About the project “Michigan Divided”

Frohriep at Inauguration

Tom and Janet Herbon of Troy are all smiles as they watch the candidate they supported sworn in as president Friday in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo) 

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?

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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D. Stout
Tue, 01/24/2017 - 10:40am

I commend you for this initiative. Thanks so much. Polarization, our harmful stereotypes, our temptation to 'dig in our heals' simply hurt everyone. When did self interest and intolerance replace a sense of concern, and a hope to share our common concerns?Where is the media? It appears its mission is to stir up discontent, create animosity, and to irresponsibly slant everything they publish! Hello..fellow residents. Are we all simply convinced that we are always more intelligent, better informed, and more clearly thinking than those who do not agree with us? Can we all find a way to escape our own prejudice? We can work together. We. Can. Find. Common. Ground. We can create win/win.