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

An election. An inauguration. A divided state.

Jan 24, 2017 | Ron French

The gulf between us is bigger than ever. How do we find common ground?

Meet Michigan's divided

Jan 24, 2017 | Nancy Derringer, Ron French, Pat Shellenbarger, Jacob Wheeler

Can 11 passionate Michigan residents and families reach across the political and cultural chasms that too often divide our state?

Meet Michigan's divided: Dave and Sherri Frohriep

Jan 24, 2017 | Ron French

Meet Dave and Sherri Frohreip from Newberry, in the U.P.

Meet Michigan's divided: Aric Knuth and Jim Leija

Jan 24, 2017 | Ron French

Meet Aric Knuth and Jim Leija, from Ann Arbor.

Meet Michigan's divided: Tom Herbon

Jan 24, 2017 | Ron French

Meet Tom Herbon, from Troy.

Meet Michigan's divided: Lisa King

Jan 24, 2017 | Ron French

Meet Lisa King, from East Lansing.

Meet Michigan's divided: Ron Price

Jan 24, 2017 | Pat Shellenbarger

Meet Ron Price, from Holland.

Meet Michigan's divided: John Hulett

Jan 24, 2017 | Ron French

Meet John Hulett, from Sunfield, 25 miles west of Lansing.

Meet Michigan's divided: Wilfredo Diaz

Jan 24, 2017 | Pat Shellenbarger

Meet Wilfredo Diaz, from Wyoming, Mich.

Meet Michigan's divided: Cynthia Shafer

Jan 24, 2017 | Jacob Wheeler

Meet Cynthia Shafer, from Harbor Springs.

Meet Michigan's divided: Asandi Conner

Jan 24, 2017 | Ron French

Meet Asandi Conner, from Detroit.

Meet Michigan's divided: Ben Shomo

Jan 24, 2017 | Jacob Wheeler

Meet Ben Shomo, from Traverse City.

Meet Michigan's divided: Hussein and Mariam Charara

Jan 24, 2017 | Nancy Derringer

Meet Hussein and Mariam Charara, from Dearborn.

Amid strikes and spares, Muslim nervousness that the game has changed

Feb 9, 2017 | Nancy Derringer

Four couples, two lanes, 10 frames – when the president makes you feel unwelcome, sometimes you just have to go bowling.

Pupusas, locked doors, and a return to the shadows for one undocumented family

Mar 7, 2017 | Pat Shellenbarger

They’ve been called bad hombres and job stealers. Wilfredo Diaz and his family say they just want to be called Americans.

A conservative and two liberals swapped news feeds. It didn’t end well.

Apr 6, 2017 | Ron French

The “un-American” New York Times and the “nightmare” Drudge Report: A Troy conservative and two Ann Arbor liberals discover just how wide the news divide has become.

Cancer diagnosis brings clarity to one Trump voter

Apr 18, 2017 | Jacob Wheeler, Ron French

In Harbor Springs, Cynthia Shafer battles illness and political assumptions

In Bay City, Trump supporters march for jobs they are sure will come

May 25, 2017 | Ron French

How much of the political divide is an economic opportunity gap? In Bay City, which went twice for Obama, the focus is, as President Trump likes to say, jobs, jobs, jobs.

Amid protests over Trump, Muslims and guns, two enemies in Kalkaska bond near a giant trout

Jun 29, 2017 | Ron French

The village president’s inflammatory Facebook posts leads to an evening standoff along the normally placid main street of Kalkaska.