First, many thanks to everyone who participated in our spring convention last month. And a special thank you to those of you that volunteered to run for leadership positions. Members like you are what make the Michigan Democratic Party strong.
I also want to thank you for entrusting me to serve as your chair for the next 2 years. I am so proud of all of you and proud to stand alongside you. And make no mistake, while we just finished one major battle in 2020, these battles will keep coming. And as chair of the Michigan Democratic Party, we will fight these battles together.
While we had incredible victories in 2020 by winning the Presidency, returning Gary Peters to the US Senate, and electing a progressive majority on the State Supreme Court, we are not going to miraculously become a more tolerant, more generous, and more welcoming democracy. We still have a lot of work to do.
For us to win in 2022, I need all Democrats in Michigan to stay engaged. We need to keep strengthening the party, building support, talking to voters, and holding those damn Republicans accountable every time they choose to tow the GOP line. And together we re-elect “those women from Michigan,” increase our majority in the US House, and finally take back the State House and Senate.
Thank you again. It has been an honor to serve as your chair for the past 2 years and I am looking forward to all the good work we will do together.
For the first time in Michigan's history, the redrawing of district lines is in the hands of the citizens. In 2018, Michiganders voted for the Independent Citizen Redistricting Commission (ICRC). The Commission consists of four members of the Democratic Party, four members of the GOP, and 5 unaffiliated voters - all are tasked with drawing new district lines for political offices. This process is a step towards eliminating gerrymandering, which has plagued elections in Michigan for years.
The ICRC gives citizens the opportunity to voice their concerns directly to the commission through submitting public comments. We are currently making sure the commission is aware of communities of interest. If there are communities of interest the ICRC should be aware of, or if there is something that you would like the commission to pay attention to, let your voice be heard. Email thoughts and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information or further questions please contact Nicholas Barnes at email@example.com.
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T3 trainings are held every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET, from March 16, through April 22. The deadline to register is Sunday, March 14 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Click here to sign up.
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I recently wrote this article for the local newspapers in our district to give their readers an update on what I've worked on for constituents during the past 12 months. However, if you have not seen it in your local paper, I wanted to take this opportunity to share it directly with you.
Serving Constituents and Looking Ahead
By Congressman John Moolenaar
These past 12 months have been far from normal, but my team and I have been working hard to help every Fourth District resident we can. Whether they were affected by the pandemic, the flooding, or another hardship, we helped more than 4,000 residents when they needed assistance with a federal agency. This included reclaiming more than $5 million owed to residents by the federal government for late income tax refunds, delayed Social Security checks, and missed Economic Impact Payments. We also helped flood-affected residents connect with FEMA, and small business owners receive information about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) they used to pay their employees and keep the lights on.
As always, we were also dedicated to providing the best service possible for veterans in the Fourth District. We assisted hundreds of men and women who served our nation, reclaiming more than $700,000 in VA benefits for them and their families. We also helped them recover honorary medals that were lost or never sent to them by the Defense Department when they left the service. My team and I will always do whatever we can to help whenever someone is having an issue with a federal agency, including Social Security, the IRS, Medicare, and the VA. These agencies directly impact people across the Fourth District, and we will always try to help however we can.
This past year has been very challenging for everyone in Michigan, and we are thankful for the heroic first responders, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who have risen to the challenge to take care of the sick. The pandemic has also created new problems, including social isolation, an increase in mental health issues, prescription drug overdoses, and suicides. There has also been economic uncertainty for workers, as well as struggles for parents and students who have had to deal with remote learning.
All of this uncertainty last year is why I supported broad, bipartisan relief packages that provided direct relief for Michigan families, small businesses, and health care providers. I also supported the creation of Operation Warp Speed, the historic vaccine development program that helped the development of life-saving vaccines in less than a year. A year later, there is still a trillion dollars left over from the funding Congress approved last year. This funding has not been spent and it should have been used to help Michigan residents who are still struggling.
Recently, I voted for the Crush the Virus Act, which would provide more money for vaccine distribution, along with $7 billion in funding for rural hospitals, and $3 billion to support those suffering from mental health or substance abuse problems reignited by state restrictions. I also recently voted to extend the deadline for PPP applications, so small businesses can access the funding that is still available from the legislation I supported last year. Unfortunately, Democrats passed a much more expensive bill where only one percent of funding went toward funding the vaccine distribution that will end the pandemic.^ There was also a liberal bailout for states for reckless financial decisions made before the pandemic and no requirement for schools to actually use the money to reopen for in-person instruction and help students who have struggled. A staggering ninety-five percent of that funding will not even be used this year to re-open schools.^
Nationwide, vaccines are increasingly available each day, cases have fallen dramatically, and the number of people who are hospitalized has fallen below where it was last summer. The most vulnerable people in the country are now protected from the virus, and there has been a surge in seniors booking flights to visit family members they have not seen in a long time.
