Right-wing protest in Michigan is an attack on democracy

BY: Michigan District, CPUSA| April 16, 2020
Right-wing protest in Michigan is an attack on democracy


Picture this scene in Michigan’s capital: cars and trucks blocking traffic for over seven hours; Confederate flags bedecking those vehicles; a naked Barbie doll in a noose representing Michigan’s governor; people armed with automatic rifles; signs reading “the crisis is a farce,” “stop the tyranny,” “we are not prisoners,” and “impeach [Governor] Whitmer.”

Welcome to “Operation Gridlock,” a right-wing protest organized on April 15 by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and others, including the ultra-conservative Michigan Freedom Fund, backed by Michigan’s DeVos family (of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos fame).

Ostensibly, it was a protest calling for Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer to reopen Michigan for business. But the “Trump 2020” flags and “Impeach Whitmer” signs tell another story. In reality, this was a partisan, pro-Trump rally intended to intimidate the governor. The right-wing forces of Michigan are using the COVID-19 crisis to go after a female, Democratic governor and her executive powers to deal with the crisis. They take their cue from Trump, who has been vilifying governors for just doing their job.

The protest represents a small but well-organized fascist right-wing that couldn’t stand the Obama presidency and has become much more vocal since Trump was elected. Americans woke up to their presence when fascist elements took to the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. This same right-wing is using the COVID-19 crisis to attack democracy.

The protesters say that the virus is no big deal and Michigan should open up for business. Yet the irony of hundreds of protesters hunkering down in their vehicles as they blocked traffic in Lansing is not lost on us. By keeping physically distant in their vehicles, they amply demonstrated that they fear COVID-19. Yet they want Michigan to “reopen for business,” which, at this moment, would be disastrous. About 150 protesters did converge on the lawn of the Capitol building without keeping physical distance. One person was seen handing out candy to children with bare hands. Sadly, this irresponsible behavior may lead to more illness and death. Those who oppose the governor’s policies are also perpetuating misinformation straight from the White House—dangerous in a time of a dire public health crisis.

One piece of misinformation is that the virus affects only minorities and people living in the cities and therefore can be dismissed by those living in outlying areas of the state. But the obituaries show that people of all ethnic groups and ages are dying in large numbers across the state, not just in cities. That African Americans and Latino populations are disproportionately affected is due to their historically having less access to adequate, affordable health care.

There is some good news here: the majority of Michiganders aren’t buying the pro-Trump camp’s nonsense. When they are not working, they are staying at home, protecting themselves, their families, and their community.

The Michigan District, CPUSA, supports Governor Whitmer’s science-based policies to stop the spread of the virus. We encourage Michiganders to contact Gov. Whitmer and their state senators and representatives and express support for her response to the crisis, write letters to the editor, and engage in discussion on social media.

We also demand a comprehensive, coordinated, and nationwide (and global) effort to battle the virus, including implementing hazard pay for frontline workers; using the Defense Production Act to force companies to produce necessary personal protective equipment and respirators; extending unemployment benefits; enacting a moratorium on rent, mortgage, and other loan payments; and canceling all student loans; among other  measures.

This crisis has highlighted the desperate need for a national health care system. Some people are dying because they don’t have health insurance. A nationalized system would take care of everybody. It would put people before profits. We think that the people deserve nothing less.










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