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What do anti-lockdown protesters have in common with the business class that is pushing for Michigan to re-open?

May 19, 2020

Last week, Alex Kotch, posted an excellent article about how some of the long-standing national far right organizations are providing significant support to several of the anti-lockdown protests that have occurred in the US in recent weeks.

The article, entitled Secretive Right-Wing Nonprofit Plays Role in COVID-19 Organizing, provides important information and analysis about the role that the Council for National Policy (CNP) has been playing in the anti-lockdown protests in several states.

The article does not provide any direct connection between the CNP and anti-lock-down protests in Michigan, but it does mention the connection between the DeVos family and the Council for National Policy.

Richard DeVos, the father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is a former president of CNP, and his family foundation has funded the group. DeVos’s parents’ family charity, the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, are regular donors, having given money in the 2018 fiscal year, the most recent on record.

More importantly, the article from Kotch demonstrates that the anti-lockdown protests are getting strategic support from national groups like the Council for National Policy, which is connected to the larger far right network in the United States.

Again, this article does not mention Michigan specifically, but it does signal that those who are organizing and attending the anti-lockdown protests are getting support from well connected and well funded national groups that have been around for decades.

What about Michigan?

There is definitely a connection between the anti-lockdown protestors in Michigan and Senate Majority leader Mike Shirkey, as we noted in our most recent post. Shirkey has been in communication with Ryan Kelley, who was involved in organizing some of the anti-lockdown protests in Lansing, plus Sen. Shirley attended and spoke at the American Patriot rally in Grand Rapids that took place on Tuesday night

However, even if there is not a direct connection and even if we do not have clear evidence of the relationship between centers of power and the anti-lockdown protesters, it is worth looking at the ways in which their agendas overlap.

It is interesting that the anti-lockdown protesters, which essentially calling for Michigan to re-open, have the same agenda as members of the GOP (like Sen. Shirkey & Rep. Chatfiled), the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the West Michigan Policy Forum, the Acton Institute, even if their messaging isn’t always in sync.

  • The business-centered groups throughout the state and the anti-lockdown protesters both have a very narrow, even naive, notion about testing for COVID-19 and the likelihood that without adequate testing, Michigan will see another spike in cases across the state, especially those areas that are not currently experiencing high numbers. With more people going out into the community, the likelihood that the number of COVID-19 cases will increase, whether that means people going back to work or those going out to shop or eat in public places. In addition, what about all the people who live in urban settings and going to their cottages or to tourist destinations? Without adequate testing, it just increases the likelihood that the virus will spread. It is clear from social media that people do not trust the anti-lockdown protesters, when it comes to social distancing, but why would we put trust in groups like the Chamber, the Acton Institute or the West Michigan Policy Forum, since these groups have nothing but contempt for working class individuals and families, plus black and latinx communities, based on the policies they craft and the politicians they endorse and fund with campaign contributions.

It is easy to scoff at the anti-lockdown protesters that have been demonstrating in Lansing and most recently in Grand Rapids, but it would be a mistake to not see the overlapping agendas they have with powerful organizations across the state we have identified in this post. In fact, while we are focusing our collective attention on the dudes with the guns at the anti-lockdown protests, we are often ignoring or unaware of what those with real economic and political power are up to.

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