Weber on Snyder

In an intensely scrutinized decision as the state of Michigan approaches election day, Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that is quite controversial to some citizens. Snyder signed into law House Bill 5606, which prohibits Tesla Motors from selling their cars

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder

in Michigan directly to buyers but rather through a network of dealers. Ultimately, Tesla can still sell their vehicles in the state of Michigan but they must do it through a third-party which makes things much more difficult. In a state known for our automotive industry– namely companies with the name General Motors and not Tesla– Snyder is being criticized by many people for signing this bill so close to election day. From the lecture of Weber on Politics as a Vocation, how would Snyder stack up as a politician in Weber’s eyes when it comes to his decision on this bill?

In a state with such a large automotive presence it is no secret that the companies in that industry have a large lobbying presence particularly within the state. Many people speculate that a large part of the motivation for Snyder and other legislators to sign this bill was to avoid negative advertisements from Michigan automakers and dealerships prior to the coming election. Others were not pleased with how the legislation regarding Tesla was put into the bill and also the addition coming so late. Even U of M law professor Daniel Crane weighed in on this issue, stating “This is an embarrassment for the State of Michigan and democracy… When nobody was watching the dealers slipped this language into the bill, and told Snyder to pass it so they would have an advantage over Tesla in the future.”

In the eyes of Weber, a good politician is someone who acts with ethics of responsibility– keeps a clear head while making decisions, makes future-oriented decisions, and makes these decisions for the good of the people. While I don’t necessarily agree with what Snyder did in this instance, by these definitions Snyder is not entirely in the wrong. According to Weber, one of the key qualities of a good politician is being able to make decisions for the good of their people. While automakers not named Tesla operate in the state of Michigan, this bill could be seen as something that protects jobs for people in the state. If it is much tougher for people to buy a Tesla, consumers in Michigan are much more likely to buy a car made by an automaker that operates in-state. If more people are buying cars from companies in-state, that would most likely protect jobs of the people Snyder makes decisions for. By Weber’s definition, Snyder could definitely be considered a good politician in some ways.

On the other hand, Weber defines a bad politician as someone who acts with ethics of conviction– being absolute in their decisions, and being act-oriented opposed to future-oriented when making decisions. I believe that this decision by Snyder would classify him as a bad politician in the eyes of Weber. While there are some things that are rational about this bill, I agree with what Crane said regarding the issue. Because of the timing and circumstances of how the bill was changed, it seems that Snyder was making an act-oriented decision that would help him and his party in the upcoming election. Ultimately, the bill doesn’t do enough for the people in our state to be considered future-oriented and for the good of the people.

One thought on “Weber on Snyder

  1. Snyder’s decision was not in my opinion the right one and I also do not believe it helped him to be reelected. Sure, the automotive companies such as General Motors would have been hurt by allowing Tesla to sell directly but no large companies like them would shift support to a Democratic candidate by hurting Snyder. Voters may also view this move as Snyder favoring big business which could severely hurt him with moderate voters. The bill itself should have not been signed but Snyder likely had other reasons to sign it.


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