Here it is interesting to recall the fate of Spencer Abraham, a co-founder of the Federalist Society and Michigan’s last Republican senator. Abraham lost his seat to Stabenow in no small part thanks to a campaign by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “Why is Sen. Spencer Abraham trying to make it easier for terrorists like Osama bin Laden to export their war of terror to any city street in America?” the group asked in newspaper advertisements and television commercials. This was ostensibly a reference to Abraham’s moderate views on immigration, but it was also an obvious dog-whistling allusion to the fact that he was at the time the only person of Arab descent serving in the Senate. At the time his opponent refused to denounce or even acknowledge the existence of the ads. These are the conditions, now forgotten, under which Stabenow’s now ironclad majority came into existence.

As with many of the most serious problems in American life, there is no obvious solution to the racial divisions in Michigan politics. They are a fact of geography as much as anything else. But it is interesting, if nothing else, for political observers to look at this state, where a black Republican is about to lose a Senate race in a landslide to a white woman whom the left sneers at as a “Monsanto mouthpiece,” and whose next governor will be chosen largely on the basis of his or her ability to talk tough about crime and the drug war, when they make generalizations about the state of our politics.