Last week, I spoke to a candidate for statewide office who lamented that she hadn’t been able to get out much among the people or keep up on important policy issues because she had to spend all day, every day on the phone, raising money. I also saw a candidate in a hotly contested congressional primary who told me the same thing.
Let’s say there had been a Michigan Civil Rights Commission in 1961, and it announced that it was going to start investigating claims of discrimination against black people. Undoubtedly that would have met considerable opposition, since there was, as yet, no legal basis to try to prevent someone from hiring you, or renting to you, because you were black. I don’t know how successful their efforts would have been. Probably not very, at least at first. They would have risked verbal attacks, or worse. But I know that we would look back on them today as heroes. And their efforts might have gotten us thinking about open housing and employment anti-discrimination acts sooner than we did. Well, something like that happened yesterday. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission voted to start taking claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. We now live in a crazy parallel universe where you can marry someone of the same sex anywhere in Michigan, but you can still be
I’ve been asked to speak to a group in Mount Clemens today about the difference between Republicans and Democrats. That may sound easy to answer, but it’s not. To an extent, however, the difference is easier to define than fifty years ago. Today, the split is largely ideological. Back then, the differences were, to a large extent, hereditary and economic. Voters in blue-collar, working-class areas like Warren or Flint voted overwhelmingly Democratic. White- collar and academic areas like Birmingham and even Ann Arbor, believe it or not, voted overwhelmingly for Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy. My own father, who was one step up from poor, voted Republican partly because he had grown up in the South and hated the then-racist policies of that region’s Democrats. When he became governor, he championed environmental causes, women’s issues, and state aid to Detroit – all things anathema to most Republicans today. Ten years or so ago, I asked him why he just didn’t switch parties. He had
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