More than 4,000 people crowded Cobo Center in downtown Detroit on Saturday, February 11, as the Michigan Democratic Party held its first state convention of the Trump era.
The convention officially opened at 9 am, but by a few minutes past 8, a long line of idling cars had already accumulated outside, waiting to pull into the center’s parking facilities. Once inside, many party members waited in line more than an hour to register.
A feeling of urgency dominated the proceedings. Until last November, Michigan, once a stronghold of labor Democrats, had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Trump’s narrow victory capped a decade of growing Republican dominance in Michigan’s state government, as well as the widening social and economic divides evident in the mass closures of Detroit schools and the poisoning of Flint, both under state-imposed “emergency management” that stripped power from local elected officials in those majority African-American cities.
As the bold stickers distributed by Flint Congressman (and likely 2018 candidate for Governor) Dan Kildee suggested, many Michigan Democrats are ready to “FIGHT BACK.” The party’s dire straits have also energized a range of activists, many supporters of Bernie Sanders, trying to take on what they see as the Democratic “establishment.” The convention represented their first major bid for a voice in the party organization. Continue reading “Michigan Democrats Fired Up, Still Divided”