This column originally appeared in The Detroit News.
Republicans and Democrats all want safe, healthy communities. We want to beat the coronavirus, and until that day comes, we want to mitigate risks smartly to keep ourselves and loved ones healthy.
We tend to differ — in Lansing — regarding what we believe state government should or shouldn’t do to mitigate those risks. The good news for voters is they get a say Nov. 3.
All 110 seats in the state House of Representatives are up for election, and candidates in those races couldn’t offer voters a greater contrast in their approaches to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Michigan’s Supreme Court earlier this month rebuked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, declaring her handling of the pandemic via executive order illegal and unconstitutional. The Court demanded the governor abide by the law and work with — not illegally cut out — the state Legislature.
We, the voters, have an opportunity to decide what kind of legislature we send to work with the governor.
For six months, Republicans introduced and passed bills to keep COVID-19 out of nursing homes and to fund and safely open Michigan’s schools fully. The Democrats opposed them.
Recognizing the devastating effect lockdowns have had on health, access to and trust in lifesaving vaccines, access to desperately needed health care, mental health challenges, potential increases in drug abuse, suicide, domestic violence, and poverty — Republicans fought to combat the virus with science and compassion — not a grab bag of ineffective executive orders.
It’s an approach that mirrors the advice of thousands of leading physicians and medical scientists across the nation and worldwide.
For six months, Democrats in the state House blasted Republicans for defending the constitution and criticized Republicans for wanting Michigan residents to keep their jobs.
Republicans offered a balanced, moderate approach to the trade-offs required in fighting a pandemic; Democrats retreated to ignorance of the foreseeable consequences of not addressing public health as a complex challenge.
House Democrats remain silent as their party leaders play politics with lifesaving vaccines and attempt to block Republicans from protecting nursing homes ravaged by COVID-19.
What has their approach produced?
At least 2.3 million men and women in the state have qualified for unemployment insurance since around when the governor first cut lawmakers out of the process and issued her lockdown orders. Michigan’s unemployment rate hit a staggering 24% earlier in the year.
Other states and nations rejected job-killing lockdowns and avoided economic devastation and, more importantly, avoided increasing public health harms associated with lockdown mandates.
When Michigan workers needed them to fight back, House Democrats kept quiet. The coming recession is likely a result of Democrat’s policies.
A new study from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University looked at approximate lost learning in Michigan due to school lockdowns that scientists and physicians have repeatedly testified do more harm than good. They describe their findings as “chilling.”
The experts estimate that forcing children outside the classroom — even in instances where they could attend safely in-person — resulted in Michigan students losing approximately 122 school days-worth of lost learning in reading and 195 days in math. They estimate it’ll take years — plural — for students to get back to even.
When parents needed allies in Lansing, House Democrats turned their backs.
House Democrats acquiesced to orders that kept victims in homes with abusers, strained residents’ emotional health, emptied families’ bank accounts and forced Michigan residents to wonder where the next meal would come from.
Domestic violence increased by more than 48% in Grand Rapids at the start of the lockdown. In Detroit, violent crime rates have risen sharply, with murders up 23% over the previous year and shootings up 50%.
When the unconstitutional orders made our streets and communities less safe, dozens of House Democrats finally found their voice, though. They demanded the state defund the police. That’s what today’s Democrat Party advocates for.
Thanks to the Supreme Court, the state legislature is back on the field. What kind of Legislature it’ll be is up to you. Vote wisely.
Greg McNeilly is chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund.