwin says many Michiganians need help and their issues must be the top priority.
"We have seniors, living on a fixed income, who need help staying in their homes. We have people who have worked themselves to the bone, but who still face hunger, homelessness and victimization. We have people facing addiction or struggling to survive because of their mental health and I will work with anybody who is serious about addressing these urgent concerns,” Irwin said.
“Pointing fingers doesn’t solve anything. Finding a compromise gets the best result for the people we serve. I want to see Michigan strive to have the very best leaders, and the way we lead is by hearing people first and then sit together in a room to iron it out,” Lucido said.
Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at noon weekdays on Superstation 910AM.