The other day Jacob Wheeler of the Glen Arbor Sun spoke to Governor William T. Milliken about GOP Candidate for Governor Rick Snyder, the state of American political discourse and the Republican party today. We’ve got the first couple questions here and you can read the rest in Bill Milliken, Michigan’s moderate:
Glen Arbor Sun: My grandparents in Oceana County are lifelong Republicans. Grandpa was County Commissioner and a delegate to the 1972 Republican National Convention that re-elected Richard Nixon. They consider themselves â€œMilliken Republicansâ€. I also have good friends in northern Michigan who have voted Republican most of their lives but chose Obama in 2008, yet still consider themselves Milliken Republicans. What, in your mind, is a â€œMilliken Republicanâ€?
Bill Milliken: That’s a question that requires some thought and probably a lengthy discussion. Let me say that I believe in a progressive moderate Republican party, and I owe my life to that kind of thinking, that kind of approach. I believe government serves an important and necessary purpose, and can be a positive influence in the lives of men and women, not only in Michigan but across the country. Unlike the kind of approach that’s being used by the Tea Party people and others, who feel that we have too much government, I don’t feel that way. I feel that a party like the Republican Party can be a moderate, progressive influential influence in the lives of people. That doesn’t mean that one can’t criticize government or improve it. But the Republican Party which I served as governor for 14 years has been that kind of moderate, progressive, concerned and compassionate institution. I hope that it will in the future continue to be that kind of public institution.
Sun: What major changes have we seen in the political discourse â€” in particular between the two major political parties â€” since the height of your political career?
Milliken: I think we have seen a kind of ugliness and meanness in political discourse in recent years, which is not to say that we did not have some of that while I served in the governor’s chair. But it has seemed to increase. Part of the Republican Party today, notably in Washington, feels that its mission â€” as President Obama has repeatedly and eloquently stated â€” its mission is to defeat the President and his programs and his policies. To the extent that the party has done that, I think the party is wrong, and it is a dangerous turn.