What the 2016 election results tell us about the changing landscape of America, the possibility of non-partisan redistricting in Michigan, helping local kids find their inner superheroes, and Mittenfest XI …on this weekend’s Saturday Six Pack


This Saturday’s episode of the Saturday Six Pack, our second of the Trump era, will be told in four parts.

During our first segment, we will be talking with University of Michigan Professor of Political Science Vincent Hutchings, the author of Public Opinion and Democratic Accountability: How Citizens Learn About Politics, about the results of the 2016 election, and what they tells us about the changing landscape of the United States. As Hutchings, among other things, researches voter behavior, the role race plays in American politics, and how citizens both monitor and influence the actions of their elected representatives, I suspect we’ll have a lot to talk about. So, if you want to hear what I expect will be a lively discussion not only about why white women overwhelmingly voted for Trump, and why black voters, to a large extent, stayed home this past election day, but what we can do going forward to influence the voting behavior of our elected representatives, be sure to tune in early.

[If you want to get a sense of what Hutchings is about prior to the broadcast, you can either check out the notes I posted yesterday from a recent panel discussion about the election that Hutchings participated in, or watch this video of him discussing a “racial coding” experiment he and his collaborators recently conducted, which proved that “by juxtaposing images of African Americans with negative commentary about government, (they could) provoke and activate people’s racial attitudes.” It’s incredibly fascinating stuff.]

Then, during our second segment, we will be joined by Susan Smith of the League of Women Voters, with whom we’ll be discussing the prospect of non-partisan redistricting in Michigan as a means of combatting gerrymandering and delivering representation that more accurately reflects the wishes of voters. Redistricting may not be an issue that many of you are terribly passionate about at the moment, as it’s somewhat abstract, and not as immediate as, say, an attempt to sneak voter suppression laws through the state legislature during a lame duck session, or an announcement by the President-elect that he’ll be giving a white supremacist an office in the White House, but you could argue that it’s even more important, as the way our district boundaries are drawn dictate our Congressional representation, which is really the wellspring from which everything else flows.

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-8-39-07-pmTake for instance the state of Michigan, where I broadcast the Saturday Six Pack from. More Michiganders voted for Democrats in House races during this last election, but more Republicans won. And that’s because Republicans have redrawn the district boundaries in order to lump Democrats together into single, oddly-shaped districts, while allowing Republicans to keep majorities in the surrounding areas. Here, to the right, to give you a sense of what we’re up against us, is a map of Michigan’s 14th district, which stretches from eastern Detroit west to Farmington Hills and north to the suburbs of Auburn Hills. If Michigan were to have non-partisan redistricting, this wouldn’t be an issue. Districts lines would be rationally drawn, without thought as to which party they might benefit politically, and the result would be a State government that better reflected the will of the people.

As for why I want to talk about redistricting, it goes back to something that I posted before last month’s show, just a few days after Trump won the election.

How do you fight a system, I keep asking myself, that threatens to destroy the EPA, roll back civil rights protections, end Social Security as we know it, dismantle public education, and all of the other things that Trump and his people have promised to do over the past year? Where, I wonder, should I be directing my efforts? Where might we, if we organize, have the greatest impact?

Well, I thought about it, and redistricting, I’ve decided, is where I want to focus my energy, and this discussion with Susan Smith is just the start… So tune in Saturday, and keep tuning in, for what I hope will be an extended series of discussions on the subject.

jermaineAnd, during our third segment, we’ll be joined by Ypsilanti artist Jermaine Dickerson about the Ypsi High Superhero Program he launched under the auspices of the Eastern Michigan University Bright Futures initiative, and how he now intends to take the concept even further, with a series of public events that will culminate in something he’s calling Hero Nation-Ypsilanti, which will be held this September 9th at both Parkridge Community Center and Partridge Park. “The goal of the event,” says Dickerson, “is to highlight the intersectional aspect of the superhero genre in regards to the representation of people of color, women, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups.”