The best thing we can do now to responsibly jumpstart the recovery from the pandemic is continue distributing vaccines for all who want it, re-open schools, and let hardworking Michigan residents safely go back to work. Also, if you need help with a federal agency, please call my office at 989-631-2552, or go online at Moolenaar.House.Gov.
Congressman John Moolenaar represents Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District, which is all of Clare, Clinton, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Mecosta, Midland, Missaukee, Ogemaw, Osceola, Roscommon, Shiawassee, and Wexford counties, and parts of Montcalm and Saginaw counties.^https://gop-waysandmeans.house.gov/brady-democrats-political-payoff-leaves-americans-behind-and-sends-them-the-bill/
By Damian D. Sanderson
Is anyone else a bit tired? Pissed off? Frustrated with every narrative that comes your way? Every obnoxious re-write of fact that plagues the truth behind it? Why? It is who we are.
Consider these statements: Columbus was a conqueror, a hero, a discoverer of worlds! The Indigenous, drunken, disease ridden savages that were uncivilized. Red high-heeled shoes, dresses, make-up, and wigs are a sign of wealth and prosperity, honor and respect for women.
Fast forward, rewind, move to another country and it is a different story with a different slant, depending on the need.
Nowadays, high-heels are only for women, red bottoms no less. Check your history books from the 10th century on. Dresses are for girls, regardless of the long standing traditions of kilts, Roman tunics, smocks, robes, and Japanese kimonos worn by men. Long hair is "hippie" and certainly not manly, until it was, and then it wasn't again. Democrats are baby killers, big government, and pedophiles. Republicans, uneducated, greedy, and corrupt. Isaac Newton failed math in school so you too can be a genius! The "fake news" narratives go on and on.
We are a species that has the keen ability to spin, re-label, and twist a story to get what we want or need.
To protect our young.
To feel comfortable.
For better or worse, it's what we do because it has always been a major piece of our survival for individuals, our communities, and our nation. As the saying goes, common sense isn't all that common.
By Dr. Edward Lorenz
The recent violence by a mob in Washington trying to overturn the election makes clear we have an urgent need in the country and in Gratiot County to consider institutional/educational changes to confront authoritarian, anti-democratic behaviors. Historically, we have not always made the right choices. We live in a county that had a strong Ku Klux Klan that targeted the Catholic population. The Klan focused on Catholics because here they had few of their other favorite targets - African-Americans and Jews. However, we live in a community with a long positive history to guide us.
We live in a community with people who led confrontation with racism and hate. In the Civil War, 258 Gratiot County residents died for the Union, while Alma founder Ralph Ely served as both a distinguished military commander and, after the war, led the Freedman’s Bureau in South Carolina helping protect the rights of former slaves.
With the current rise of domestic anti-democratic terrorism, we should remember another locally groomed model of leadership, Frank Knox and his wife, Annie Reid, both Alma College graduates. You may know those names simply because they gave millions of dollars to fund the College’s administration building and to support a professorship in history. While I happened to have been the Reid-Knox Professor for two decades, I initially knew little of the couple’s importance.
It was easy to find out that Frank Knox quit Alma a few weeks before commencement in 1898 to join Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Rough Riders.’ His future wife Annie stayed to graduate with their class of 1898. Beyond that act, Knox showed up in the back of my history books in lists about presidential elections and presidential cabinets. He happened to have been the losing Republican nominee for Vice President in 1936 and then Secretary of the Navy during World War II. Some investigation also showed Knox was a journalist, first in Sault St. Marie, later in New Hampshire and finally owner of the Chicago Daily News. None of that background would make the couple more than the ‘footnote’ they usually get in our history.
In May 2009, I had a shocking revelation about Knox. I was with a class of Alma students visiting the Nazi Documentation Center in Nuremberg, Germany. Why were we there? Nuremberg had been a hotbed of Nazism, which is why after the war the German government established the Documentation Center there. The Center is not a ‘holocaust museum.’ Instead, it is a center for exploring how and why the people of Germany – which had the “best” education system in the world at the time - could "fall for Hitler." The Center runs training programs in understanding propaganda. Also, it has a set of exhibits on the rise of fascism.
As we looked at one of the displays that showed the two exceptional newspapers in the world to warn early-on of the dangers of Nazism, my students and I were amazed that one of the two was Knox's Chicago Daily News! A little investigation after we returned home revealed that in the 1930s Knox had built the Daily News into a foreign policy reporting rival to the New York Times and, as the Germans knew, one of the few papers to pay attention to the dangers of Nazism.
The Daily News employed as its German correspondent Edgar Mowrer, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1933 for his pioneering accounts of the dangers of Hitler. Knox fully supported Mowrer’s reporting, even when warned his correspondent’s life was in danger. Because Mowrer’s reporting so offended Hitler, he was one of the first correspondents ordered out of the country. The German official who escorted him to the train station in Berlin to assure he left, asked if Mowrer ever thought of returning. Mowrer answered, prophetically (and defiantly), "[W]hen I come back [it will be] with about two million of my countrymen."
