Our Politics

Many believe, because of the mess we are in and term limits, that the 2010 elections are particularly pivotal for the state’s future. I’m sure I will be writing about the elections regularly in these posts. So I thought it made sense to disclose our political orientation.

Several months ago an article in the Muskegon Chronicle called us a left of center think tank. Its the first time I can remember that the press has referred to us as an organization with an identifiable ideology.

Its not a label that troubles me. I’m not one of those who believes being tagged as liberal or progressive is the kiss of death. I’ve always believed that ideas matter most. Ultimately good ideas win.

I do believe though that the Muskegon Chronicle got it wrong. On some issues we are left of center. Certainly on the issue that has been central to the political debate in the state for more than a decade: taxes and the size of government. But on other issues we probably should be labeled right of center. Issues like charter schools, free trade, the need for structural cuts in state spending and reductions in compensation for state and local government employees and retirees.

But what characterizes us most is not where we fit in the political spectrum. Its not left or right of center; but future, rather than past or present. We were started in 1991 with a fundamental belief that for Michigan to be successful economically we needed to make the transition from the Industrial to what was then called the Information Age. That core belief that what made us prosperous in the past, won’t in the future is what drives all our work.

What most ails Michigan is not that we are too partisan – we are – but that both parties and their supporters are primarily focused on recreating a successful factory-based Michigan. Not possible! So we have been consistently critical of both parties approach to growing the Michigan economy.

Rather than a need to move to the center on all the old fights that still consume us, we most need a new debate – with both the left and right participating – on how we get Michigan aligned with – rather than resisting – the realities of a flattening world.

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Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.