Editor's Note: Slotkin’s shaming defies civility pledge

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

With Donald Trump as their poster-child for incivility, many Democrats running for office are righteously trying to set themselves apart from the president and his bombastic ways.

Yet it’s not exactly civil to paint Republicans as an unclean caste — regardless of who sits in the White House.


At a public meet-and-greet last week in Rochester, 8th Congressional Democratic candidate Elissa Slotkin suggested that her supporters boycott local businesses that have signs up for Republican incumbent Mike Bishop.

In a recording of the event, Slotkin is heard saying the following in response to a question from an attendee about campaign signs:

“I will say we have had a number of our folks, volunteers and supporters, walk into...some of the private businesses here who have put Mr. Bishop signs up and as is their right. But it certainly sends a signal to other people who is welcome and who is not. And we’ve certainly had reports of volunteers going in and saying, ‘Hey, I always get my tires rotated here, or I always come here for this, and I’m not going to come here if you’re going to be political towards one side.’ That matters, right? That matters to people if they hear it enough times. So any signal we can send would be helpful.”

The irony is that Slotkin pledged to run an issues-oriented campaign against Bishop, who seeks his third term in Congress and is a lifelong Oakland County resident.

Laura Epstein, Slotkin's spokesperson, defends Slotkin’s comments: "At a large, public community event attended by Republicans, Democrats, and independents, Slotkin engaged in an open Q&A and responded to a question from a volunteer about signs.” 

Slotkin has made civility an important part of her pitch to voters, calling for “returning the core principles of civility and problem-solving back to government to get results.” Calling for boycotts of those who don’t think the same way as she does falls well short of that pledge. 

Slotkin is also hoping to ride the pink wave of female, Democratic candidates who seek to take power back from Trump and Republicans. As evidenced from the Women’s March events, much of that rhetoric is far from civil or inclusive.

Democrats are beside themselves over Trump, but they should take a close look at their own actions, too.