Opinion | We want to work with Gov. Whitmer. She chose partisanship instead.

Lee Chatfield is Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives

Throughout America’s history, we have seen our fair share of crises and pandemics. We’ve battled through them all and, in the end, we’ve always come out stronger as a nation. That’s because Americans are resilient. We’re creative. We’re tough. We don’t quit. We always find a way. When we stick together, we win. History has proven that.

To be sure, the strength of our democratic system is tested the most in these times. But instead of succumbing to extreme partisanship that would destroy and divide, we have always adhered to the principles of governance that our American system was built upon – liberty, justice, equality and hope – and used them to unite us and lead us through. It has been our tried and true path to a better future.

The challenges posed by the coronavirus are our most recent test. We are at a crossroads, and all public officials need to decide whether we are truly all in this together. Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, it shouldn’t matter. We can either follow the core democratic process and the Constitution that led our great state to this point, or we can ignore it for mere convenience. The decision is up to us.

For me, the decision is easy. Despite the unprecedented challenge we’re facing, our laws and our system of checks and balances must be followed. Regardless of the situation, the same values that propelled our state and country to success in the past can ensure victory over this virus.

At times, ranging from the post-Civil War era to the Great Depression to Sept. 11, 2001, Michigan's Legislature and the U.S. Congress have partnered with the governor and president to provide the healing and corrective actions necessary for America to remain a beacon of hope for all. It might not have been easy, but they found a way. Through the toughest of times, our unique system of government worked. 

There’s no good reason why our democratic system should be cast aside now. This virus isn’t playing politics, and neither should we. Now is the time to work together. We’ve done it so many times in our state’s history, and we should do it again. 

But for some reason, our governor is pursuing a different path.

The Legislature offered to extend the state of emergency so long as the next stay-at-home order is enacted through bipartisan legislation rather than unilateral executive order. Rather than accept our offer of cooperation, the governor chose a legal battle. And our state is worse off because of it. 

Our governor is admittedly in a tough spot. I truly believe she’s acting with the very best of intentions. But sincerity of heart doesn’t justify unlawful actions. The tough decisions that need to be made to lead our state through this current challenge cannot be made alone. The Legislature, as in crises past, stands ready and willing to partner with her once again to lead our state forward. 

I recall a governor who ran on building bridges. I recall a governor who in her inaugural speech hailed former Governors Milliken and Williams for embracing bipartisanship and setting a standard of cooperation. Well, we in the Legislature are ready and willing to partner with that same governor.

It’s times like this that test our state and nation the most. The fabric of civility that unites our society is thinner than ever. The rule of law and the strength of our democratic institutions are all that keep it from tearing. Instead of abandoning them, let's stay committed to the core values that have served us so well for hundreds of years.

We are ready to restore, uphold, and utilize the democratic process that makes our state and nation great. And now we are asking the governor to join us.

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Concerned Citizen
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 5:08pm

Now they want "checks and balances"? Where was the desire when Trump was tromping all over that process?

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 5:34pm

I stand with the Governor.

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 5:41pm

Seeing Mr. Chatfield got caught carrying a loaded gun onto an airplane, I’d say his credibility is questionable, at best.

Kevin Grand
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 6:21pm

Speaker Chatfield, quit playing nice with Gov. Karen!

SHE made to call to grab power (and hold onto it long after it had expired).

SHE made the call to issue a litany of contradictory and confusing "orders" further compounding that problem.

SHE made the call to utterly destroy Michigan's economy.

Start standing up for Michiganians for a change and focus on fixing the destruction her little power trip has caused!

Dave Fenner
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 7:08am

Vote Blue

Bobby S
Mon, 05/18/2020 - 10:33am

When are you democrats going to get your head out of your ass and breathe?

Marty Spaulding
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 1:07pm

Grab power ? Under statutory authority and following scientific recommendations.

Contradictory and confusing orders ? Only if you have reading comprehension issues.

Destroy Michigans economy ? I think the virus did that.

Do you have anytbhing remotely accurate to offer here ?

Kevin Grand
Sun, 05/17/2020 - 8:48am

Authority which expired May 1st.

Lawn Furniture sales - not okay. Lottery tickets sales- okay. Buying seeds - not okay. Buying suds - okay. Opening Mom-and-Pop stores/shops - not okay. Opening big box stores - okay. Paying someone to mow my lawn while I stay inside my house - not okay. Mowing my own lawn - okay.

Severally curtailing your income and exponentially increasing your spending because your "solution" entails trying ideas which haven't been properly field tested for their efficacy (i.e. "social distancing" & compulsory house arrest) were more directly responsible for that.

Give me something harder, Mr. Spaulding.

I'm not even breaking a sweat shooting down the governor's talking points here.

