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.
Take 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.
And, 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.]
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NEVER TUNED IN TO THE SIX PACK BEFORE, HERE ARE THE DETAILS ON HOW TO LISTEN:
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.