Detroit Today: What you need to know about this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference

Organizers of this year’s conference say the focus will be on the word “and,” in an effort to create solutions across different ideologies.

Polarization is a major problem in our politics. People don’t just disagree about the issues — they disagree about what the issues actually are.

But people still say that they want collaboration and for their representatives to work across the aisle. This is part of the purpose of the upcoming 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference, which is set to begin May 31, with attendees discussing and putting forth their best policy ideas for our state.

The event will feature contributions ranging from national figures like Liz Cheney, Mark Cuban and Fareed Zakaria, to state and local policymakers and business leaders. The theme this year will focus on “the power of and” — inviting a dialogue on why the Detroit Regional Chamber believes Michigan needs an “and” approach instead of an “either or” for its policy solutions.

Listen: What does collaboration and bipartisanship look like in 2023?


J.D. Rackey is the Director of Legislative Studies at the Sunwater Institute where he leads its Congressional Reform program. He says bipartisanship is necessary right now in order to accomplish anything in federal politics.

“I argue that because of the slim majorities and flipping back of chamber controls in various legislatures,” says Rackey, “it means that tight majorities incentivize tough fights but they also require bipartisan buy-in to, sort of, get legislation done.”

Matt Elliott is the President of Bank of America Michigan and Chair for the 2023 Mackinac Policy Conference. He says both purpose and profit are important to being successful at Bank of America.

“You can do things that seem to be in conflict with each other but are important to drive your long-term success,” says Elliott.

Sandy Baruah is the President and CEO of Detroit Regional Chamber. He says collaboration is key to making improvements on Michigan’s biggest issues.

“The either-or approach that our political environment is in now… really isn’t conducive to stability and progress,” says Baruah. “We are not making progress on some of our biggest opportunities and issues.”

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