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BONNIE GREER: With Michigan won, Trump is done

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer defeated Republican Bill Schuette to become governor of Michigan. Picture: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

It will be curtains for the president if Michigan recognises him as a danger to national security, according to BONNIE GREER.

One possible reason that speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that she now supports a narrow impeachment enquiry in the matter of the possible Trump shakedown of Ukraine is this: Michigan is ready.

One of the reasons that Donald Trump knew that he had become president-elect in 2016 was the fact that he had won Michigan. Or rather, that the Democrats had lost Michigan. Even though the Democrats had been losing votes between 2012 and 2016, that defeat was still a shock.

The vote total for Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, and her vice presidential running mate, the senator from Virginia, Tim Kaine, was 300,000 short of the number achieved by Barack Obama and his running mate, the former senator from Delaware Joe Biden, in 2012. Add to that, out of all of the states that the millionaire real estate tycoon from Manhattan had won in the north, he had taken Michigan by the fewest number of votes: 11,000 – 47.50% to Clinton’s 47.27%.

It is the electoral college that decides the president of the United States. The voters elect the electors: 270 votes are enough for the win. And a one-vote majority can give a candidate all of a state’s electoral college votes. For the Dems, Michigan could not be lost, both literally and symbolically. So when Trump won all of Michigan’s 16 electoral college votes, the 2016 election was, as they say, won and done.

This left Michigan Dems among the most bitter of mourners at the Democratic Party post-mortem. It was not, as some might say, that they had not seen defeat coming. Michigan was one of the seedbeds of the Reagan Democrat – that white, working class voter who felt that he (mainly ‘he’) was in a death-spiral of diminishing returns culturally and economically. This demographic helped Reagan win 44 states out of 50 in the 1980 election. Game-change does not begin to describe this.

Yet the Reagan Dems voted for Obama and Biden twice, in 2008 and 2012. This is one of the reasons that Trump truly fears Biden, and this fear is the source of the deep trouble Trump is in now.

Michigan can be tricky. That great New York City expression, “go figure”, certainly applies to it. But figuring politics out is what Nancy Pelosi does. Her father, a former mayor of Baltimore, taught his only daughter to, above all, “count the votes”.

When the centrists, moderates and conservatives of the Democratic Party of Michigan came on board the Impeachment Train, Pelosi had the votes. Plus she had the voice of the demographic that her party needs in order to take back the White House.

Michigan is composed of two peninsulas. The state motto is Si quaernis peninsulam amoennam circumspice – ‘If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you’. The election of 2016 was far from pleasant.

Back then, the Democrats won 75,000 fewer votes in Wayne County than they had in 2012. Wayne County. A Democratic Party stronghold. And the home county of Detroit… the home of Motown.

So, as they awaited the results of the 2018 midterm elections, Michigan Dems must have been singing. Singing the refrain from Standing in the Shadows of Love, as delivered by the great Detroit-born lead singer of the Four Tops, the late Levi Stubbs:

Standing in the shadows of love

I’m getting ready for the heartaches to come.

But the midterms were not heart-breaking. The election saw the Democrats sweep all the statewide offices held by Republicans. They gained two Republican seats in the House of Representatives, while former state senator Gretchen Whitmer took the governor’s mansion by a 10-point margin.

Whitmer is seen as ‘folksy’. With her victory, she buried the urban myth that a woman could not succeed in Rust Belt Michigan and sceptical Detroit. She even won over some Trump voters. Her campaign slogan was, lyrically, ‘Fix the damn roads’ and she toured in a bus. She visited all 83 counties in the state including Macomb County, the bellwether that makes you or breaks you in Michigan. Full of Trump voters who told her they were, they nevertheless voted for her. Flint did, too. She promised that she would give them, at last, clean water. (Since 2014, the city has faced a crisis after its drinking water source was changed from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to a less costly source of the Flint River. Poor water treatment saw lead from pipes leach into the drinking water, exposing residents to elevated lead levels.) Clean water in a state nicknamed the Great Lakes State.

Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision on earth. Flint tells you just about everything you need to know about the effects of de-industrialisation; poverty and racism. And Michigan.

The Congress people from Michigan who have come out for the impeachment inquiry are Debbie Dingell, Dan Kidee, Brenda Lawrence, Andy Levin, Haley Stevens, and Rashida Tlaib. All Democrats.

Justin Amash, is the lone Republican, so far, in the House to support the inquiry. He is now an independent. And he is from Michigan. Pelosi does not do gesture politics, nor stuff full of symbols. Like her or loathe her, she is what is called a ‘retail politician’. Although she herself is as corporate as they come, she likes to know what folks talk about at the watercooler, or while filling up the tank, or over the breakfast table, at the school gate, and when they can’t sleep at night. The rest is theatre.

In fact, the legal rococo that is the Mueller Report was made into a night of theatre in an effort to get people to read the thing. The production was called The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in Ten Acts and was a table-read on Broadway with several well-known Hollywood and Broadway actors, among them John Lithgow, Kevin Kline, Annette Bening and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

It is true that the alleged shake-down of a comedy star turned politician and elected president of the Ukraine, by a reality TV star elected president of the United States is straight out of Dario Fo.

But what Pelosi is now carefully and minimally weaving through Congress will be something that even Fo could not concoct. Because when Michigan stood up, at last year’s midterms, she had the people who had elected Trump in the first place.

Impeachment is not a legal process. It is what the House says it is. In other words, it is a political process.

If the people of Michigan can see that Donald Trump is a danger to national security by bargaining with a foreign power through a deal involving military equipment in exchange for dirt on a political opponent, he’s done. This is for real and he knows it.

And if the committees now conducting the impeachment enquiry come up with a recommendation for impeachment, the Speaker only needs a simple majority of 218, to impeach the president of the United States. In effect, undo the 2016 election. With Michigan on board she now has 220 votes.

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