Diane J
Sun, 05/17/2020 - 12:15pm

You might sound like you were more intelligent about the subject if you knew the Gov.'s first name.

Kevin Grand
Mon, 05/18/2020 - 6:38am

Much like the "Slick Rick" moniker fit the previous governor's duplicitous nature, "Gov. Karen" fits the current one to a "T".

abe bubush
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 6:27pm

Chatfield is rightfully irrelevant in an actual crisis.

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 7:55pm

It's shameful Chatfield is taking this route. He and Mike Shirkey have not been cooperative or helpful. They opted to attack rather than work with Governor Whitmer. They've decided that the people at risk are 'okay to die' because the most at risk just simply aren't their constituents. (white privilege).

Their stupid lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer money. The law is clear - and now they want to change it because (whine) "it's not fair, that woman shouldn't have power." Well, it's pretty clear: the law gave the Governor that power.

Dave Lindhout
Fri, 05/15/2020 - 9:57pm

" But sincerity of heart doesn’t justify unlawful actions."

For me, sincerity means a lot, particularly in our current political climate. I'm not qualified to judge the legality of the actions of my governor, but I'm impressed with the evolution of rules and mandates. It appears to me to be a democratic process so far. Don't politicize tough decisions.

Maureen Martin
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 8:20am

I think you should have a side-by-side fact check on this column.

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 8:53am

Absolutely! As soon as I saw the headline I thought, wow, seems a bit irresponsible of Bridge to even be running this. I knew it’d be a litany of distractions, mischaracterizations and downright lies. And it is.

butch krumenaker
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 10:47am

So since the republicans were left out of the "circle" they are crying wolf ! And as is the republican way, bring suit so we can have are "two cents"! Where was the republicans when Flint residents were poisoned.....no where to be found...……..where were the republicans when the roads needed fixing...…….no where to be found...……..where were the republicans when this virus came...……going to court because their feelings got hurt! Hey Chatfield watch the Governor....THIS IS CALLED LEADERSHIP , not political grandstanding!

Stephen Kane
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 10:54am

This is the same congressman who attempted to board a plane with a loaded hand gun. When caught his response was "I forgot" I had it. Please excuse me if I question his judgment on handling the state's response to the COVID-19 virus. His comment about the history of congressional republican cooperation with democrat governors is at best more forgetfulness on his part. The actions of the current republican congressional majority have proven over the past year and four months they will oppose the governor on every serious issue. Once the non partisan committee has redrawn the state's voting districts maybe we can have a balanced congress that will work with duly elected governors of either party. This op ed by Mr. Chatfield is at best disingenuous but carefully read, indicates more partisan obstruction of our duly elected governor.

butch krumenaker
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 11:01am

So Whitmer hurt the republicans feelings....boo... hoo….. Chatfield! Watch and learn what "LEADERSHIP" looks like! In the old days, the parties would work together for the CITIZENS...now it is if you don't let us play, we are going to take you to court! Where was the republicans in Flint when the water was bad...no where to be found until the media got into it, and were has the republicans been on the roads....raising fees for the roads, BUT WHERE IS THE MONEY....and they never got fixed ! The republicans in Michigan believe in few things...that redistricting is there constitutional right, that voter suppression is their God given right, and that they know how to govern! Chatfield, grow a pair and someday even you, may learn what LEADERSHIP looks like...…….and for God sake, quit taking the easy way out and go to court!

Linda Elzinga
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 11:35am

I am terribly disappointed in you Lee. You and your cronies refused to extend the stay home stay safe order. Our governor was left no options except to use other laws to protect the citizens of Michigan.
I was raised by a minister also. As a child I was told “you go to hell for lying, the same as stealing”
Along with the Michigan Constitution, you should re read the Ten Commandments.

Marty Spaulding
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 1:05pm

Who "chose" partisanship ? That would be Lee Chatterbox.

The governor is operating under statutory authority.

It is the Michigan GOP that has sought to politicize this.
It is the Michigan GOP that has its own elected legislative members attending the anti-stay-at-home rallies in Lansing.
It is the Michigan GOP that has belittled, harassed, litigated, bullied and stood in the way of following the course recommended by the CDC every step of the way.

Lee Chatterbox .... pot meet kettle. Check the mirror for partisan malfeasance, sir.

Barb Z-B
Sat, 05/16/2020 - 3:50pm

If we voters don't recall the history of Republican intentions to control Michigan politics, including gerrymandering, the lame duck session of Rick Snyder, or when the republican legislature asked Whitmer to voluntarilly give up her gubernatorial power (through their legislative actions), Chatfield "might" almost sound sincere and concerned. However, putting his statements in the context of the republican broader actions gives truth to the dishonesty and lies he (and the other republicans) tells. And how about this latest lawsuit?
I don't trust the republican legislative actions in their non-partisan claims. None of us should. How can the republican legislature expect Michiganders to trust their intentions ever again when they have tried to prevent safe voting, let alone watch them encourage rifle-toting protestors to stand "over the legislature". And that's only what we recall from "recent history".

