In The Spotlight

by Ellen K. Halter

Michigan Resistance began in the dark days following Trump’s victory, energized by the disappointment of Progressives. During that lame-duck session from November to December in 2016, when Republicans in the State Houses felt empowered by Trump’s victory to pass conservative, even right-wing bills, a band of Progressives met with Democrats in the State Houses who kept them informed of the legislative goings-on which needed protest. Armed with a list of 20,000 Democratic voters from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, these Progressives called them to ask them to call their state senators and representatives, remembers Margaret Schankler, who was in the founding group of Michigan Resistance. “We empowered Democrats who felt they had no power. We gave them a voice and something meaningful to do,” she added. In the early months of their resistance, the founding members stymied or prevented the passing of many right-wing bills in Michigan’s State Houses, including a proposal to cut the pensions of teachers and school staff as well as municipal workers, to require a photo ID to vote and to limit lifetime catastrophic injuries benefit. (The latter proposal, unfortunately, passed in 2017.)
In the four years since Michigan Resistance began, its mission remains the same local focus although much has changed. For one, the State Houses have become more partisan. No longer are there four or five Republican state congresspeople who are on the fence. Also, in the months preceding the 2020 presidential election, Michigan Resistance devoted themselves to campaigning, rather than what Schankler terms “legislative advocacy.” Members are proud of helping in the 2018 election to elect two progressive Michigan Supreme Court Justices, Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and Justice Elizabeth Welch, as well as the hard-fought elections of Democratic State Representatives Kelly Breen and Christine Morse, who became the first Democrat to represent the 61st district in 27 years.
Michigan Resistance will continue to fight for progressive legislation in the two Republican-controlled state houses, while hoping that the upcoming redistricting will give them more Democratic legislators. For more information, go to the group’s Facebook page: To join their effort, signup at

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