I was tempted, after the election, to go “all politics” with the radio show, but it was a conversation with Dickerson that reminded me that I needed to keep making room for awesome people doing incredible things that had absolutely nothing to do with Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Vladimir Putin. As much as I can get caught up in the horror of what’s happening, and obsess about the fights that need to be fought on a daily basis, I’ve come to realize that there’s more to life than fighting, and that, if things are ever going to get better, it’s not going to be because of protests and boycotts, but because people made things happen in their local communities that got people working together to improve the lives of their neighbors, and that’s exactly what Dickerson is doing. He’s building something from the ground up so that our young people know that they can accomplish whatever the put their minds to. And it’s incredibly powerful stuff.


[From Jermaine’s description of his Ypsi High program: “Superheroes are colorful representations of our dreams, hopes, and life experiences. The journeys they endure are often inherently reflective of our own lives. Rather it’s overcoming their fears to defeat a formidable enemy, or accepting the responsibility that comes with great power; superheroes, at their core, are human. This program uses these principles and converts them into life lessons for youth. These lessons will help build character and improve confidence while providing students with a platform to creatively tell their own superhero stories, where they are the heroes.”]

And, in our fourth segment, we’ll be inviting back two old friends, local musicians Linda Ann Jordan and Annie Palmer, who will coming in to tell us all about Mittenfest XI, the huge upcoming benefit for 826Michigan. [If you’re interested, you can hear Annie’s last visit to the show here, and Linda’s here. Annie, as I recall, talked about fern sperm, and Linda performed with her band Best Exes.] For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Mittenfest, which is the big social event of the holiday season in southeast Michigan, you’ll find the history here. And tickets, I’m told, can be gotten at the door. [The event runs from December 29 to January 1 at Ypsilanti’s Bona Sera Underground, and a list of the over 20 bands and musicians that will be performing can be found here.]



Unless you live inside the AM 1700 studio, chances are you won’t be able to pick the show up on your radio. As that’s the case, I’d recommend streaming the show online, which you can do either on the AM1700 website or by way of TuneIn.com.

And for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, and need to get caught up, you can listen to the entire archive on iTunes.

And do call us if you have a chance. We love phone calls. So please copy down this number and slide it into your sock – 734.217.8624 – and call us between 6:00 and 8:00 this Saturday evening. The show is nothing without you.

One last thing… If you’d like to tell your friends and neighbors about the program, feel free to share the Facebook event listing.

And, here, thanks to AM 1700 senior graphic designer Kate de Fuccio, is this week’s poster, in case any of you want to print copies and leave them at one of your favorite highway rest areas.


This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Michigan, Politics, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Eel
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Trump thanked black voters yesterday for not voting. The line got a lot of applause.

  2. Eel
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    In case you didn’t believe me.

    “Trump calls on Pennsylvania crowd to cheer African-Americans who ‘didn’t come out to vote'”


  3. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    As presented, it is a bullshit article from the Chicago Tribune.

    Listen to the actual quote on YouTube. Trump thanks African Americans for not voting for Hillary in addition to thanking black voters for voting for him and picking up on his message…

  4. English Teacher
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I’d be interested, from his perspective as a social scientist, whether Professor Hutchings thinks there’s a way to discern to what extent racism factored into Trump’s support.

  5. M
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Steve King, a Republican Tea Party member from Iowa, is right on gerrymandering.


    “When I looked at the map, I wanted to challenge it,” said King, one of the most conservative members of Congress. “Who doesn’t want a map that’s more solid for their ideology? But it’s the right thing to have a redistricting plan designed to bring about the will of the people. If that means at some point I lose my seat in Congress because the redistricting plan disadvantages me in the long haul, the country is better off because it brought about the will of the people.”

  6. Kim
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    If people are looking for a resource, Emily’s List has a good video about gerrymandering that I’ve used to educate my friends.


  7. anonymous
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t aware that the Avatars had reunited. Was there a press conference or something that I missed?

  8. Katherine
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    According to his site, Hutchings is currently conducting research on “how different news frames can diminish or exacerbate tensions among Whites, Blacks and Latinos”. If you have a chance, I’d be interested to know more about his work in that area. Thank you.

  9. Bob
    Posted December 16, 2016 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    You should lock the studio door. I fully expect Jean Henry to break in and take over your microphone.

  10. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    I have a band in Nairobi. Please check out this great video of us.

    When people watch the video, they will rush out to vote.


