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Opinion

I have been a staunch defender of the Electoral College, that quaint mechanism left over from the early days of the republic. You may well know how it works, though many people don’t.

When you voted for president last week, you in fact voted not for a candidate, but for a slate of sixteen people who pledge to vote for that candidate. The winning electors will drive to Lansing on December 19 and cast their votes in longhand as they would have done in 1792.


Republican presidential candidate at a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Call it the revenge of the Rust Belt.

The little people of the industrial Midwest paved Donald Trump’s electoral college path to the presidency in red, straight through the heartland. He promised to represent the “forgotten” men and women left behind by globalization and trade, and to rewrite the economic rules governing the past generation’s consensus on trade. 

When I woke up the morning after the election, what popped into my head were some lyrics from the Democracy, written by that greatest of all poets of song, Leonard Cohen

“I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean/I love the country, but I just can’t stand the scene. And I’m neither left nor right/I’m just staying home tonight/getting lost in that hopeless little screen.” I suspected Wednesday morning that many people felt the same way.


AUCHTOON.COM

Earlier this week I was pulling into work when a replay of a Renee Montagne interview with the great Mel Brooks came up on Michigan Radio.

I took the the opportunity to sit in the car and listen to the entire thing. It was good timing all around. Like always, he made me laugh out loud, but he also gave me some perspective.

I spent yesterday working in my office and hearing from people whose emotional state could be compared to that of survivors from a destroyed village. They were in utter despair and wanted hope. Donald Trump, a man whose campaign had been defined by attacks on women, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, and general boorish behavior, was President-elect of the United States.

Angela Russo, a former student of mine, an occupational therapist in her early 30s and a former television reporter, was mostly stunned.


When I finally went to bed, what popped into my head was something the great cynical journalist H.L. Mencken used to say. “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want – and deserve to get it, good and hard.”

They will now get change, though what form that will take, nobody can say. What’s clear is that they wanted something different, and that the scope and the depths of their discontent was something that none of the experts grasped.


The late Theodore H. White, the prose poet of our national elections, wrote what remains the most lyrical and magical evocation of the meaning of this day.

“It was invisible, as always. They had begun to vote in the villages of New Hampshire at midnight, as they always do … all of this is invisible, for it is the essence of the act that as it happens, it is a mystery in which millions of people each fit one fragment of a total secret together, without knowing the shape of the whole.

Suddenly, something nobody expected has happened.

Michigan seems to have become the key state in tomorrow’s presidential election.

Hillary Clinton is coming here today. So is Donald Trump. So is President Obama. Bill Clinton was here yesterday -- two of the last three presidents of the United States, plus the next one, regardless of who wins.

The reason is simple.

Trump has surged nationally, but he has to win either Michigan or Pennsylvania to have any chance of winning the election – and Pennsylvania isn’t looking so good for him, so that leaves Michigan.

It’s third down and six or seven yards.


Lower Community College / Creative Commons

The presidential race is not over in Michigan.

Donald Trump doesn’t think so. New polls show his 13-point gap has been narrowed to three points in just two weeks. That’s why two of his kids hit the state again. It’s why his running mate was here. It’s why Trump is looking to land here sometime over the weekend.

In the past three days, I have talked about the campaign with people in all walks of life, from a state Supreme Court justice to a functionally illiterate janitor.

Their first words were all virtually the same. They can’t wait for it to be over. Unexpectedly, in the final weeks Michigan has become a key state for the first time in years.


JOHN AUCHTER / WWW.AUCHTOON.COM

Like most of us, I've pretty much run out of things to say about the election.

Any thoughts — from salient points to outraged rants — have been expressed.

I see many (cartoonists, commentators, Facebook posters) are settling now for "wow, what a messed up election season this has been" reflections. And that's certainly understandable.

On Michigan Radio, we don’t normally cover baseball outside the state. But we have to make an exception this week, because the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

If we don’t talk about this now, we might not get another chance for 108 years. And who knows? I could be gone by then.

Why should you care about either team?

Well, maybe you shouldn’t. These are just games, after all, while we’re in the throes of the most serious election in decades.

To say that many voters are disenchanted with both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would be an understatement. For a while, I thought this might be a big breakthrough year for the Libertarian or the Green Parties.

However, that doesn’t seem likely.

Support for Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson dwindled after he seemed utterly ignorant of foreign affairs. Too many liberals are still too traumatized by memories of Ralph Nader costing Al Gore the presidency to consider Stein.

So what about writing in somebody?

Moments after the news came last Friday that the FBI had apparently discovered new Hillary Clinton e-mails, my phone rang.

A reporter for the Benzinga news service wanted to know if there was any precedent for a last-minute October surprise affecting the outcome of a presidential election.


A few hours before Donald Trump spoke in Warren yesterday, I spoke with a handful of people who he probably knows nothing about, but who may be the most truly American of all.

They were all residents of something called Freedom House, in a century-old, red brick former convent, just a stone’s throw from the Ambassador Bridge.


Last week we saw two contradictory federal court rulings on Michigan’s law outlawing taking selfies of your ballot in the voting booth. For now, it is still illegal. 

Michigan Radio Senior News Analyst Jack Lessenberry is trying to sort this out.

