2017-01-05 / Front Page

Divisions remain over Trump and election

By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


POLITICAL DIFFERENCES between Democrat Dennis Bushey, left, and Republican Gery Zemaitis, didn’t prevent the two from sharing their opinions with each other at a Leelanau County Board of Commissioners meeting this week. POLITICAL DIFFERENCES between Democrat Dennis Bushey, left, and Republican Gery Zemaitis, didn’t prevent the two from sharing their opinions with each other at a Leelanau County Board of Commissioners meeting this week. Is Donald Trump a “larger than life” improvement upon the American political scene, or a “shameless, despicable, amoral person.”

That’s the political divide that personified the 2016 General Election, and continues today.

The positive view of President-elect Trump was provided by the vice chairman of the Leelanau County party; the negative view was part of a letter to the editor written by a Democratic Party activist.

Although the General Election was held nearly two months ago, there still appears to be plenty of fight left in partisans on both sides — not only nationally but right here in Leelanau County.

The partisan balance on the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners shifted only slightly after Nov. 8 when a 4-3 Republican majority strengthened to a 5-2 majority.

In Michigan state government, Republicans remain in control, including those representing Leelanau County in the State Legislature. Leelanau County and the rest of northern Michigan also elected a Republican to represent them in the U.S. Congress.

And while Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote nationally, she failed to win in the electoral college in no small part because she narrowly lost the popular vote in Michigan.

At the first meeting of the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners following the Nov. 8 General Election, the vice chairman of the Leelanau County Republican Party, Gery Zemaitis of Leland, could barely contain his glee.

Offering public comment at the board’s Nov. 15 meeting, Zemaitis asserted that the news media and other “progressive liberals” were shocked by the results of the election “because they’ve been living in a bubble.”

This week as the new County Board was holding its first meeting, Zemaitis doubled-down on that view.

“For the past seven years, people have been feeling this country was going in the wrong direction,” Zemaitis said. “It may take a person who is larger than life – Donald Trump – to turn this around.”

Zemaitis suggested that Nov. 9 should be declared a special holiday every year to celebrate “the death of political correctness.”

Talk like that only gets Dennis Bushey of Elmwood Township fired up. A Democrat, Bushey ran for a trustee seat on the Elmwood Township Board on Nov. 8.

The Elmwood Township Board remains entirely Republican, however. Although Bushey is done worrying about the local races, he said he’s worried to death about what’s happening nationally.

“I haven’t been more upset and had such ill feelings about what’s happening in our country since 9-11 (following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001), Bushey said this week.

“You only have to look at who Trump is nominating for cabinet posts to understand how quickly he’s throwing all his followers under the bus,” Bushey said. “The next 100 days will show where we’re headed – and it’s not looking good.”

Bushey’s views are spelled out in more graphic detail in a letter to the editor appearing in this week’s Enterprise.

While Trump won by less than one percentage point in Michigan overall, he won by more than three percentage points in Leelanau County where 7,239 voted for him and 6,744 voted for Clinton.

The Clinton/Kaine ticket prevailed in Cleveland Township by more than three percentage points; by more than 17 percentage points in Empire Township, 10 points in Glen Arbor Township; 13 points in Leelanau Township and four points in Suttons Bay Township.

But Trump prevailed in the majority of precincts in Leelanau County. He won by 14 percentage points in Bingham Township, eight points in Centerville Township; by five percentage points in Elmwood Township; by 13 points in Kasson Township; and by 21 percent in Solon Township — which at one time was considered the bastion for Democratic support in the county.

Return to top