If the Democrats think they won’t pay a price for impeaching President Trump, I present to them the case of Rep. Elissa Slotkin.
Slotkin, a former Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Department official, is a freshman Democrat from Michigan. She’s one of the candidates who flipped a conservative district blue during the 2018 midterms — which means, of course, that she has a target on her back in 2020.
Most of these freshmen have typically been against impeachment up until recently. Now, however, it’s a matter of Democrat gospel that the House needs to impeach Trump over his July 25 telephone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Slotkin has been given significant prominence in the Democrats’ media rollout of the impeachment inquiry, mostly because she’s from one of these conservative districts. Most prominently, her name was one of seven on a Washington Post column explaining why they, as Democrat representatives, were supporting an impeachment inquiry.
This, one guesses, is supposed to serve as proof the inquiry isn’t some sort of partisan witch hunt. If they can’t get any real Republicans on board with it, the Democrats figure, someone from a district that usually votes Republican will do in a pinch.
Over the weekend, Slotkin went back to her district and participated in a town hall event in the township of Hartland. If it’s any augury of a wider trend, her reception didn’t exactly bode well for the Democrats’ chances of keeping all of those districts they flipped.
At the Friday event in the township of roughly 15,000, described as one of the more conservative parts of her district by The Detroit News, Slotkin faced boos and questions about a “coup against our president,” which doesn’t exactly count a rousing show of support from her constituents.
Slotkin noted that the signatories of the Washington Post piece were “all former military or former CIA,” again a way of justifying this: “See? We’re conservative! … ish! And we think Trump should face an impeachment inquiry, even though it’s not really a real impeachment inquiry since we didn’t bother on voting for it!”
WATCH: House Democrat Elissa Slotkin gets booed at a Town Hall in Michigan after announcing she supports impeaching President Trump.
“When you fell off the cliff for me, was when you joined the coup against our President.” pic.twitter.com/VMMRM2FKhZ
— