Yet again, Michiganders are getting screwed over by the politicians — a couple weeks ago, John McCain’s camp turned its back on the state of Michigan. You could argue it’s a tactical decision, you could say it’s for the best, but, ultimately, there’s no denying it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. With hardly any reservations, McCain and his cronies have shut away the significant portion of Michiganders who support him and moved on to what they deem to be more essential states.

What a surprise. In January, the Democrats did their part in minimizing the importance of this state with the debacle that was the Michigan Democratic primary, and now, nine months later, the Republicans are doing the same by literally retreating. Things have come full circle for Michigan, but not in the way we would like.

Through all of this, however, there has been one significant voice of reason sounding from the trenches of the Right. In an interview with Fox News, vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said this of the McCain camp’s decision to pull out of Michigan: “I read that this morning, and I fired off a quick e-mail and said, ‘Oh come on, you know, do we have to? Do we have to call it there?’”

While it’s telling that the McCain camp didn’t even bother to share its plans with Palin, and I hardly think she would make much of a difference without McCain by her side, I still want her here. In fact, I would love to just hear her oft-imitated voice addressing the students somewhere on campus.

But more than that, I want the problems in this state to be treated with the urgency and attentiveness with which they should be. It’s a travesty McCain has conceded this state. Under the auspices of a Democratic governor, Michigan’s economy has sagged to an incredible low, with manufacturing employment dropping considerably over the course of the decade and the number of foreclosures increasing across the state.

McCain’s decision to pull out was influenced by the significant lead Obama has taken, especially since the Wall Street crisis. No doubt many Republicans in Michigan are defending his decision. But this notion that forgetting Michigan and turning to other states McCain’s campaign will benefit in the long run is just astounding. This is the attitude a presidential candidate should take toward one of the most troubled states in the country? And Republican Michiganders would rather see him turn his energy to Ohio than to their own state? I don’t get it.

Meanwhile, you can say what you want about Palin. For the past month or so I’ve remained largely indifferent to her, though I have been both repulsed and amused (in equal measures) by how much this governor from Alaska has been degraded and demonized in the media. One particularly vivid example springs to mind: In an article in Rolling Stone, contributor Matt Taibbi called her “a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States,” likening her to the dream girl of a “fat fucking pig who pins ‘Country First’ buttons on his man titties and chants ‘U-S-A! U-S-A!’ at the top of his lungs.” Wow.

Taibbi’s venomous rant aside, the most obvious point of concern with Palin is her lack of experience. She’s often seen merely as the embodiment of the cynical, manipulative and pandering tactics of the McCain camp. But at least the woman sees Michigan as more than a bunch of percentage points.

This may sound banal, or naïve. But this isn’t so much about partisan politics as it is about Michigan itself, and the people from this state who have undergone incredible hardships over the past few years. The politicians — Democrats, Republicans, whoever — have the responsibility to come here and talk to them. So why not invite Palin to speak on campus if she wants to come? Her presence wouldn’t make much of an impact in the long run (though it would cause a raucous here, which I would enjoy), and the Democrats probably have Michigan in the bag. But, nonetheless, she, like her running mate, should be expected to address the issues that matter to the people in this state. Because ultimately, they’re the issues that matter to Americans in general right now.

Like her or not, Sarah Palin has at least recognized this. She has extended her hand to Michiganders and said, “Your state matters.” Political views aside, we — students, professors, Ann Arborites, whoever — should acknowledge her and say, “Yeah, you’re right.”

Brandon Conradis can be reached at brconrad@umich.edu.

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