Remember Detroit? It’s a city in Michigan that used to be the thriving hub of the United States’ manufacturing industry. It was the Silicon Valley of its day, full of well-paid workers and virulently anti-semitic managers that nevertheless believed in corporate responsibility to the social contract. Sadly that city has fallen on hard times in the last thirty or so years and has been reduced to being the source of material for second-rate comedians and “ruin porn” for the derivative portfolios of uncreative art students. But on the plus side you can buy a house for roughly the same price as a used Honda!
The story of Detroit is usually linked to the history of both organized labor and the middle class in this country, but the city also represented (at one time) the hope for a large number of black families escaping the joys of sharecropping in the American South. In fact it was in Detroit (along with several other industrialized cities) that this country first saw a the development of a distinct black middle class and aristocracy. The rise of organized labor, the UAW in particular, allowed black families to accumulate political and economic agency within the city to the point that black citizens in Detroit became an essential part of the national progressive movement.
But then something wonderful happened: GLOBALIZATION!
Now what was once a diverse metropolis built by people escaping the hellscape of de-facto agrarian slavery is little more than a (literally) burning husk of sadness and Oxy addiction. As the city’s resources dried up in a haze of Reganomics, the enterprising political class that once bore pretty decent folks like John Conyers and Coleman Young then started to produce outright crooks like Kwame Kilpatrick and John Conyers’ wife. Thirty years of intentional neglect has shaped the city into a depressing snow-covered kleptocracy ripe for a takeover by some cynical anti-christ of a politician.
And Republican Governor Rick Snyder is just the man for the job!
You might know Rick Snyder as the man Rachel Maddow has unfavorably compared to a marauding East African desert weasel when he and the rest of the Michigan Republican Party looked into possibly pegging their Presidential electoral votes to their gerrymandered house districts. Snyder is also the man who executed a glorious fuck you to the unions that built his state when he decided to go back on three years of empty promises and ram through a right to work law earlier this year (a law that is sure to create jobs for enterprising soulless contract lawyers).
But Snyder is probably most famous for using Michigan’s insane “emergency manager” laws as a cudgel against any nascent form of democratic opposition to his administration. By November of last year Michiganders (especially the black ones) had grown weary of the state unilaterally taking over every aspect of their local government and effectively nullifying their right to vote for the sake of facilitating the development of private golf courses. But after voters in November rid their state of this pretty gross demonstration of fascism, Snyder decided that it would be in his constituents’ rational self-interest to bring back the law in full (albeit without the ability to overturn it through a public referendum).
Which brings us back to Detroit.
Guess what Lions fans! You might have a variety of problems facing your city but the government (i.e. Snyder’s flacks in the educational reform movement and the Koch Brothers) is here to help!
Yup it seems that Michigan’s largest city is at least in preliminary talks to receive its own viceroy à la Baghdad in 2003. This lucky new person will have the power to void city contracts, completely ignore the concerns of the locally elected officials, and sell municipal property to the most politically connected bidder available — just as the founding fathers and white Jesus intended! But who has the disgusting thirst for power/history of favorable campaign donations required for such a job? Snyder isn’t saying:
Snyder said he expects to make a decision on Detroit’s financial future in the next few weeks.
“We’re talking to people,” Snyder said after a speech Monday in Detroit before members of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “But I won’t speculate about a particular candidate.”
The right candidate has to have the financial credentials to handle the job, Snyder said, and the ability to work with people in a collaborative fashion, which has been a challenge in Detroit.
“The role of the state is not to run the City of Detroit. We’re here to be a partner,” he said.
As always this law will be great for creating jobs – if you happen to work at a financial consulting firm based in New York City.
So hooray to Michigan for once again being the embodiment of the great possibilities of self-government in our flourishing democracy! We look forward to the fantastically gritty music that will come out of the city once the crushing generational poverty of unregulated sociopathic capitalism is combined with the hopelessness of existing as powerless drone in your glorious new era of authoritarian Social Darwinism. At least the Tigers are looking good for next season.