Throughout the mid-1930s, while most Americans dreamt of isolation from growing fascist threats, Knox maintained his focus on fascism’s dangers. His commitment to this struggle became clear after he and Alf Landon lost in a landslide to Franklin Roosevelt. During the 1936 campaign, as has often been the role, VP candidate Knox was the ‘attack dog,’ especially criticizing Franklin Roosevelt for Social Security.
However, after the defeat, Knox resumed his focus on the dangers of fascism. This was not always popular. There was a large U.S. homegrown fascist movement. Until his assassination, Huey Long in Louisiana had been one of the leaders of that movement. Charles Coughlin of Royal Oak was another, personalizing a link of Christian-nationalism to fascism. There was a 20,000 strong German-American Bund that celebrated Hitler’s achievements. In 1937, to test support for confronting the fascist threat, President Roosevelt went to Chicago and delivered the ‘Quarantine Speech’ calling for the U.S. to confront fascist lawlessness. Virtually all of the nation’s press condemned the speech, except for Knox.
Then in 1940, a presidential election year, Hitler’s armies overran most of Europe. Roosevelt knew he had to do the highly unpopular step of instituting a peacetime draft. Knox agreed. In a bipartisan show of support, Knox agreed to come into the administration as Secretary of the Navy. He would die on the job in 1944 from overwork.
Everyone in Gratiot County should not only be proud of Frank Knox and Annie Reid but also learn from their bipartisan commitment to the country. As we saw on January 6, fascism is a danger here. Opposing it is not merely personally to reject fear and hate. It means being determined to find ways to work across partisan divisions to undermine it and its hyper-partisanship.
For the last three years, there has been a movement in the region to join together in Reid-Knox Forums to promote dialogue on important community issues. The forums have largely been supported by the Gratiot Democrats. While we appreciate that support, the forums should not be an event for only one party. We need Republicans locally to adopt the model of Frank Knox, Annie Reid, and Ralph Ely. We urgently need to model for our state and nation, coming together in dialogue to resolve the issues we confront - regardless of party.
Campaigns for elections are the time for partisanship. After we elect people to fill positions in government, we need to come together as humans who live in a community and discuss openly and without threats our thoughts on what are our problems and how can we resolve them. If we disagree with the reception our ideas receive from the people we elected, there always is another election when we can try to replace the current elected officials. We have a common community to serve. Knox knew that. He never became a Democrat. He served with a Democrat as a patriot.
By Helen Soderberg, Resolutions Chairperson
Cong. Moolenaar was one of four Michigan Congressman who signed onto the Texas AG’s Supreme Court lawsuit claiming election results in Michigan and other battleground states were unconstitutional. However, he did not vote to support challenges to the Electoral College vote in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t vote for impeachment. Michigan Republican Congressmen Fred Upton and freshman Peter Meijer (Justin Amash’s old seat) did. The latter, in interviews on MSNBC and CBC, said he acted as the President failed to take any responsibility for the attack.
The Michigan Legislature opened their 2021 Legislative Session on January 13th. Rep. Pat Outman, 70th, is serving his first term. He is the son of Rick Outman, our State Senator. He says his emphasis is going to be on infrastructure, including rural broadband, and skilled trades. He and his father run an excavating business. He is calling for the Governor not to extend the indoor dining ban past January 15th and proposes a ‘Dine In Day’ on the 16th to support restaurants.
Graham Filler, 93th, is starting his second term in office. He blames Gov. Whitmer for the poor rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in the state. He’s scheduled a tele-town hall on Thursday, January 21st, to discuss vaccine distribution. The event begins at 7pm. Participants can dial in at 877-820-7831 and hit #298738 when prompted.
On Monday evening Jan. 25 at 7:00 p.m. we will have the next Reid-Knox Forum focused on the lessons of the last 50 years growing from the PBB Accident in 1973. We will briefly review the history of the accident and then give time to discussing the on-going human health studies and efforts to deal with concerns of people exposed and their descendants. While parts of this story are old, it is as recent as a story on January 3, 2021 describing the new state website that facilitates getting current health information and joining or re-joining the PBB study. We’ll also highlight other ways you can participate by serving on one of the advisory committees for PBB.
Dr. Brittney Fremion a history professor at Central Michigan University will be co-presenting. Brittany runs the PBB Oral History Project. She not only is good at summarizing the oral histories they already have gathered, but invites others who may want to record their experiences with PBB to participate. Brittany and I have done a co-presentation for the state legislature and (a few weeks before COVID restrictions, did a symposium at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. We both serve on the PBB Advisory Board of Emory University which runs the whole PBB health follow-up.
Please note, this forum is being conducted jointly statewide through the Northville Public Library. To secure information on how to join the Zoom meeting and to assure you get a reminder three days before the forum, please register by going to: