Trouble in Michigan
The state where I live and where I vote is about to be bought.
Michigan is not for sale but another Michigan resident, Betsy DeVos, thinks it is.
One can’t blame her for trying to buy the Governor’s Office, Michigan electors and election result certifications. DeVos makes up for a lack of homespun charisma — no Sarah Palin, she — with her pocketbook and influence.
I am not surprised.
Ever since reporters revealed that DeVos had contributed to every Republican Senator Committee member’s PAC in order to gain their approval vote during her Senate Cabinet appointment, (1) I, like others, have been watching DeVos.
She has not disappointed. DeVos resigned from Trump’s cabinet in January 2021, citing 45’s “role” in the Capitol Insurrection. Just in time to turn turtle and start afresh to turn Michigan red. That’s not particularly difficult given that Michigan, like neighbors Wisconsin. and Ohio, helped deliver 45 to victory in 2016.
But 45 is playing golf now and scheming about the electoral process.
So what is Betsy DeVos up to?
As The Intercept (October 14) reported recently, DeVos is funding attempts to overturn Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC). And the DeVos family has refused to disavow Kristina Karano, who has filed two lawsuits attempting to decertify Biden’s 2020 win in Michigan and who declared in March her candidacy for Michigan Secretary of State.
And DeVos was, as recently as August 11,‘contemplating’ running for Governor. She has declined, saying that the Office is ‘fit for another candidate.’ Nevertheless, as a testament to DeVos’s influence, incumbent Democrat Governor Gretchen Witmer is raising campaign funds on the prospect of DeVos being the Republican challenger.
Of course DeVos is distancing herself from 45.
Whining that ‘the Republican Party shouldn’t be a 1 person party,’ DeVos, unlike her colleagues, is playing the long game: 2024 is 3 years away and her race for Governor, should she decide to run, begins very soon.
And like the rest of us, DeVos has observed that proximity to 45 isn’t working out so well at the ballot box. Removed from the stench of 1/6 DeVos is freer to work the levers of elector and election politics. For Republicans in Michigan the ‘sweet spot’ in 2022 is further down the media food chain: electors and election oversight manipulation.
It takes money.
DeVos has it.
Fair elections are fraught in Michigan.
In the 2018 election cycle Michigan voters were asked to approve an independent state commission to remap Michigan’s electoral districts. The proposition passed and the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) is currently assembling proposed electoral district maps. A Republican effort to “file a federal lawsuit that challenged the commission’s eligibility requirements,” was dismissed by a federal district judge in July 2020, and an appellate court upheld the decision in May of this year.” (2)
Frustrated by failure at the litigation route, Republicans started targeting vote result certification. As explained by Marc Elias, founder of Democracy Docket (https://www.democracydocket.com/), there are three stages in the voting process: casting the ballot, counting the ballots, and certifying the result. Republicans in Michigan and other states are targeting the certifying stage.
‘What should be a signature on a document, a stamp of approval is now being held up, challenged and scrutinized.’ (3)
Elias pointed to a decertification “culture” in place in Michigan: during the 2020 election there were attempts to challenge Wayne County Election Board certification and the State Canvassing Board certification. Antrim County’s certification of the 2020 Election results was still being litigated in May, 2021. (4)
The source of DeVos’s wealth is an inheritance from the family business, a closely-held business-to-business sales corporation, Amway, based in Grand Rapids. A friend and fellow Michigander described Amway as “a Christian-laced pyramid scheme.”
Betsy and husband Dick DeVos with their considerable financial resources are trying to turn Michigan’s electoral systems into a Republican-laced pyramid scheme. (5)
A “pyramid scheme,” aka Ponzi scheme after the con artist, George Ponzi (6), is based on the premise of convincing one of the value of what one already has or conversely, what one will never get. Why is one taken in by this scheme? Quite simply because the promise of an outcome is more enticing than the risk that the desired outcome will not happen.
In the case of the Republicans’ election pyramid scheme, it’s based on the false premise that one will never get a fair election as long as Democrats are participating.
This is because the only fair elections are ones Republicans win. Whether Democrats win or not is not the point; it’s that Democrats are running. Which is why Republicans are convinced that only if their party controls the outcome then will voters be assured a fair election.
The “Big Lie” is merely a means to an end: control the outcome before the election takes place.
What’s fascinating and at the same time terrifying to watch is how the pyramid scheme tiers are ‘degrees of loyalty’ to those at the top which are continuously tested by performing increasingly outrageous acts. Those on the lower tiers can ascend only by affirming greater loyalty to those occupying the top tiers.
And the DeVos family is comfortable investing in the “Big Lie.”
It’s the family business.
2-Aketa Lacy, The Intercept, October 14, 2021
4-Marc Elias, 10/26 Nicole Wallace interview, MSNBC
5-See Chapter 6, “Its Lonely at the Top,” The Truth About Lies, (Aja Raden, 2021) for a recent sociological analysis of how pyramid structures have penetrated America’s cultural fabric.
6-George Ponzi popularized the Pyramid Scheme in 1920. William Franklin Miller is the first known perpetrator of the Pyramid Scheme in 1889. Raden, Aja op cit.