A tweet from Governor Rick Snyder had me stirring on Monday: “Political statements and finger pointing from political candidates only distract from solving the Flint water crisis.” This, of course, after he has received national criticism and a call from presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to resign from office; the latter calling it “one of the worst public health crises in the modern history of this country.”
Mr. Snyder’s social media declaration is a strategic political deflection used often by public officials to escape culpability. Does he have any right to stoke anger from the people of Flint – to call out opponents as the real hindrances to progress – when there is a clear trajectory of events that point to him as largely responsible for the situation the city is currently faced with?
Snyder seems to be unaware his own tweet is, as he says, serving to “distract from solving the Flint water crisis,” by limply stating the blame game will get us nowhere. A crisis of his own doing. A crisis he knew was in the works for two years running.
By now, most of Michigan, no less the nation, know the facts surrounding the switch to the Flint River, the lead leach from the pipes into the water supply and the falsified “facts” and attempted cover-up by state officials. Now, last week, information was released that 10 people have already died from Legionnaire’s Disease, a waterborne illness already said to have infected 87 people in Genesee County. This week, on Monday, it was estimated by the United Way that 6,000- 12,000 children have been exposed to lead. There is no mincing words. An entire city was poisoned – namely one of the poorest in the U.S., with 40 percent of its residents below poverty level – but Gov. Snyder would rather avoid “political statements and finger-pointing.” Right.
Once again, Snyder, acting with the utmost flippancy (toward the press, on Twitter, et al.), has proved himself a person more concerned with public image than with the people of Flint. Nobody is finger pointing; finger-pointing suggests we are somehow being irresponsible in seeking justice for indefensible actions – the effects of which will loom over the city for many years into the future.
Using a term such as “finger-pointing” denies the legitimate anger felt from the residents of Flint. The city needs a person to point its collective finger toward, to know someone is being held accountable. It is clear Snyder takes us for fools, as his wont is to continually deny the political aspects of this tragedy. But it is a fool’s errand: to be sure, the crisis is another example of government officials exhibiting clear contempt for the poor.
If Snyder is let off the hook, allowed to keep on with his duties while the people continue to pay for his mistakes, the implications would be devastating. All the committees and executive orders from the governor will not the change his instrumental role in this tragedy. He needs to go. firstname.lastname@example.org