If you saw what former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm saw, if you watched trickle-down economics ravage your state's economy and manufacturing sector, you'd agree: The choice we face over the next 24 days isn't just a question between two candidates or two parties. It's a moral choice about the direction we want the country to go. Look no further than the small town of Greenville, Michigan, which until a few years ago was home to 8,000 people and an Electrolux refrigerator factory that employed 2,700 people—"a one-company town."
When Electrolux announced that they were going to shut the plant and send those jobs to Mexico, Granholm gathered everyone with a stake to sit down with the Electrolux team. "Everyone put what they had on the table," she says. "We put our chips in a pile, and slid our pile over to the Electrolux management. We said we'd give you zero taxes for 20 years, we'd help you build a new factory, the union offered concessions that were unprecedented. They took our list and came back after 17 minutes. They said it was the most generous offer they had ever seen, but there is nothing we could do to compensate for the fact that they could pay Mexican workers $1.57 an hour." So Electrolux left Greenville.
The governor attended the community's "last supper" the month the final Greenville-made refrigerator rolled off the assembly line. She met a man whose story was to become sadly familiar. "Governor, I'm 48 years old," he told her. "I have worked at this factory for 30 years. My father worked at this factory. My grandfather worked at this factory. All I know is how to build refrigerators. Tell me, who will ever hire me?"
That question has been asked by workers across the country, says Granholm at a Gotta Vote bus stop in Mount Vernon, Virginia. But although it was the end of the line for the Electrolux factory, there was a second chapter for manufacturing workers when President Obama came into office. "He saw what was happening to the auto industry, and he intervened to save it. He said that we are not going to abide by this trickle-down, laissez-faire, hands-off philosophy. He said, I'm going to go to bat and create and keep jobs in America." Today, the American auto industry is back and stronger than it's been in decades. Manufacturing jobs are returning to our shores and being created at rates we haven't seen since the 1990s.
We've come too far to turn around, Granholm says, and we will turn around if we elect Mitt Romney. "The architect of the hands-off policy was trickle-down George W. Bush and his progeny. But Mitt Romney has the same philosophy—he won't go to bat to keep a manufacturing sector in this country. This is a man who grew up in Michigan, a man whose father headed an auto company in Michigan, a man whose dad was a governor of Michigan. When we were on our knees begging for a bridge loan, he stabbed us in the back."
That's why, for Granholm, the choice between the man who saved the auto industry and the man who wanted to let it go bankrupt is so personal. "I'm here to say to you, Virginians, on behalf of not just Michigan but people like the guy who said, 'Who's ever going to hire me?' that what you are doing is not just for your state. It's for the entire nation. The importance of Virginia cannot be overstated. No pressure, but I hope you feel the eyes and the hopes of the nation are on you. We all so want you to be successful. Bring it home on Election Day."