This column originally appeared in the Detroit News.
Thanksgiving is nearly here. This most nationalist of traditions predates even our nation’s founding. It remains a core value we share: a time of pause and reflection to thrive in gratitude.
Politics, which always lags behind a free-peoples’ culture, took nearly 200 years before it published a proclamation on our “thanksgiving” practice. Eventually, politicians tend to appropriate everything. Amidst the Civil War, the first Thanksgiving proclamation focused on “the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”
Thankfully, we are not currently engaged in a (declared) war, civil or otherwise. However, we too, live in extraordinary times. While many are engaged in a virtual war of words and ideas rather than bullets, it is fitting to enter this season with reflection and an attitude of thankfulness. We have so much for which to be thankful.
Here in Michigan, we are thankful for conservative majorities in the state Legislature. Under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, our Legislature has been a champion for smarter government, personal liberty and the rule of law. Nowhere has that been more evident than in the battle over Michigan’s budget priorities.
When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer walked away from budget negotiations, the Legislature stuck together through an arduous process and did the right thing for the citizens of Michigan, completing the budget on time. The House and Senate listened to their constituents and refused to cave to Whitmer’s demands for an unnecessary gas tax hike. Our Legislature equally funded students across the state, supported the priorities of Michigan taxpayers like rural hospitals and law enforcement, and even delivered more funding for our roads and bridges, without putting an increase in revenue on the backs of Michigan families.
It is unfortunate that Whitmer used her veto pen to undermine these priorities, damaging her credibility and endangering the safety and well-being of Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens. While we will continue to hold Whitmer’s administration accountable, and despite our many differences, we are grateful for the Governor’s willingness and commitment to serving our great state.
We are thankful for the voters, who have seen through the governor’s hypocrisy. Given that our governor’s job approval plummeted below that of our President’s polling, it is crystal clear voters recognize that the Legislature did its job and Whitmer alone owns the consequences of her cuts.
Thank you to every Michigan taxpayer. Today, while our state is dramatically smaller than it was two decades ago, our taxpayers fund the largest government in Michigan’s history.
Finally, we are most thankful for you, the average Michigan resident who goes to work while it is still dark outside, participating in the greatest antipoverty program in mankind’s history: a free market. We are thankful for the vast majority of voters who refuse to let politicians divide us and who, while paying attention to politics, refuse to derive meaning from it; opting instead for purpose in family, friends and community.
During the next year, America will be engaged in an intense debate. It will be an important debate. Passion is justified, intolerance is not. Let’s inaugurate this conversation at next week’s Thanksgiving dinner with reflections of gratitude and appreciation for what unites us.
Greg McNeilly is chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund.