Bankole: Snyder should see through Flint fix
The latest Detroit News/WDIV poll showed that 54 percent of likely Michigan voters do not approve of Gov. Rick Snyder’s performance in office—the Flint lead water crisis being a big reason. The Republican governor also has a 25 percent disapproval rating among his own party.
This reads like the political obituary of a man who presided over the worst social catastrophe of its kind in Michigan history.
The governor’s ardent critics, including those who want him to resign now or be kicked out of office, are already sharpening their knives with this latest poll. It gives ammunition to the fledgling movement that has been collecting signatures to recall Snyder.
The poll validates what some have long predicted that history would not look favorably on a governor who stood by and watched poor, innocent and helpless children of Flint have their future mortgaged on the altar of callous government inaction.
Those Flint children—roughly 10,000 of them—who should also enjoy the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” now have to worry about the lead poison water they were exposed to for 18 months.
There were many opportunities—as emails have now shown—that Snyder and his administration could have seized to take swift action to mitigate the lead crisis but did not. And some of us are still wondering why certain state officials are still on government’s payroll after their names were implicated in emails.
Has any lesson been learned from the Flint crisis yet?
That is why the poll is instructive because it further shows that Michigan is angry about how Snyder has shepherded the Flint crisis.
But despite this poll and other subsequent polls that will be conducted to assess the governor, he should not resign now. The man whose regime for the most part created the mess should stay in there and fix it.
Demanding that Snyder resign might be a good talking point and an effective way to rally support to publicly litigate the state government’s unresponsiveness during the unraveling of the Flint saga.
But realistically, asking him to step down is like saying, “Okay, you created the problem, don’t fix it, just leave now.”
That is not a responsible way of dealing with the crisis. Political accountability requires that those who created problems should contribute their fair share in remedying those problems, instead of simply hiding in shame or succumbing to pressure to leave office.
What needs to happen now is to channel the energy that is being exerted in requesting the resignation of the governor to pressure the state to do more for Flint.
We can begin to save Flint’s children from a potentially damaging future by ensuring that the administration in Lansing moves with all deliberate speed in providing more resources to the city.
If Snyder were to resign in the middle of this crisis, by the time the undertaking required for a transition to have a new government in place to respond to Flint is completed, the 2018 gubernatorial election will be upon us. It would have been a waste of time and resources.
Thus, the last two years Snyder has in office should be used to fully address the crisis in Flint’s impoverished community, with the recognition that this is an inter-generational problem.
Though the next governor after Snyder would have some heavy lifting to do, Snyder should be allowed to do a large chunk of that heavy lifting with the two years he has in office, instead of resigning.
Bankole Thompson is the host of “Redline with Bankole Thompson” on Super Station 910 AM Wednesdays and Fridays. His column appears Mondays and Thursday.