Members Only | July 12, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

What can we do after Roe? Look to Michigan

The backlash is real. And, as they say, it’s spectacular.

Gretchen Whitmer.
Gretchen Whitmer.

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People are pissed about the Supreme Court unceremoniously overturning Roe. Now we’re seeing just how pissed they are. 

Organizers behind the Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All proposal report that they’ve already collected over 800,000 signatures, nearly double the 425,059 needed by July 15 to get the measure on the ballot – a Michigan record for a ballot initiative.

If approved, this proposal would amend that state’s Constitution to sup1931 law that banned abortion until Roe came along. 

Increased voting rights and fair maps are the simplest way to fight the attrition of democracy. Michigan has a huge advantage in achieving these goals over many states, including our fellow bricks in the Blue Wall – Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

And more importantly, it would send a message to the enemies of reproductive rights everywhere – be afraid. Right now, you’re looking upon your works. You should despair. 

A ten-year-old rape victim forced to flee her home. Doctors fearing prison if they decide to save a patient from an ectopic pregnancy. Red state politicians salivating at being able to hunt anyone seeking an abortion by preventing them from crossing state lines.

For now, you’re getting exactly what you wanted. 

But voters won’t rest until the rights Roe guaranteed are restored.

The popularity of this measure also confirms something that should be obvious to anyone who pays attention to politics – Michigan is the model for resisting autocracy.

You may say that I’m a little too proud of my adopted home state. You might also say I’m overcompensating for the shame of my state of having helped elect Donald Trump in 2016.

You would be right. But so am I.

Like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Michigan responded to the realization that they’d put a Putinist in the White House by electing Democrats to key statewide offices, including governor, in 2018.

But the Mitten took the extra step of passing two ballot measures that helped undo some of the damage done to voting rights.

Proposal 2 gave the state one of the best approaches to ending gerrymandering in the nation. Proposal 3 expanded ballot access dramatically by, among many other things, giving every Michigander the option to vote by mail.

Both proposals passed with more than 61 percent support. Both were more popular than the measure legalizing weed, which also passed.

Making it easier to vote helped Michigan reject Trump in 2020 by 146,000 votes, more than 10-times his margin of victory in 2016. 

Thanks to our new fair maps, Democrats have a chance to win back the state Senate for the first time since 1984 along with the state House, which has been in GOP hands most of the last decade.

This would not only give Governor Gretchen Whitmer a chance to actually govern in 2023, it would prevent what is shaping up as the GOP’s plan to steal key swing states in 2024 by using gerrymandered legislatures to overrule voters.

Increased voting rights and fair maps are the simplest way to fight back at the attrition of democracy that made Trump possible. And to be fair, I have to note that Michigan has a huge advantage in achieving these goals over many states, including our fellow bricks in the Blue Wall – Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Pennsylvanians need the state legislature to approve a measure before it can go on their ballot. And the GOP-controlled, gerrymandered-for-their-pleasure state House in the Keystone State will never do anything like that to risk their power or ability to help elect Trump or a Trump impersonator.

In Wisconsin, you need the measure to pass two consecutive legislatures to pass a ballot measure that would modify the state Constitution. Something that will never happen because the state is, at this point, barely a democracy.

But Michigan’s unique ability to fight for democracy makes it more important to the rest of the nation, not less.

If Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom for All passes in the nation’s third most important swing state with nearly two-thirds of voters supporting it, as I imagine it will, this will send a message to the rest of the nation.
That message will be loud and it will resonate much in the same way Mallory McMorrow’s righteous speech calling out Republican BS did. And hopefully it will embolden weak-kneed Democrats to stand up on an issue where voters overwhelmingly and clearly oppose Republican BS.

It will say, we’re sick of your shit and we’re not going to take it anymore. Yes, this isn’t enough, given the depths and depravity of the threats to our rights and democracy we face.

But it’s definitely a start.

Jason Sattler, better known as LOLGOP on Twitter, is writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was a columnist and member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors from 2017-2021.

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