Remarks of Regent Michael J. Behm


Regent Weiser, after you called our state’s governor, attorney general and Secretary of State “witches,” worse yet, you stated the GOP needs to make sure “they are ready for the burning at the stake.” Regarding Republican Reps. Upton and Meijer, because your constituents felt as though the congressmen were not loyal enough to the last president and should be removed, you replied, “Other than assassination, I have no other way other than voting them out.”

Not only are these statements dangerous, abhorrent and incite violent behavior, they serve to suppress Michigan citizens from exercising their vote and their right to vote and are a form of voter intimidation. Instead of intimidating people not to vote, come up with ideas that folks can support and vote for. Rather than saying what you said in these two instances, you should have followed Sen. McCain or President Bush’s examples and instead of inciting violence and attempting to intimidate people, you should have corrected people’s false beliefs.

It is in this instance where I believe if you insist on serving as a regent and a chair of the Michigan Republican Party, you have an irreconcilable conflict of interest. I would like to remain apolitical at this time, but you have injected politics into this discussion. Instead of coming up with ideas as to why Michigan’s citizens should vote for your party’s candidates, your party is focused on taking away their right and their ability to vote.

Here at the University of Michigan, you have endowed the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies. Thank you for doing so. But on its website, it says it promotes scholarship to better understand the broad historical, political, economic, and societal conditions under which democracies emerge — and autocracies endure. With this in mind, and with absolutely no proof of any voter fraud in Michigan be it under Republican or Democrat control, members of your party last week filed 39 bills that serve to suppress and silent voters. This is how autocracies and authoritarian regimes take hold. Freedoms of citizens to express themselves are eroded and eventually disappear.

In the height of irony, while you, through your words and your party’s actions act to exclude Michigan’s citizens from the democratic process, the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies is convening an emergency roundtable discussion next Tuesday from 12 to 1:30 p.m. Its title: Submerging Democracy in America’s States.

Please come to terms with your actions as chair of a political party, realize they are incompatible with your fiduciary duty to the University of Michigan and look for ways to increase the exchange of ideas in our great state. Act not to suppress votes, but convince more Michiganders to engage in our democratic process.


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