Michigan Divided

Searching for common ground in uncommon times

The 2016 presidential election revealed fault lines in our state that go far beyond traditional political divides. Different people are exposed to different news sources and get different social media feeds. Increasingly we even have different sets of facts.

With disappearing common ground, it becomes easy to demonize those we know little about, reducing them to disparaging and inaccurate stereotypes: the uneducated rural, the lazy urban, the narrow-minded Christian, the terrorist Muslim, the racist white man, the job-stealing immigrant woman. The growing gulf between groups makes it difficult to understand how others vote the way they do; and beneath that, the aspirations, fears or other factors that lead to those votes.

Bridge is following 11 Michigan people and families throughout 2017 to try to pierce the bubbles in which they, and the rest of us, live. We will check in on their lives throughout the year. Will their freedoms be expanded or curtailed? Will their finances improve or disintegrate? Will their health insurance improve or disappear? Will their community blossom or turn against them?

Can very different people find values they share? Or will the dream of a better country, a better Michigan, fade in a cacophony of voices that shout and never listen?

Full Coverage

Fireworks, parades, and a partisan divide that won’t go away

Jul 11, 2017 | Ron French

The 2016 election exposed a gulf among Michigan residents. Bridge revisited 11 people and families we first profiled at Donald Trump’s inauguration to see if the past six months had changed their outlook. Both sides, it appears, are digging in.

Trump and anti-Trump Michiganders meet: A photo story

Nov 7, 2017 | Ron French

Coffee, donuts, laughs and a few tears: a year after a divisive presidential election, voters meet to swap political views amid hopes they can work together on some issues.

An election divided them. A year later, they meet face to face.

Nov 7, 2017 | Ron French, Pat Shellenbarger

We’ve followed Michigan residents with diverse political views since the 2016 presidential election. They came together in one room on a recent morning. Here’s what happened.

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