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Don't Rush Me


Is Synder making Michigan good for the goose?


'They' keep trying to make Michigander 'right'



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February 16, 2011 - Little did I know what a hornets nest I would shake, when last election cycle I commented on the incorrect usage of the term Michigander by the then two gubernatorial hopefuls, Virg "The Angry" Bernero, and Rick "The Nerd" Synder.

You woulda thunk I kicked my neighbor's dog, laughed and then wrote about it, by some of the responses I got when I had the audacity to point out the correct terminology to describe one who resides in the Great Mitten State is, contrary to popular belief, Michiganian.

I admit, whenever I have the chance (like when the now Governor's lackeys send us e-mail about a new Snyder initiative) I stir the pot. I reply back to the Gov's office something like . . .

"Please tell the Governor, if he wants to be the opposite of a Nerd (a Dren, just like Joannie Cunningham called Potsy in the sitcom Happy Days), he should stop insulting Michiganians by calling them Michiganders."

I figured I was doing my duty to make sure we have somebody cool representing us in the state's capital of Lansing. So, for the past month and a half I have e-mailed the Gov's people my old column (Michigander accepted, don't make it right, from October 2010), where I laid out who we are as a people. I didn't think anything would come of it. Well, once again I was wrong.

This past weekend our VERY pregnant reporterette Meg Collier sent me a message via that social networking behemoth, Facebook. The issue is alive!

Apparently WXYZ Channel 7, aired the following "news" story (they at least ran it on their website).

* * *

By WXYZ

It's one of the questions that has been debated in this state for years: are we "Michiganders" or "Michiganians?"

Now, a new survey by Lansing-based public relations and communications consultants Resch Strategies has determined that we consider ourselves "Michiganders" by a large margin.

Asking 600 Michigan voters "Do you consider yourself a Michigander or Michiganian?", the study found 58 percent of us say "Michigander," while only 12 percent say "Michiganian."

Of the rest, 7 percent say both, 11 percent say neither and 12 percent say they just didn't know.

The results disagree with the Michigan Historical Center, which uses "Michiganian" on its website. Both former Governors Jennifer Granholm and John Engler have also used "Michiganian". Current Governor Rick Snyder has called us "Michiganders."

* * *

I take full responsibility for the survey and the resulting "news" story. I mean, nobody else was talking about this in the entire state, save for yours truly . . . truly an influential member of the media after all, I reckon.

It's my fault.

Notice, the survey was by the Lansing-based communications consultants Resch Strategies. Here is some info about Matt Resch, founder of the company, "Matt Resch . . . is a veteran of Republican campaigns for more than a decade in Michigan." Also, he "began his communications and public relations career in the Michigan governor's office, serving as Deputy Communications Director for Governor John Engler and Press Secretary to Lt. Governor Dick Posthumus."

It doesn't take a brain-surgeon-conspiratorialist to connect the dots. The Gov's office wants to be correct. At all costs. So, they fed Resch my e-mails about the insult that is Michigander. Resch's job was to justify the Gov's use of Michigander, to make the governor the man of the people of Michigan (Michiganians, one and all). (They do this by carefully planning what questions are asked.)

What they don't get is this . . . it is not a popularity contest. For example, lets say New Jersians didn't know that folks from New York used to mock and demean them by calling them New Jerkians. And, let's say, through the course of a couple centuries, the history of the term was lost and soon the uneducated started calling themselves Jerkians, cuz it sounded "better." Would that make it right?

That is exactly what has happened in Michigan. Folks from Ohio and even the famed president Abe Lincoln called us "Michiganders" as an insult. But, through the ages folks forgot the slight. Maybe most of the educated left the state during Gov. Granholm's eight years of agony.

I want Resch to redo his survey and ask something like, "Do you like to be insulted?", or "Do you sound like a goose?", or "Did you know Michigander was an insult to Michiganians from Ohioans?" I would like to see the results from that survey.

I think folks in the law office say it best, ignorance is no excuse. So, why do you use the term?

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: don@dontrushmedon.com
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