Here's what he said:

Yes, this indeed has been the weirdest presidential election of our lives, even counting the year Ross Perot charged that President George Bush the first’s reelection campaign was scheming to destroy his daughter’s wedding by spreading the rumor that she was a lesbian.

Last Sunday, a warm and witty elderly gentleman I knew named Lloyd Strausz was in the process of planning his 99th birthday party, and decided to take a nap.

Unfortunately, he never woke up. Later, at the Shiva celebration of his life in his daughter’s home, I said I thought it was too bad that Lloyd, who had cast his first presidential vote for Franklin D. Roosevelt, had missed one final election.

But he did vote, I was told. He had sent in his absentee ballot days before. He is now that stuff of legends – an actual dead voter, though in this case, a legitimate one.

GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.
John F. Martin / Creative Commons

Car and truck sales are plateauing in the lucrative U.S. market, but you wouldn’t know it from the big jump in auto profits.

General Motors exceeded Wall Street expectations this week with record third-quarter earnings of $2.8 billion. Ford Motor showed that discipline can have its price. And Fiat Chrysler demonstrated that exiting small-car production may not be as costly as first feared.

Auchter's Art: Why aren't they listening to me?!

Oct 28, 2016
AUCHTOONS.COM

In the spirit of today's cartoon, allow me to tell you some things that you already know:

Let’s say you were a candidate for the Michigan Legislature, and you got to run against a guy who has been convicted of eight felonies and is now being charged with three more.

Your opponent, the incumbent, has also been evicted from his home in the past for non-payment of rent.

Additionally, the state has had to pay more than $85,000 in legal fees to attempt to defend your opponent from a sexual harassment charge from a man who worked for him.

You might think the challenger would win by a landslide.

But in fact, William Broman is a huge underdog.

Frank Szymanski likes to startle audiences by asking, “Have you ever seen a naked trial judge?” after which he takes off his suit coat and flings it on a chair.

“Don’t worry, I’m going to stop there,” he tells them.

“But if you don’t educate yourselves before you go into that voting booth, if you don’t know who I and Judge Deborah Thomas are, we might as well be naked. You need to know that we are both circuit court judges, we care about kids, that we care about justice for everyone, and that we were nominated by the Democratic Party for the Michigan Supreme Court.”


Gretchen Driskell got into politics by accident twenty-some years ago, when she was home with a toddler and a neighbor knocked on her door.

He was running for city council and wanted her support; she was an accountant and an MBA who had taken a few years off to raise her three kids, and was happy to talk to another adult.

There was a great fascination with Tom Hayden when I was in high school in the Detroit suburbs in the mid-1960s. Mostly on the part of the teachers, that is.

They regarded him as a boy gone wrong who had grown up in what was then sleepy, suburban Royal Oak and then become a radical enemy of America. Some of them knew his mother, who was a film librarian for the public schools.


Inside the Chevy Bolt.
GM

Detroit should not be in the business of gloating.

Its automakers have closed too many plants and cut too many jobs. They’ve lost too much market share and destroyed too much capital. They’ve disappointed too many investors to claim the high ground in the global auto industry.

That image is not likely to change until they successfully weather an inevitable slowdown. The industry also needs to parry the competitive threats posed by Silicon Valley, the coming mobility revolution and the battle for young, tech-savvy talent. Could Detroit be holding its own?

For almost eight months, the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on the Flint Water Crisis has been meeting, taking testimony, and struggling to find solutions.

Two days ago, they released a major report aimed at preventing further disasters. Unfortunately, they did this the day of the final presidential debate, which meant it got less than full attention. 


Auchter's Art: Demanding party loyalty

Oct 21, 2016
John Auchter
auchtoons.com

Pointing out the inconsistencies and hypocrisies in politics has always been the go-to source for material for editorial cartooning. But in this year's bizarro election cycle — oh my goodness! — it's shooting fish in a barrel!

Forty years ago, Gerald Ford, the only man from Michigan ever to reach the White House, went to bed in the wee hours of Election Night not knowing whether he had won or lost.

For Ford, the very closeness of the election was a sort of vindication. He started the campaign terribly unpopular. Inflation was high, and he was the man who pardoned our one clearly criminal president, Richard Nixon.


For the last several weeks or months I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about politicians, usually people who want you to think they have accomplished more than they have, and are now promising to do more than they can possibly do.

As long as you vote for them, that is. Well, two people died in the last few days who spent their lives doing more than most people realized, and who weren’t very well known.


Last weekend I was invited to a birthday party with a 1980s theme in which guests were supposed to dress accordingly. Well, I don’t have any mustard-colored sports coats of the sort President Reagan sometimes wore.

So, as the guest of honor was a Democrat, I wore political buttons honoring that party’s three great losers of that decade – Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis.


Someone asked me, what if Donald Trump loses the presidential election and refuses to concede defeat?

Well, legally, it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever.

From time to time, we’ve had Michigan candidates who didn’t have the grace to face their supporters and congratulate their opponents.

Geoffrey Fieger never formally conceded his race for governor. Neither did Terri Lynn Land when she was defeated by Gary Peters for the U.S. Senate two years ago. But both lost badly, the state certified the results, and that was that.

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