Trump Attacks “Those [Women] from Michigan”

Trump Attacks "Those [Women] from Michigan"
With Michigan “in the fight of its life,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel found no support from the president this week.

Michigan was hit by “500-year” floods this week—in the midst of a pandemic. And with over 5,000 COVID-19 deaths in the state, Michigan has had a particularly hard time combatting the virus. Between the two crises, state finds itself “in the fight of its life.”

But instead of offering help or support to the three women at the helm of the state government—Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel—President Trump has decided to attack.  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Whitmer—the second female governor in Michigan’s history—was the first to face Trump’s wrath in late March. Referring to Whitmer as “the young … woman governor” in a press conference, Trump then attacked the governor repeatedly on Twitter

Whitmer clapped back, insisting her requests had been “respectful” and calling on Trump to prove that he stands with Michigan by sending the supplies health care workers desperately need.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

Secretary of State Benson was the next powerful woman politician from Michigan to draw Trump’s ire.

In preparation for the November elections, Benson recently mailed absentee ballot applications to all registered Michigan voters. After all, congregating unnecessarily, like to vote in-person, is perilous during a pandemic.

Without mentioning Benson by name (but still simultaneously insulting her), Trump expressed his disdain for her action on Twitter—in spite of the fact that he himself has voted via absentee ballots in at least three previous elections.

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He also incorrectly stated Michigan was sending absentee ballots to 7.7 million voters. Later, he corrected his statement to accurately claim that they would receive absentee ballot applications, but falsely called the action “illegal.”

In response, Benson took time to explain the legality of her actions to the president.

Of course, it is no surprise that Trump chose to launch attacks against perceived political enemies in a swing state like Michigan: In 2016, the state went for Trump, but the state’s 2018 switch for Whitmer seemed to signal to many a retreat from his brash ways.

Benson seems well-aware of this tactic.

“To me, it is also a reflection of what will be happening in our state in the months ahead, which is an effort to misinform and confuse voters about their rights in the state,” Benson said on MSNBC Wednesday night. “We see it happening nationally, we’ve seen it happening in various different forms. We anticipate this is just going to escalate in the months ahead.”

Attorney General Dana Nessel

To outdo himself in attacking powerful women, Trump also sought revenge on AG Nessel. Her offense, according to the president? She sent a letter to the president, urging him to wear a mask during his visit to a Ford production plant in Ypsilanti, calling it a “legal” and “moral responsibility.”

When the president did not wear a mask the entire time, Nessel responded critically, saying his actions sent a “terrible message.”

“The president is like a petulant child who refuses to follow the rules,” Nessel said to CNN on Thursday. “This is no joke.”

And yet, as is the fate of all women who stand up to the president, Nessel came under attack—Trump labeled her “a do-nothing,” “[angry]” and “[stupid].”

Nessel clapped back: “Seems like you have a problem with all [three] women who run [Michigan].” 

It sure does.

In fact, the president has a long history of attacking women—especially women he considers a threat to his power: Many speculate that Trump’s attacks are an attempt to combat the 2018 “suburban revolt” at the polls, which helped elect the three women in question.

We need more leaders who identify as women—and we need more leaders who support women.

Perhaps Whitmer said it best:

“It feels like the perfect moment to remind [Dana Nessel and [Jocelyn Benson] how grateful I am for their dedication and hard work, and how proud I am to serve our state with them. These women from Michigan are the best of the best!” 


Audrey Andrews is a Ph.D. student in anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is an archaeologist, runner and feminist. Audrey graduated from Columbia University.