Opinion: Impeachment put Michigan Dems in a terrible bind

Terry Bowman

House Democratic leaders put their caucus members from Michigan in a tight bind with their politically motivated rush to impeachment.

Whatever their personal political leanings, that was not an enviable position for any elected official to find themselves in. Recent polls showing a dropoff in support for impeachment nationwide and improving numbers for the president here in Michigan only worsen the predicament.

Every Michigan representative who voted in favor of impeachment effectively voted to overturn their state’s choice in the 2016 presidential election. Two Michigan Democrats, Rep. Elissa Slotkin in the 8th District and Rep. Haley Stevens in the 11th District, even voted to invalidate the preference of their own constituents who chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin speaks during a constituent community conversation at the Oakland Center, at Oakland University.

That’s what makes Slotkin’s decision Tuesday to announce her intent to do exactly that so unbelievably, monumentally bad. Slotkin is former CIA. She obviously has no love for the president and instinctively sides with her old friends in the “interagency consensus” that Trump dared to defy. But you would think as a former “intelligence” operative, she’d have a little more sense than to betray her constituents like this. The ones who came to her press conference let her know right away.

U.S. Rep Haley Stevens

Even Democrats from “blue” districts weren’t this brazen. Take Rep. Brenda Lawrence, for example. Lawrence is a third-term incumbent representing the Democratic-leaning Fourteenth Congressional District in and around Detroit. As one might expect, Lawrence supported impeaching President Trump long before the current impeachment drama, and she continues to support impeachment over President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Yet, despite her firm personal support for the goal of removing the president from office, Lawrence recently felt compelled to say that “I don’t see the value of taking him out of office” at this juncture, given how close we are to the next election and how divided the country is already, opining that censuring the President would be a better course of action.

Unlike Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and Jerry Nadler —  all of whom represent deep-blue districts in either California or New York — Lawrence seems to understand that impeachment has put her fellow Michigan Democrats in a bind. Her remark almost seemed to offer Stevens and Slotkin a way out, revealing a middle road of “censure” that might allow them to respect the will of their constituents without alienating “resistance” Democrats.

True-blue radicals such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is calling impeachment "our only answer," might be able to get away with siding with the Party leadership’s effort to remove Trump from office.

That’s probably just what Tlaib’s supporters expect, but Stevens and Slotkin campaigned specifically on a moderate, unifying message, promising to work with the President and congressional Republicans. Stevens seemed to allude to this in a recent interview, telling The Wall Street Journal, “When I was campaigning I really campaigned on the notion of ‘Hey, we might not always agree on every single issue, but my line, my door will always be open to you.’ It’s this listening and review period right now and treating this with the sensitivity that it deserves.”

Given how badly this impeachment circus is going for Democrats, I suspect that voters will “retire” both of those faux moderates next November.

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