  11. Oliva
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I’m with English Teacher. And I’m trying to quiet the screams inside my head and heart to be able to speak reasonably, maybe even convincingly, about the way sexism, too, has been operating–and did. Not abstraction, not raw easy argument (“I would’ve voted for Elizabeth Warren”). I hope we’ll have rich discussions that break through a really demoralizing sexist/racist underbelly, without defensiveness. At this point, while the internal screaming/clawing/crying persists, I’ll just say that from a woman’s perspective, it’s been really awful to hear the often veiled misogyny that still controls this ship we’re on, even despite the captains’ wishes–sometimes just a little morsel that seems innocent enough but is really disturbing, dismal evidence of the deeper attitudes and beliefs that hold sway. There are some men who are just so thoroughly, naturally, plainly feminists–and that is a most beautiful thing. Too rare, though–and sadly, the rarity is contagious and infects a lot of women too.

    May the Bright Futures Superheroes (can’t wait for this part of the show, Mark) help lead us, by way of young people, back on the welcoming path of equality and non-squeamish, undefensive self-awareness and equal participation, with an actually real and true fully embodied feminism and vehement antiracism shared widely and a well-honed instinct for questioning ideological arguments that, while they claim to reveal a noble populism, actually imagine us all as interchangeable stick figures and not actual human beings saddled with very stubborn and wily cultural, sociopolitical, and economic baggage.

  12. jean henry
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    FF– He thanks black voters for turning out for him (8% of those who voted) and for not going to the polls to vote for Hillary. So for not voting at all. I actually had a conversation last night with a young Black student from Muskegon and she said many in her family did not vote. She said listening to white liberal Bernie supporters cry about rigged system provoked the response, ‘oh you’re just noticing.’ And ‘you guys think YOUR vote doesn’t count?’ I know you like to play up the 8% (v 6% previously GOP) of black voters going for Trump as some great coming together of the working class, but it’s a false narrative. I don’t know why so many black voters stayed home. At least a few stayed home because of white liberal conceit. We do know that Trump’s social media campaign actively sought to discourage people of color and young women from voting in the weeks before the election.
    And we know he has spent his victory tour bragging about his other duplicitous tactics with pride. The Trib article seems on point. Your amalysis of working class rebellion is really getting tired.

  13. jean henry
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Mark– thanks for covering redistricting reform. It’s a great first step. We could have real electoral reform at a state level by 2020. And we aren’t the only state working on it. Recent MI reform initiatives have failed due to citizen disinterest. I think we are all starting to see what’s a stake. Gillian Ream Gainsley and I are putting together a group to learn about redistricting with the help of LWV and figure out next steps. We planning a Teach In on redistricting reform in late January. When that’s set up, I’ll let you know.

    Bob, I’d love to see you there. Every teach in needs a few hecklers.

  14. nobody
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Jean, it is not the fault of Bernie Sanders that black people did not vote. Please accept this and move on. There is too much work to be done.

  15. stupid hick
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I endorse Morbid’s music and youtube videos. Sycophants, take notice!

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Nobody– apparently it was the cherry on top of the shit pie of marginalization for some people of color. PS I also pointed to HRC not campaigning in the swing states and Trump’s campaign to disuade people of color from voting as causes of disenfranchisement. But in the end marginalization generally and everywhere– left and right, top to bottom, dem, left, GOP, and alt right–is the cause of disenfranchisement. Many versions of how marginalization happens. Bernie had his and he’s STILL repeating it. (Same as M Moore) and so I’m still responding. I’ll shut up when Bernie gets back to the issues. My real issue is with the fantasy that Bernie would have won the general. There is zero to back that up. Like FF’s unified working class under Trump fantasy. It defies all data.

  17. Jean Henry
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Nobody– apparently it was the cherry on top of the shit pie of marginalization for some people of color. PS I also pointed to HRC not campaigning in the swing states and Trump’s campaign to disuade people of color from voting as causes of disenfranchisement. But in the end marginalization generally and everywhere– left and right, top to bottom, dem, left, GOP, and alt right–is the cause of disenfranchisement. Many versions of how marginalization happens. Bernie had his and he’s STILL repeating it. (Same as M Moore) and so I’m still responding. I’ll shut up when Bernie gets back to the issues. My real issue is with the fantasy that Bernie would have won the general. There is zero to back that up. Like FF’s unified working class under Trump fantasy. It defies all data.

