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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Is Macomb County The Epicenter For American Political Realignment — And Why?

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

We might not be the glitziest place in the world, but… we know how to get up every day and work all day.”

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Stephen Henderson (left) speaks with state Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) (center) & former state Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Twp.) (right)Laura Weber Davis/WDET
Laura Weber Davis/WDET

Stephen Henderson (left) speaks with state Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) (center) & former state Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Twp.) (right)

In the wake of the November election, reporters from all over the country flocked to Macomb County to find out… what happened there?

The county put Donald Trump over the top to win Michigan, the first time a Republican has won the state since 1988. Macomb County itself has been more of a political anomaly over the decades. It’s often referred to as the home of the “Reagan Democrat.” Today, it might be the epicenter of political realignment in America.

What is happening in Macomb? What are people there feeling? What has changed in their lives over the last eight years? What are they worried about? What are they optimistic about? And will this political shift take root for years to come?

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson begins the conversation with new Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, who recently left Congress to run for that position

We’re a blue collar county,” says Miller. “We might not be the glitziest place in the world, but I’ll tell you one thing we know how to do, we know how to get up every day and work all day… When you had Trump talking about what happened to our manufacturing jobs, that wasn’t just a talking point for us. We live it.”

Stephen also speaks with state Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) and former state Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Twp.), who also served as Harrison Twp. supervisor from 2004-2011.

People in Macomb County are great,” says Bieda. “But I don’t think you could ever throw them all in one shoe box and make a one-size-fits-all generalization… They like to think for themselves and they’re looking at what they think are their self interests.” He says economic angst in the county was a primary factor in its support for Trump in 2016.

It wasn’t just jobs,” says Forlini, who admits he was surprised by Trump’s success in November. “Jobs were very important - and it’s interesting how a multi-billionaire appealed to the working-class people - but it wasn’t just that. It was also the immigration issue.” Forlini notes that his father is an immigrant from Italy who believes something needs to be done about illegal immigration.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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