If you have watched any of Rick Snyder's election ads you will see that the governor fancies himself a leader, however, since being a leader isn't a title one can just bestow upon one's self the question should be what does the governor's record tell us about his leadership skills.
The governor has been blessed with a Republican controlled House and Senate yet he has routinely taken a back seat on important issues and struggles to rally support for the few ideas he supports.
The governor believes a second international crossing in Detroit is a key economic component to alleviating Michigan's slow recovery, however this idea was roundly rejected by Michigan Republicans. After stating "right to work" wasn't on his agenda the governor quickly changed his position using petulant "they started it" logic unbefitting of a top state official. Rick Snyder vetoed a voter ID law despite the broad support the bill had among his Republicans colleagues and constituents. The governor also rejected a flawed abortion restriction bill only to see the legislature cut him out of the process and pass it in spite of his objections.
Beyond that even those that support the governor still question his abilities as a leader. For example the Lansing State Journal editorial endorsing Rick Snyder said he "needs to show more direct leadership on a road funding plan", and "Michiganders need to see Snyder leading the Legislature to do the right thing, not hanging on the sidelines."
Some conservatives call President Obama the "dictator in chief" because they believe has ignored the constitution while also undermining the democratic process. Obviously few Americans view dictator and leader as being synonymous. With this in mind it should be noted Rick Snyder's actions could similarly be considered un-American. Appointing a Emergency Manager to take over Detroit from democratically elected officials is hardly upholding the ideals of democracy. Replacing an Emergency Manager law that the voters repealed just months prior certainly doesn't suggest the governor is up for sharing power. Making many laws referendum proof, eliminating the voter's best method of directly impacting bad laws, is the exact opposite of giving citizens a voice in their government. Establishing a furtive slush fund, financed by anonymous donors, that was used to pay for an "independent board" that influences public policy while being accountable to no one, is not a democratic principle.
Of course the democratic process isn't the only thing Rick Snyder has trampled. A Michigan judge said the governor's initial bankruptcy filing was unconstitutional. While other Rick Snyder supported ideas deemed unconstitutional include a "law requiring state employees to pay 4% of their income in order to remain in the state's defined benefit pension plan", the state ban on same sex marriages, and a law banning PLA's.
Additionally the Snyder administration held secret talks, comprised of mainly far right corporate donors and education advocates, looking for ways to bypass the voter approved constitutional ban on school vouchers. The governor claimed he was unaware of the meetings however he defended the gathering by saying "I don't want people to discourage people from being innovative and creative,". The question then becomes is it more disturbing that the governor was unaware of the potentially illegal actions of his staff or that he terms these attempts at breaking the law as innovation?
He has also stumbled in his leadership on other education reform ideas where the early results suggest the governor is finding it difficult to garner support for his policies. For example the governor believes the state should adopt Common Core Standards however the legislature rebuffed the governor and have cut all funding for implementing these new standards. This means over a three year span students will be taking three different standardized tests - tests that the governor believes should be used to determine the quality of teachers. The continued rejections from Republican elected officials makes this goal nearly impossible.
Rick Snyder has been an advocate for expanding charter schools in Michigan even though the data shows they don't outperform their public school counterparts. A recent exposé revealing a litany of issues with Michigan's Charter schools, including the misuse of public funds, forced the governor to propose greater transparency. Given that Michigan has more for profit charter schools than any other state in the nation the lack of oversight from the governor's office starts to looks like a tail wagging the dog situation. If not, it demonstrates a troubling level of naivete regarding the goals of for profit entities in the public education realm. Is Rick Snyder leading the charter school movement or is the charter school movement leading Rick Snyder?
The reality is the only efforts Rick Snyder has been able to successfully lead on were ones where the Republican legislature was already on board. The question for voter on Tuesday is do they want a governor who is just a lap dog for the Republican legislators and corporate interests because at this point Michigan Republicans clearly don't respect Rick Snyder's authority and if Democrats swing just five seats in the House the next governor will need to be more than just a figurehead.