Image by Gage Skidmore

The pollsters, including Nate Silver of 538 Blog, famously got this state wrong—dead wrong. Predicting a 99% chance of a Hillary win, reality struck the Democratic party establishment across the face on Tuesday, March 8 when the Sanders campaign pulled a win in the state’s primary.

What happened?

Cheryl Weston, an RN and member of Michigan Nurses Association, attended the Sunday night debate in Flint, Michigan with some coworkers. Although she is firmly in Bernie’s camp, some of the people with her were “on the fence.”

I asked her what she saw at that debate.  

“We’ve become a right to work state in recent years, and it’s been a real struggle for some of the unions here,” Weston observed. “When Sanders spoke, he really was speaking to us every day working people. That’s why he won, I think. Some politicians are all about corporations and the wealthy. He’s firmly about us, he’s honest, sincere, and down to earth.”

Weston also commented that working people in Michigan feel both bullied and ignored by Michigan Governor Snyder over the last six year. Snyder, one of the crop of Republican governors elected in 2010, got help in his first campaign for office from some labor unions in Michigan, partly by promising to not push for so-called “right-to-work” legislation. However, when his fellow Republicans in the state began to advocate for it  (and other states were moving ahead with it), he helped get it written into law. Snyder was also involved in enacting the  “Emergency Manager” legislation giving city bosses the power in financially distressed cities to break contracts, eliminate unions, and renege on pensions for city workers in cities all across Michigan.

But back to Cheryl — as we talked about Bernie Sanders more, she kept using the word, “genuine.”

“Clinton never answered questions at the debate. Bernie did,” she observed. “In fact, by the end of the debate, one of my coworkers who was on the fence and even somewhat in the Hillary camp when we got there said, ‘I’m voting for Bernie.’”

“Twenty years ago when my grandfather was still alive, he predicted an uprising by the people — the everyday working people — of this country. I think we’re seeing it now,” she concluded.

Cheryl has worked with people in Flint, as well, as a part of a coalition known as “Flint Rising,” which organizes people for the “long-haul fight of creating the justice and future that Flint families need and deserve.”

“To me, all these little groups that have come out of the crisis in Flint, and others across the state of Michigan—we’re tired of it! Since the government’s not going to support us, we’ve got to do it ourselves. And we will,” Weston added.

“During that debate, I felt a tide change.”

It’s a tide that’s changing the way people in Michigan and across the U.S. are seeing the Democratic Party in 2016.



Brandon Weber has written for Upworthy, Liberals Unite, and Good.Is magazine, mostly on economics, labor union history, and working people. He is working on two books, one on forgotten labor history and one on the fatally flawed foster and adoption system, and some ways to fix it. 

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What Cheryl Weston said is absolutely true. The working people have been relegated to lower class citizens, when we used to be considered middle class and even upper middle. The people who are middle class now are the ones we used to consider "rich". During this regression of income and quality of life for the middle class, the obscenely wealthy have managed to buy our government, take over the Supreme Court, and have laws passed and enacted that ensure the majority of all wealth is funneled straight to them, which they in turn hide to avoid paying taxes. We are being crushed under the weight of inequality and injustice, and NO ONE in government today gives a damn about us. No one but Bernie Sanders, that is. He truly understands exactly what we're going through and has been trying to change the system from the Senate for decades. He's been the lone voice advocating for us for 30 years, and would continue to fight the fight alone if Elizabeth Warren hadn't come along. She, too, is the only other government official who really understands and isn't afraid to stand up and fight for us. If they can take on the rest of the government all by themselves just to help us, who are we not to stand up and fight for ourselves? That's why so many people are doing just that. We are dying, but we're not dead yet. As long as there is even the tiniest spark of life left in us, we will use every bit of it to fight for ourselves and others who feel the crushing weight of oppression. We've had enough.
Brandon Weber, You nailed it, just as Bernie Sanders is nailing it. "Working People" have been taking it on the chin for too long. If we don't turn this around, Sen. Sanders is exactly right. The Koch brothers and all that feed from that trough in this country will turn our working class into no better than working class in a third world country. When they do, no category of working people.... manufacturing, construction, office workers, transportation workers, health care workers...ie nobody will be immune. CAJ
Yeah, Bernie is "honest, sincere, and down to earth".....and a complete cypher when it comes to the concept of making any economic contribution to society. One could ask the question as to how many private sector jobs he's personally created, financed, and maintained if it weren't common knowledge that he never really even had a regular job HIMSELF until he was close to forty....and then (and since!) it was generally a case of his snuggling up to the public trough. It amazes me how there can be people who think an individual who's been an economic failure himself is capable of leading a society down a responsible path? Other than "gimme, gimme" demands, what does Bernie have to offer? Not much, that I can see. Perhaps that lack is what appeals to the parasitic "the world owes me a living" crowd that make up his supporters.
Bernie... snuggling up to... What???? Hillary.... born in the privileged class.... snuggling up to Wall Street casino gangsters.... poor thing was 'dead broke' after her husband's presidency... oh, hey, got that covered... a short speech here, there and deposit 250k in her bank account.... geez, I think we need to send her $10 so she can get some pasta and sauce from the corner deli or maybe some beans for dinner... Bernie has done things For The People, not for his own excellency status.... ask Burlington how it would have been if Bernie had let the real estate moguls build those Special Towers for $$$$ Folks (yep... like me) on... the waterfront.... instead of making the waterfront an area that ALL the people of Burlington and visitors can go to.... boating, bicycling, walking, watching the sunset over the NY Adirondacks... oh, what a parasite he was! Unlike Trump, Hillary, Mitch McC... sigh.... Bernie isn't 'owed a living'... he has worked for decades in trying to insure that people can make a living.... and enjoy the world around them.... Anyway.... I wish folks would do a little research before putting grumpy, foolish things up as a post... educate yourself, my friend, before your fingers hit the keys.... there are surprises to be found....

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A couple thousand "nobles sauvages" and nerdy savants from across the republic are letting loose this weekend.

If I lived in South Dakota, I’d probably be in a nursing home. And that would be hell.

The nights would start with beer and end with coffee—a lot of coffee.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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