Opinion: The GOP is still tied to Trump

Terry Bowman

For all the hype about Republicans supposedly getting ready to ditch President Trump, an awful lot of GOP candidates are entering national politics with an explicitly pro-Trump platform.

Headlines scream, as they have throughout his presidency, that “the walls are closing in” on Trump. Liberals are convinced that the latest “bombshell” will force Republicans to abandon Trump — just like they were convinced by so many ostensibly earth-shattering reports during the Russia collusion investigation that turned out to be duds.

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump stands during a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony for auto racing great Roger Penske in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Republicans are unmoved by the drama. Over 90% of GOP voters support Trump, just as they have since Inauguration Day. The narrative of the president’s base abandoning him, which some media outlets tried to spin during the early days of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s illegitimate impeachment proceeding, is so manifestly inaccurate that the focus has shifted to Republican politicians. 

A quick glance at the new GOP candidates running to represent Michigan in Congress, however, shows that Republican politicians are as committed to supporting this President as their constituents. Contrary to the wishful thinking Democrats have been indulging, it’s not just low-information voters in flyover country who refuse to get on board with their politically motivated impeachment effort — it’s the entire America First movement that handed Donald Trump a large Electoral College victory in 2016.

Freshman Democrat Elissa Slotkin, who represents Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, went back on her campaign promise to work with the president, which was crucial to her victory in a Republican-leaning district. She bought into the “walls closing in” narrative and announced she was hopping on the impeachment bandwagon.

Two Republicans are running to replace Slotkin and hold her accountable for her flip-flop, and both are doing so on firmly pro-Trump, anti-impeachment platforms.

The pattern is even clearer in the 3rd Congressional District, where Rep. Justin Amash jumped the gun on impeachment, even beating his Democrat colleagues to the punch. Soon after Amash endorsed impeachment, multiple polls showed him losing decisively in 2020 to pro-Trump, anti-impeachment challengers, prompting Amash to quit the Republican Party in a huff.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, holds a town hall meeting at Grand Rapids Christian High School's DeVos Center for Arts and Worship on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.

Now that Amash is running as an anti-Trump independent, his challengers are doubling down on the exact opposite approach. The GOP candidates are praising Trump’s commitment to get American troops out of foreign wars and mocking the Democrats’ attacks, publicly pledging to “stand with President Trump” and “make Congress great again” by working “to continue the American revival” he started.

Similarly in the 11th district, freshman Democrat Haley Stevens joined the radicals in her party to attack the president, yet the Republican candidates stand firm in their support of Trump.

It’s all part of a wider trend taking place across America. Republican candidates running for office in Republican districts are putting Donald Trump front and center of their campaigns, undeterred by the “bombshells” hyped by Democrat politicians and Trump-hating media outlets. Just look down south at Jessica Taylor’s legitimate “bombshell” of a campaign announcement in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, in which she calls for a conservative answer to the “squad” of far-left freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives.

If Republicans were genuinely ready to abandon Trump, first-time GOP candidates would not be staking their budding political careers on riding his coattails into Congress. The very fact they are — in droves — disproves the entire notion.

Terry Bowman is the co-chairman of the Republican Party of Michigan.