Best of Bridge Michigan: Top political stories of 2020
This week, Bridge Michigan is revisiting some of its most impactful stories from 2020, a year like few others. Today, we examine our top articles about politics and government.
In a year shaped by the coronavirus, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spent months battling with Republicans over a lockdown intended to slow the spread of the pandemic — and things often got very ugly.
From armed protesters to an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer, tensions were high all year and remained so after the presidential election, when President Trump refused to concede defeat and blamed a global fraud conspiracy centered in Michigan.
In a dizzying political year, here are some of the top stories. In the coming days, we will revisit the articles about the environment, social justice, education and business.
The alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer and storm the Michigan Capitol with 200 armed militia members followed months of provocative, sometimes violent rhetoric against the governor, who imposed a long list of pandemic-related executive orders last spring to try to limit the spread of the virus. — Ron French
Whitmer’s restrictions to slow the pandemic thrust her into the national spotlight, propelled her to the vice presidential shortlist of Democrat Joe Biden, provoked a yearlong war of words with President Trump and sparked a court battle with Republicans. Through it all, she won praise for managing the pandemic, but also criticism that she shut out Republicans from the process and was overly restrictive on vulnerable businesses. —Jonathan Oosting
Many of the Republican activists who protested Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions became the biggest proponents later in the year of conspiracy theories claiming that widespread fraud denied Trump victory in Michigan. This April profile traced how Trump gave fringe Republicans a “modicum of credibility” and a podium some are now using to try to wrest control of the state Republican Party. — Jonathan Oosting
As Whitmer shut down the state because of COVID-19, a band of conservative sheriffs stood in defiance. Drawing authority from the right-wing “constitutional sheriff” movement, a Republican sheriff in west Michigan likened Whitmer’s order to mass arrest. They are the final word, they insisted ─ not the governor or federal government ─ on interpreting the constitution within their county. — Ted Roelofs
President Donald Trump and his supporters spent weeks spreading falsehoods about election fraud — and Bridge Michigan spent weeks fact-checking the most pervasive conspiracy theories and claims of fraud to set the record straight. — Madeline Halpert
From armed protests in the state Capitol to protests at officeholders’ homes, resistance to Gov. Whitmer often had a militaristic edge. In this September profile, militia leaders vowed that, after being marginalized, they were finally “starting to realize we have an important role in the public eye.” Just weeks later, men with militia ties were arrested on charges of plotting to kidnap Whitmer. — Jonathan Oosting
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