MI’s 3rd CD: “West Michigan Values” of Exclusion, or American Values of Equality and Justice for All?

I was disappointed with Steve Pestka’s announcement to run for the 3rd CD. While he promised jobs, he also repeated the “West Michigan Values” phrase a top Kent County Dem used when telling me and others to shut up. And he suggested he was running against extremists.

“I will fight for jobs and for West Michigan values, instead of for extreme political views from either side that lead us nowhere.”

Really, “extreme political views”? Is Pestka suggesting that Trevor Thomas, who worked for and was endorsed by MI’s moderate former Governor, Jennifer Granholm, is extreme?

Does Pestka think that working in bipartisan fashion to help men and women who have served their country win equal rights is “extreme”? Does he think fighting to help Eric Alva, who lost a leg in the opening hours of the Iraq War, be treated equally by the government is extreme? Here’s what Alva says in an endorsement of Trevor today:

My name is Eric Alva and I was the first American wounded in the war in Iraq. On March 21, 2003, just three hours into the invasion, I triggered a landmine.

I was thrown through the air, landing 15 feet away. As my fellow Marines were cutting away my uniform, I wondered why they weren’t removing my right boot. I would learn later that my leg was already gone. I served my country for 13 years as a Marine receiving the Purple Heart for my service.

I met Trevor Thomas while working with a coalition of bipartisan forces to repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Trevor was a key voice and strategist in repealing D.A.D.T. He helped me tell my story on World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer.

Trevor worked tireless on behalf of thousands of members of the military to create a more just and equal world.

The suggestion that someone who has fought for a “more just and equal world” is extreme and the invocation of “West Michigan values” precisely when people try to raise Steve Pestka’s past efforts to roll back women’s autonomy concerns me.

Make a case why you’re the better Democrat to represent the working men and women of Grand Rapids. Explain how you’ll help create jobs.

But I always thought Democrats fought for the American values of equality and justice. Folks keep telling me I haven’t lived in Grand Rapids long enough to know about West Michigan values. But if those values say fighting for equality for women and our service members is extreme, then I prefer good old-fashioned American values.

11 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    “west michigan values” is just run-of-the-mill american politcal rhetoric used to trigger an “us vs them” response in some voters.

    who the “us” really is and who the “them” really is, is never spelled out.

    where you have a candidate using such language, you usually have an empty suit and a head empty of new ideas to solve problems.

  2. rugger9 says:

    Silly DLC, it’s the beltway blindness causing them to do stupid things. Why they would run against a viable candidate baffles me, and really someone ought to ask Debbie why she signed off on this, because she had to.

    I thought she was smarter than that. This has triangulation, i.e. be “just left enough” written all over it, meaning that the DLC still thinks Grayson lost his seat fair and square, and all of the Blue Dogs that went down in 2010 were just aberrations. The reverse is true.

  3. Fydor Henry says:

    I moved to Grand Rapids in 1996 and I still struggle with some of the issues emptywheel talks about. Keep up the good work!

  4. Bob Schacht says:

    West Michigan values? You mean the kind that allowed Michigan’s governor to put Benton Harbor into receivership, and putting the entire government of the town into the hands of an appointed director who could nullify every action of its freely elected government? Is this the template to be exported around the state– to Detroit and every other area that customarily votes Democratic?

    Next thing I want to know is whether Benton Harbor will be allowed to vote in the next election, and whether they will be allowed to elect a new government? Or will the dictatorship of the Governor’s satrap be allowed to continue?

    And why hasn’t this been challenged in court? Don’t the people of Benton Harbor have standing? Or aren’t there any lawyers willing to take the case? Or are “Western Michigan values” dictating passive acceptance of the Governor’s dictat?

    I’m confused. I thought I was living in the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. Where am I?

    Bob in AZ

  5. TooFolkGR says:

    I don’t think Steve is even thinking about Trevor Thomas… I think he’s thinking ahead to the GE and talking about Amash. Typically Amash would have been to conservative for the voters of the old district, but he mobilized rubes that weren’t even participating before to crush Patrick Miles.

    The language is intended exclusively to appeal to moderates and even moderate Republicans (several high profile ones endorsed Democrat Patrick Miles in the last election). It has nothing to do with Thomas.

  6. emptywheel says:

    @TooFolkGR: “Instead of for extreme political views from either side.”

    So you’re suggesting that Peska thinks Amash is a raging right AND left winger?

    Uh huh.

  7. orionATL says:

    ah ha.

    now this is the ticket:


    what do this group’s results so far suggest:

    the same as the sudden infusion of large amounts of cash for advertising from some very wealthy supporters of some republican candidates suggested-

    that many voters take their political queues solely from teevee ads.

    how can any political system built on substantially ignorant voters be stable?

  8. orionATL says:


    candidates who try to slide into power are rarely candidates who will later have the interest or motivation to work hard to meet the needs of a district.

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