Granholm Mulhern Associates

SALON: Jennifer Granholm’s plan to fix America

The former Michigan governor bears globalization’s worst scars, but still itches for a fight. Watch out, Rick Perry

By Andrew Leonard

Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, has a story she likes to tell about the Chinese. Granholm visited China in March. At one meet-and-greet, a Chinese official buttonholed her and asked when the U.S. was going to implement a national energy policy. By her own account, Granholm hemmed and hawed, mentioning the rise of the Tea Party and the inability of the current Congress “to get its act together.”

Granholm and I are sitting in a corner office of a building on the University of California at Berkeley campus, where Granholm is spending a year of “sabbatical.” She leans over her desk, looks me in the eye, and demonstrates how the the Chinese official rubbed his hands together like a kid unable to contain his glee right before unwrapping Christmas presents. “‘Take your time,’ he tells me,” says Granholm. “‘Take your time.'”

She shakes her head as if in disbelief at how short-sighted the American political establishment has become. Her point is obvious, and oft-repeated during the course of our interview: In a globalized world, the U.S. economy will not thrive unless we get serious about targeting strategically important sectors of the economy. The rest of the world is playing the economic development game for keeps, while the U.S. seems willing to abandon the board all together.

“We operate as though we are not in a global economy,” says Granholm. “In theory, free markets and laissez faire make perfect sense, but in practice, our competitors are eating us for lunch.”

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