Chatfield, stop your caterwaulling and accept that a Democratic woman is your boss! Michigan voters put her in office!
Whitmer didn't pick this partisan divide, you did!

Sat, 05/16/2020 - 6:49pm

Governor Whitmer seems to have started a great American movement against government overreach. No other American governor has been able to irritate such a broad cross section of her constituents.

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 9:18am

She sure has hell hasn't irritated me. I like a governor who cares about our people more than their personal financial gains.
After that mess Snyder, we have an intelligent, caring, knowledgable, female; and as alwayss, the rethugs are mad and having temper tantrums.

Sat, 05/16/2020 - 6:53pm

As far as I can see, your followers have decided that the Pandemic is a Fake and they should not abide by any rules from the Governor. Just like Republican Wisconsin and South Dakota, those states are open and Covid cases are ramping up. Knowing what your participation in the process is going to be, thanks to the lawsuits, we will be open and dying if the Supreme Court short circuits the Governor. She has done a great job, especially with the huge amount of cases in Southeast Michigan. One of the worst spots in the country. Nationally your party has botched everything associated with the virus. We are the "greatest" in deaths, infections, and ill preparedness. If you do anything, get together a group of Epidemiologists from the state and let them chart our course.

A Yooper
Sun, 05/17/2020 - 8:12am

Same old vomitus from Mr. Mealey Mouth.

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 9:02am

Bipartisan cooperation is only a thing when Democrats are in charge, Mr. Chatfield.

Diane J
Sun, 05/17/2020 - 12:21pm

As far as partisanship is concerned the Republicans have certainly become masters of it doing everything they can to stop ANY positive actions by the Gov. especially since the pandemic included more states including ours.
Just because the fool in the White House says it will go away we MUST protect and help the people in our state who need it for something besides those top income folks filling their wallets.

Sun, 05/17/2020 - 1:36pm

Anyone who thinks the Repubs want to work with Whitmer or any Democrat has their head in the sand. Remember it was the Repubs who have and will continue to try to strip power from the Governor.

John Morrissey
Sun, 05/17/2020 - 9:28pm

She needs to face the music and admit her poor administering.

Lewis Resnick
Mon, 05/18/2020 - 10:25am

Come on , Lee. Your comments exacerbate partisanship, not lessen it.

Mon, 05/18/2020 - 11:44am

Who invited the Alt-right, and militia to terrorize....not thinking you intended to "conduct a reasonable" conversation.

Renee Thurston
Mon, 05/18/2020 - 12:29pm

The Governor has done a great job keeping Michigan safe!!! Just because a few people are ok putting themselves and families at risk, don't mean the rest of us are. I'm 54 years old Mr. Chatfield and your wrong; we have never been through a global pandemic or anything close. She is trying to save lives and listen to the scientist. She bent the curve and will open when it's safe. The only one's fighting it are the one's with partisan agendas. How much is a life worth. According to the polls 76% of the residents agree with her. Why don't you help during this crisis instead of hindering it. She shouldn't have to go to court to save lives. Shame on all of you.

Patty Rasmussen
Mon, 05/18/2020 - 4:53pm

I just read the replies. They represent the partisan nature you refer to perfectly. I can't disagree with them more. I know that there is a handful of radical protesters, that "should" have worn masks and practiced social distancing..there will always be some rebels (on both ends of the spectrum), but most people are and have complied. All you have to do is go and see for yourself. The governor, in my opinion, is not sincere whatsoever in her decision making to shut down businesses and force people to stay inside. Her mocking tone, going on the partisan TV shows to "make fun of" the protesters..rather than empathisize makes it quite obvious. Anyone who denies her partisan attitude is either in denial or straight out lying. Sand bagging is when instead of having a logical debate you throw up things that have nothing to do with the current problem/disagreement. I see that all over in these responses. I have been compliant like everyone I know, but when I have a right to question where the "science" /facts are coming from. Anyone who's taken statistics knows that research results can be skewed. We will find out once it's over who is paid off by who. Sadly, greed enters in and crisis like this are exploited for financial gain. It definitely won't be people losing their lives and livelihoods, those with friends and family dying alone or with a nurse because their family is not allowed to be with them. Even "good intentions" can go out of control, thus checks and balances are ALWAYS a good idea, regardless of political persuasion.

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 1:33pm

Is Mr. Chatfield’s intent to bring us together or to cause division and to deceive the naive?
Romans 16:17-18
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.