politics

Twenty years ago, radio in Michigan was dominated by WJR-AM, which had the strongest signal around. You could get it nearly anywhere in the state. The station’s signature personality was the legendary J.P. McCarthy, who was an amazing interviewer.

Politically, I suspect he was conservative, but it was hard to tell; he interviewed politicians of all flavors with decency, courtesy and wit. But then, J.P. suddenly died.

Today, he has been succeeded by the sort of ideological slashers who have given talk radio a bad name.

John Pollack says it's important to tell true analogies from false ones.
user: RCB / Flickr

We use analogies every day. Yet we rarely think about them. They're just part of our vocabulary and our speech. 

But for John Pollack, analogies are not something to be ignored.

Pollack is the author of the new book Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connection, Spark Innovation and Sell Our Greatest Ideas. He believes analogies often have big consequences on how we view the world.

For example, Pollack says there are a lot of analogies that ring true that actually turn out not to be true. 

Pollack mentions the case of the "domino theory" President Eisenhower used in 1954.

The analogy convinced Americans that if they didn't intervene in Vietnam, democratic governments across Southeast Asia would topple like dominoes.

While the analogy translated something complex and far away into everyday language, it falsified the situation: When U.S. forces withdrew from Hanoi in defeat, the neighboring countries didn't topple like dominoes.

Television remote control
user ppdigital / morguefile

Thursday is the day we talk Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics.

This week is all about the political ads inundating the state. We talked about how ads are used to make the case for a candidate, the flood of ads on television, and whether voters are paying attention or tuning out.

Here's our conversation:

Hillary Clinton speaks in Louisville.
User: UMWomen / Flickr

We'd like to believe that women, after all of these years, are treated equally in politics, but, as we know, that's not always the case.

A recent Detroit News column by writer Laura Berman has some examples of what she calls "a continuing snark campaign" that happens when women candidates run.

Berman’s column is titled "Candidate might dispute notion that it helps to be female." She talks about how women candidates are often subtly undermined.

Both major political parties have their state conventions this week. Republicans are meeting in Novi; Democrats in Lansing.

There’s always an element of the high school reunion about these conventions; people, including the press, look forward to them in part because they get to see old friends.

However, there are also squabbles.

Most of this year’s focus has been on the Republican gathering, where Tea Party insurgents are attempting to throw Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley off the ticket.

Democrats, however, have their own struggle behind the scenes.

In case you are new to this, these conventions actually nominate most of each party’s candidates for statewide office.

Theresa Thompson / Flickr

The curtain is closing on baby boomers, as the so-called "millennial generation" is taking up a larger share of the electorate. This voting block surpasses seniors who are eligible to vote.

But many millennials are not politically engaged.

“We feel that as one voice, as a younger person, we don’t have a lot of say in politics and I think that also drives their decision to remain out of the discussion as well,” said Connor Walby, a millennial and the campaign manager for State Rep. Frank Foster, R-Petoskey.

Walby also said the negative messages in politics that are seen on social media affect millennials' decision to vote as well.

“With our generation and having Twitter and Facebook, we are blasted with a lot of the 24 hour news cycle. And with that you also get a lot of the negative news coverage,” Walby said.  “I think a lot of our generation is pretty sick and tired of some of the policies that have been put in place and they are just sick of the politicians and the political atmosphere in general.”

Congressman John Conyers.
Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

DETROIT (AP) - Longtime Congressman John Conyers has joined a federal lawsuit taking aim at the requirement that petition collectors be registered voters.

Conyers joined the suit Thursday, two days after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined he doesn't have enough signatures to appear on the Aug. 5 Democratic primary ballot.

The suit was filed against Garrett and Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson by the ACLU on behalf of two petition circulators and others. The signatures they gathered weren't counted because they hadn't complied with state voter registration requirements.

Conyers first was elected to the House in 1964. He represents Michigan's 13th district, including Detroit and several suburbs.

The ACLU also asked the court to order Garrett and Johnson to stop enforcing the law the group deems unconstitutional.

Johnson's office declined comment.

Congressman John Conyers.
Photography Courtesy of www.conyers.house.gov

Congressman John Conyers turns 85 on Friday, but a petition-gathering snafu is likely not the birthday gift Conyers would have wished for.

He’ll be filing an appeal with the state after yesterday's announcement by Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett that Conyers did not have enough valid signatures on his nominating petitions to be on the August primary ballot.

Garrett says only 592 of the necessary 1,000 signatures are valid. Many signatures were disqualified because the people collecting the signatures were not registered voters. According to law, that voids the signatures they collected.

If his appeal to the state fails, Conyers is talking about mounting a write-in campaign for the primary.

All of this has those who have watched John Conyers since he was first elected to Congress in 1964 thinking about his "epic journey" through the decades, and what an ending to a career this could be.

Michigan Radio's political commentator Jack Lessenberry joined us today to talk about this.

*Listen to the interview above.

Congressmen don’t stay on the job forever, though it sometimes seems like it.

This year will be the last for Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, first elected in 1978, and Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, the all-time longevity champ, who has represented a Detroit-area district since 1955.

Their retirements, while momentous, weren’t very surprising. Indeed, Carl Levin announced that he wouldn’t run for re-election more than a year ago. Far more shocking was the sudden decision by two mid-Michigan Republican Congressmen to bow out.