  18. Oliva
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that conversation, Jean Henry. That problem (the appeal to fear and rage through words like “rigged,” narratives of greed and selling out, etc., when there are actually many other sympathetic words and elevating narratives that fit) was obvious back in spring and was dispiriting and so threatening to a decent outcome for 8 November. Sanders wanted to mount an opposition to Obama in 2012–I wonder if he would’ve used “rigged” and all that back then though; he might have tried putting Obama and Romney in the same wealthy class sellout bucket, but clearly someone with a sense of the 650-billion pound elephants in the room talked him out of it. Bernie might be at his strongest as opposition, but his is lightweight compared to the shameless, bare-faced kind of obstruction wielded so effectively by the GOP in a very different direction, which a whole lot of us let happen.

  19. Oliva
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth (maybe not much), that Newsweek writer–oh, what’s his name–said he saw the opposition research about Sanders and feels sure Sanders didn’t stand a chance. Decency (by him, by others) hasn’t revealed it–though hearing it might help puncture the really unhelpful bubble about Sander’s better chances in November. Hard to know. But even with his big rallies, he didn’t come close to Clinton. Some people argue he would have done better if he’d taken himself seriously and begun much earlier. I think, like Trump, he benefited from the easy anger and populist (popularity contest) fervor stoked by social media and our resistance to deep thinking brought on by busyness and short attention spans. His history is long, but a lot of people looked at him like a fresh face; he had the snazzier bumper stickers and yard signs–and there was the appeal of shared cynicism, being in on the joke. The people on the more “pure” Left who never liked Obama but backed him after Edwards was forced out have been angry at him all along, and both Clintons–I get that. But I think a whole lot of other people got caught up in a frothy narrative–not to mention the catchier logo and slogan–and are now among the decent people who are hurting really badly. (Sanders used to be a regular guest on Air America back in the day, would faithfully and humorously rant about Bush and Cheney–but his disrespect for people fighting on behalf of their very palpable and meaningful lives and his dogged preference for ideological “truth,” even if it’s not exactly right or helpful, weren’t part of the picture.)

  20. Oliva
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Gosh, I’m wordy today–but I forgot something important.

    Nobody, you say that “it’s not the fault” of Sanders with such authority (but with the good intention of getting us together and to the hard work at hand). But what if that’s actually not true? And what if moving on with untrue ideas could doom us—again? (We’ll know more over time, all are sensing/imagining/supposing truth and facts ahead of actually knowing–and most of us are probably wrong, at least partly. I would love to know, for example, how much the human propensity for “negativity bias” got us to this place and if taking greater care, being more aware, could have really helped us see what was happening better.) Anyway, I can vouch for the power of suppression, of what felt like mob condemnation, toward those who dared question Sanders during the primaries—we got walloped, and it was safer to the spirit to be quiet. But we needed to be speaking up and assuring people who were beginning to doubt everything that Clinton was not actually an evil shill, etc.—that she actually had policy plans that would have helped us all and preserved precious gains. And is, according to the people who know her, a really kind, impressive person.

  21. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    “Your analysis of working class rebellion is really getting tired.”


    You project positions onto other people. A lot. It’s ok. I don’t care anymore.

    The article is intentionally misleading. Quoting someone out of context for a desired effect is not “on point” as you suggest. BUt it is ok. I don’t care anymore.

  22. Jcp2
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink


  23. Oliva
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Must encourage people to listen to Mark’s interview with Professor Hutchings–was excellent; he talks about who voted and how the numbers compare with other elections, among other really vital matters. (Can hear it as podcast–that segment just ended.)

  24. Jean Henry
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Great show, Mark! And Pete’s new song was incredible.

  25. Posted December 17, 2016 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for listening, Oliva and Jean. Yeah, I liked the conversation with Vince. I feel like I could have done better if I didn’t have this damned cold, but I still cry much liked it. It’s good to be reminded that it’s not just the Republicans who race bait. And, yes, Jean, I really liked Pete’s new song. I made it a point not to listen to it in advance, as I wanted to hear it for the first time while we were live on the air, and it was great.

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