In the past year, more specifically during the Covid-19 lockdowns, a contentious relationship has developed between Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Trump administration. Yesterday the governor appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to discuss the experience of being the victim of a recent kidnap plot and her disappointment in the president’s language while on the campaign trail.
During that interview, many viewers noticed a curious, staged item on a table behind Whitmer, a 86/45 sign. Similar signs, bumper stickers, shirts and mugs are available for sale during the 2020 election and are advertised as support for impeaching or eliminating Trump as the 45th president. While her use of the 86/45 may have been in that spirit, some viewers saw a more ominous message indicating her support for the assassignation of the 45th president.
A deep dive down the Internet rabbit hole can provide multiple meanings and origins of 86. Some claim it simply is an old soda fountain numerical term meaning a menu item is not longer available; however, one of the Urban Dictionary’s meanings is “to get rid of (usually in reference to a person, often a coworker … sometimes viewed jokingly as a euphemism for killing them).” As with any political rhetoric, meaning can always be suspect and intent assigned as one sees fit.
The fact is that Governor Whitmer gave more than one interview about this subject on Oct 18 and in a local Detroit interview, the 86/45 sign was absent.
In this interview when asked about a Michigan Trump rally and the president’s calls for Whitmer to end the lockdowns and open up businesses and schools, the governor said “Well I’m concerned about inciting violent behavior.” This interview was taped before the NBC one where the sign was present. The use of the sign in a national broadcast instead of a local one indicates unique staging for the Meet the Press interview. One could assume she was simply conveying to viewers her wishes for a good election night for Joe Biden or that she wanted a slap back at President Trump, ramping up the rhetoric one notch more.
(Editor’s note: I know many might believe this is a bit far fetched. Nearly as far fetched as believing a bunch of boneheads who hatch a plan to kidnap the Governor are “right-wing,” let alone Trump supporters after they repeatedly and publicly denounced police, government, and….get this…Trump. It is worth mentioning that is what Gov. Whitmer continues to believe, evident in the above video.)