In the last few days, my state has passed a wide variety of extremely conservative measures. First, we became a right-to-work state. Despite the massive protests from those of use who support unions, legislation was jammed through in five days, and Snyder signed the bill behind closed doors. Later, he claimed the bill would actually make unions more effective.
Then, they repassed emergency manager legislation that contains key aspects of the previous law that voters overturned a month ago; a massive anti-choice bill that was too controversial to pass before elections and that will make Michigan one of the most extremely restrictive state in the nation; a concealed-carry law that will allow people to take concealed weapons into day care centers, churches, schools, and stadiums despite the large amount of gun violence we see already; finally, they repealed the personal property tax, which will give businesses almost a $600 per year tax break—yes, this in the state that has slashed tax breaks for low- and middle-class citizens (EIC, a child tax credit…). All these bills are expected to be signed by Snyder, though he promised us once that he was about making the touch business decisions, not about gutting social rights.
“Take the state back,” people say on the right. “We need to take the state [and the country] back.” But my question here is always: “Back from whom?” Liberals aren’t holding the people hostage; we are outsiders who have come to crush American ideals. We live here too, and our ideals promote peace, unity, justice, fairness—and I’m pretty sure all of those are American ideals.
In the last few days, my state has begun to feel like a hostile place. I was happy to move back here after graduating from my MFA program. I was proud to say I was from Michigan. I love my state. So much so, in fact, that I was willing to make a one-day sacrifice for my own goals and dreams and stay here instead.
You see, I want to teach creative writing. Ideally at a graduate level, but undergrad would be good, too. Except, until now, I’ve always seen that dream as fairly far-fetched. I didn’t want to leave Michigan, didn’t want to leave the Lansing-area, despite the fact that I would almost certainly have to move, one day, for the job I want. Until now, my love of Michigan—my home—and my career goals were too close in importance to call. But now…
But now, I think I’d be—perhaps not glad but rather content to leave. This isn’t the type of threat people make after each presidential election (“I’m moving to Canada!”). I plan to be in Michigan for many years to come still while I finish writing and then sell my first book. I don’t hate it here, but in many ways, I don’t feel welcome here. My voice is not, and will not, be heard. Too many are determined to have it their way or no way, and that, definitely, is not an American ideal.