[guest post by Dana]
I’m pressed for time but wanted to point your attention to a devastating interview with Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) which illustrates the tenuous and depressing position in which Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump find themselves. Freshman Meijer filled the vacancy left by longtime congressman Justin Amash. I have high regard for Meijer’s demonstrated loyalty to the Consitution no matter the political cost.
I’m going to post a few excerpts to give you a sense of the quick transition from a naive elected official to a weary but wiser congressman who tries or perhaps struggles to remain hopeful despite the bleak state of his party. It would be beneficial to read the entirety of the piece before commenting.
Late at night on the second Tuesday of January, Peter Meijer, a 33-year-old freshman congressman from West Michigan, paced the half-unpacked rooms of his new rental apartment in Washington, D.C., dreading the decision he would soon have to make.
Six days earlier, Meijer had pulled a smoke hood over his face and fled the U.S. House of Representatives as insurgents broke into the lower chamber. They were attempting to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. Meijer had been on the job for all of three days. Once the Capitol was secured, he cast his vote to certify the election results. It was his first real act as a federal lawmaker—one he believed was perfunctory. Except that it wasn’t. The majority of his fellow House Republicans refused to certify the results, launching an assault on the legitimacy of American democracy.
Then there was the issue of the election results being challenged and an utter lack of leadership by party leaders:
And then he got to Washington. Freshman orientation was a blur of propaganda and innuendo and state-sanctioned conspiracy mongering. Meijer watched, from a hotel lounge, as the president’s lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell held a deranged press conference at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee. New members listened to powerful lawmakers leveling accusations that had no apparent basis in fact. They compared the crazed voicemails they were getting from friends and family members and swapped stories of the intimidation they were subjected to by voters demanding that they overturn the presidential-election result.
That entire day—the vote, as much as the attack—had caught Meijer unprepared. His party’s leadership had provided no guidance to its members, leaving everyone to navigate a squall of rumor and disinformation in one-man lifeboats.
Sadly, after seeing just how unhinged many of the Jan. 6 rioters were, some House members voted not to certify the election results because they feared for their family’s safety:
On the House floor, moments before the vote, Meijer approached a member who appeared on the verge of a breakdown. He asked his new colleague if he was okay. The member responded that he was not; that no matter his belief in the legitimacy of the election, he could no longer vote to certify the results, because he feared for his family’s safety. “Remember, this wasn’t a hypothetical. You were casting that vote after seeing with your own two eyes what some of these people are capable of,” Meijer says. “If they’re willing to come after you inside the U.S. Capitol, what will they do when you’re at home with your kids?”
Naively, Meijer had high hopes for the GOP after the tumultuous events rocked his party. He believed that the Republican Party could be reformed, but in short time he found himself censured by two several county-level Republican Parties in Michigan. Today, he is no longer so naive, but rather weary and unsure of what the future of the Republican Party is (especially if, as Meijer believes he will, Trump becomes the GOP nominee in 2024). Any Republican facing retaliation for being compelled by their oath to the Constitution to do what is right and does it is nothing less than an indictment against the Republican Party:
The stress of the past nine months had ground down the others in the group—which, he argued, is exactly what Trump and his cronies wanted. “What that faction is banking on is exhaustion,” Meijer said. “They want life in the shoes of the 10 of us to be miserable.” The question he and his friends now ask of themselves isn’t just “Can I win reelection?” Instead, he said, “It’s ‘Am I going to have to talk for the next few years about Italian military satellites and bamboo ballots and whatever [MyPillow CEO] Mike Lindell says?’ ”
In the days after January 6, Meijer believed he was part of a mission to rescue the Republican Party from itself. Now he laughs at his own naïveté. Ten people isn’t a popular movement. And in truth, only two of them—Cheney and Kinzinger—have shown the stomach for the sort of sustained offensive that would be required to rehabilitate the GOP. The other eight, having glanced over their shoulders and seen no reinforcements on the way, chose varying degrees of retreat.
“I don’t blame them. They did their tour in Vietnam; why would they want to go back?” Kinzinger told me in mid-October. “The responsibility for fixing the party isn’t on the 10 of us; it’s on the 180 who didn’t do anything. It’s kind of like Flight 93: If only a few people fight back, that plane hits the Capitol. But because everyone fought back, it didn’t.”
Most of his colleagues, Meijer believes, want to be with him. They pat him on the back and whisper encouragement into his ear. They say they’re rooting for his side. But they don’t think his side can win. So they do nothing, convincing themselves that the problem will take care of itself while guaranteeing that it will only get worse.
In his upcoming bid for re-election, Meijer will be facing Trump-backed candidate John Gibbs. He is a former HUD official. About Meijer, Trump said in a statement (while misspelling his name):
Meyer has been a terrible representative of the Republican Party and beyond.
I guess if he’s talking about today’s ReTrumplican Party, the former president is correct. Wear that badge of honor with pride, Rep. Meijer.
Read the whole thing.