Both Rep. Dave Camp, R-Michigan, and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, had safe seats, a fair amount of seniority, and are youngish men by congressional standards. Yet within the last few days, both said they wouldn’t run for re-election.

That set off something of a mad scramble.

This is an election year, and if you haven’t noticed, you'll soon be engulfed by an inescapable tidal wave of advertising that will make that clear. Last night’s State of the Union speech was, in one sense, a campaign platform.

So were all of the various Republican responses. We’ve seen precious little bipartisan cooperation in Washington or in Lansing these last few years, and unless the martians invade, you can probably count on even less this year.

But regardless of your politics, there is one area in which we need to cooperate to make changes. Not in for whom we vote, but in the mechanics of how we vote.

State and national GOP chairs have now called on Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema to resign his position.

Agema stirred controversy after making anti-gay and anti-Muslim comments.

Late Friday, Agema issued a statement acknowledging “errors in judgment,” but says he won’t resign.

This has many people asking what Agema’s comments mean for Republicans – particularly for Muslim or gay members of the Republican Party.

Joining us now is Joe Sylvester, chair of the Michigan Log Cabin Republicans. Log Cabin Republicans are people who work within the party to push for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Dave Agema served from 2006 to 2012 as a state representative in the Michigan Legislature. He hit his term limit and moved on to other things in 2012.

Now he represents Michigan as a member of the Republican National Committee. Many Republicans wish he weren't.

Some are naming names and calling for his ouster. Others aren’t calling him out by name but are “asking for more civility,” as MPRN’s Rick Pluta reported:

Twitter

2014 is going to be a major year in Michigan politics. You can expect much of the spotlight to be fixed on the gubernatorial election with presumed candidates Rick Snyder for the Republicans and Mark Schauer for the Democrats.

But Crain's Detroit Business thinks there are other names worth watching in 2014. Writer Chris Gautz joined us to talk about the people to watch in state politics.

*Listen to the audio above.

user kulshrax / Flickr

(Editor's note: This interview was first broadcast on November 14, 2013)

Polls following last month’s partial federal shutdown make it pretty clear: Americans are tired of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents disapproved of the shutdown. Fifty-seven percent of Americans were angry with the way Democrats handled the shutdown. In total, eight in 10 Americans say they oppose the shutdown.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Legislature wasn't as busy as it was last year passing last-minute legislation, but they were busy.

Here's a rundown of the activity seen in Lansing over the last two days.

New law in Michigan

- Putting limits on abortion coverage

Michigan's Secretary of State is proposing an end to secretly funded political ads.

Republican Ruth Johnson proposed a new rule today to require sponsors of so-called "issue ads" to file reports with the state and meet current campaign finance requirements. Currently, ads only urging voters to support or oppose a specific candidate are subject to disclosure requirements. Issue ads define a candidate's suitability for office without directly urging a "yes" or a "no" vote, and they're exempt from disclosure requirements. Chris Gautz, Capitol Correspondent for Crain's Detroit Business, joined us today.

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A higher number of Detroiters voted in Tuesday’s mayoral election than their New York City counterparts, according to research from Next City.

25.4% of Detroit’s registered voters filled out a ballot on Tuesday, with Democrat Mike Duggan winning the election. In New York City, 24% of voters showed up to the polls. Democrat Bill De Blasio is now NYC’s mayor-elect.

As Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported, the turnout in Detroit was higher than anticipated. "Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey had projected that less than 25% of voters would participate."

While Detroit voters edged out New Yorkers Tuesday, Next City reports that the two cities were somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of major city election turnouts:

Howard Books

One of the most frustrating aspects of living in American in 2013 is the way we seem to have lost a sense of being on the same team. 

Instead of thinking of ourselves as Americans or Michiganders, it's all too often Democrats or Republicans, Christian, or Muslim. 

This deep sense of division leads to gridlock in Congress and in Lansing. 

Marlon Phillips / Michigan Public Radio

Today's the day.

It's the day the state's new emergency law goes into effect - the day current 'emergency financial managers' become 'emergency managers.'

Last November, Michigan voters repealed the state's much maligned Public Act 4 (emergency manager law). The majority of voters felt the law put too much power in one person's hands.

Legislators reacted to the repeal by passing a modified emergency manager law (Public Act 436).

It restores a lot of the old powers granted to emergency managers under the old law, but with some differences.

Here are some similarities and differences between the old EM law, and the new one.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

It seems there’s a fair degree of attention paid to the question of trust, as in, “how much do citizens trust their elected officials?”

We’ve seen citizen trust in the federal government drop dramatically.

And surveys find that, while citizens tend to trust state government more than the federal government and their local government more than federal and state, those citizen to government trust levels tend to be low.

But has anyone ever asked how much do elected officials trust their citizens?

Trust is a two-way street.  Yet, this question gets virtually no attention.

That’s why CLOSUP, the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State and Urban Policy, decided to put that question to local government leaders in its recent Michigan Public Policy Survey.

It’s an interesting “snapshot” of the state of trust between us and the people we’ve elected to lead us.

We sat down with Tom Ivacko from CLOSUP to tell us what exactly happened when politicians were asked if they trust the people that voted for them.

Listen to the full interview above.
 

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