Those voices are discussing the Governor of Michigan, the state executive entrusted by its citizens to carry forward the time-honored knowledge of how to turn your hands into a local map.
On the heels of reports documenting a thwarted attempted kidnapping of the Governor of the Great Lakes State by a makeshift militia, many throughout the country are beginning to wonder, what exactly is in Michigan’s drinking water — besides the lead?
Elected as governor of Michigan in 2018, Gretchen Whitmer has been attacked for her response to the coronavirus pandemic with critics believing a virus that’s since killed over 200,000 people does not amount to the “state of emergency” she declared that’s deprived them of the opportunity to pretend that dinner at the Olive Garden counts as a fancy night on the town.
The effort to kidnap Whitmer, like any good crime, was orchestrated by a man who had been kicked out of his girlfriend’s place and was crashing in the basement of a vacuum repair shop in order to firmly establish his credentials as a dirtbag.
In concert with a local anti-government paramilitary group known as the Wolverine Watchmen, a very Michigan militia that most definitely missed the message of the award-winning HBO series, a total of thirteen men believed that state-sanctioned public health shutdowns were unconstitutional and had ushered in a wave of tyranny, to which the only solution would be to execute the combined storylines of V for Vendetta and Baby’s Day Out.
After playing make-believe with semi-automatic weapons in the woods for several months, the men toyed with everything from an old-fashioned Frank Sinatra Jr.-style abduction to simply shooting her on a doorstop as if she were a porch pirate who’d taken one too many packages on Prime Day.
On a reconnaissance mission, they even toyed with blowing up the bridge leading to her vacation home, which seems completely superfluous given the sate of infrastructure in this country.
If these men had just been a little more patient, that bridge may very well have collapsed on its own within a couple of years and spared them the trouble of a potential life sentence.
For me, this story hits very close to home — and not because I live in the basement of a vacuum store, though I do share my recording booth with a Roomba.
Not only did I grow up in this state, I hail from the city that’s home to one of the defendants: a 23-year-old who calls himself Beaker, presumably inspired by the lovable Muppet who whipped up improvised explosive devices in an attempt to murder Miss Piggy.
The city is known as Lake Orion, Michigan, whose motto is “where living is a vacation” — the kind of place where there’s no need to strap the luggage to the roof of your station wagon because the governor’s already locked in the trunk.
And I worry about what’s happening in communities like these across the country, the kinds of unassuming towns that tend to make headlines for outlet mall grand openings rather than felony-level kidnapping arraignments.
Aside from a 32,000 square foot bocce ball palace and a single Mexican restaurant that counts Jack Daniels barbecue spare ribs as a signature Mexican entree, Lake Orion is lucky enough to still be anchored by a General Motors assembly plant, which proudly produce the types of cars that no one is proud to drive.
But in regions like these once defined by American manufacturing, where bad boyfriends are discarded into cluttered basements amongst the surplus Oreck filtration bags, I can almost understand how men like these become radicalized, nuts who are more interested in pursuing their perverted interpretation of the Second Amendment and less interested in trying to figure out why car factories that once paid middle class wages have been replaced by Amazon factories that afford you the opportunity to piss into a bottle on your lunch break.
These are some broad strokes here, but homeland security officials have ranked Homegrown Violent Extremists, White Supremacists, Anti-Government Extremists, and Militias as greater threats than Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and ISIS.
We’d get more bang for our buck redirecting drones from the Pakistani border back home to surveil what’s going down at a Kid Rock concert.
The president certainly hasn’t helped, tweeting during the stay-at-home orders to “Liberate Michigan!” as if its residents were being held captive by Tim Allen himself, but even after he’s voted out of office or chokes to death on an onion ring, we’re going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting to remind our neighbors and families that science is real, Facebook is not, and being told to wear a mask while buying an extra Xbox controller at Best Buy doesn’t mean it’s time to take the law into our own hands like some side character in Red Dead Redemption.
This isn’t going to be easy stuff to solve, but if we don’t vote this November for candidates and parties in favor of punishing media companies for spreading misinformation, limiting access to weapons of war, and paying fair enough salaries that people don’t feel inclined to waste their time absorbing misinformation and playing with weapons of war, I’m afraid more and more people across the country are going to come to the same conclusion that I did once I graduated from a lousy Michigan college:
it’s time to get the hell out of this place.