As is always the case in the October of an election year, it is impossible to turn on the television and not see campaign advertisements.
What is interesting to me right now is the ads not airing, as in, which topics have the gubernatorial candidates and their allies emphasized in their news releases and comments to reporters, but not put their money where their mouth is when it comes to placing those messages on television.
On the side of the Democrats and their candidate, Mark Schauer, the big surprise to me right now is the lack of a real push on the troubled Aramark prison food services and other “scandals” they have emphasized about the administration of Republican Governor Rick Snyder.
The advertising message from Mr. Schauer, the Democratic Governors Association and now a labor group Working Voice, is simple and consistent: Mr. Snyder taxed pensions, cut taxes for big corporations and cut $1 billion from K-12 schools. Some of these ads also mention the substantial pay raises that Department of Treasury staff in charge of the state’s investments received, but that is as far as the ads go in playing the scandal card.
The liberal group Progress Michigan is stepping up its efforts on the Aramark contract, announcing today a second cable television buy to draw attention to the issue (though that will not likely come close to match the emphasis other entities have put on the pension tax and education funding). No ad attention has been paid to various transparency issues Democrats have played up all year on Mr. Snyder’s now defunct nonprofit fund and the troubles of his now resigned Michigan State Housing Development Authority chief, Scott Woosley, after the Michigan Democratic Party uncovered questionable expenses he billed.
Mr. Schauer also has yet to air an ad that lets voters see a lighter side of him that also emphasizes a key trait he would bring to governing along the lines of Mr. Snyder’s 2010 “One Tough Nerd” ad or Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Peters’ “Frugal” ad.
On the Republican side, for all the emphasis the party has put on Mr. Schauer holding the distinction of having the largest campaign finance fine in Michigan history as a result of violating the Michigan Campaign Finance Act while he was the Senate minority leader, that has yet to show up in an ad.
And there are Republicans wondering why Mr. Snyder has yet to play a little more offense and tout his record, specifically on Detroit, where the city is poised to emerge from bankruptcy in much better financial shape.
These omissions raise the question of whether the parties tested them as potential messages and saw them flounder with voters or if they simply concluded their money was best spent on a few targeted messages.
October 21 is Will Carleton’s birthday. But you knew that. Didn’t you? For now 95 years it has been the law that on October 21 each year the schools are to teach one of Mr. Carleton’s poems to school children, so surely you can quote Michigan’s most famous poet, outside of Philip Levine maybe. (Oh, don’t tell me you don’t know Philip Levine.)
Mr. Carleton was born in Hillsdale County in 1845, attended Hillsdale College, was a newspaper man and attained fame for his poems that dealt with more practical reality than many a line of Victorian era verse.
His most famous poem, “Over the Hill to the Poorhouse,” dealt with an elderly woman forced to live off charity because her family refused to help her.
But he went on to write many volumes of poems, so your teachers surely had you learning a new one each year. He retained some popularity long after he died in 1912. Johnny Cash, a poet himself after all, admired his work.
And with the question of income inequity now again a popular political argument nationally, to do its part for this important cultural day, we present the final stanza of Mr. Carleton’s poem, “A Million Millions.”
Just think! A million millions!-
The care of all those millions!
And after all, what would befall
A life with all those millions?
Would not the lucre clog my brain,
And make me hard and cold and vain?
Might not treasure win my heart,
And make me loath with it to part?
How could I tell, by mortal sign
Betwixt my money’s friends and mine?
And then, the greed, and strife, and curse,
The world brings round a princely purse.
Perhaps my soul,
Upon the whole,
Is best without the millions!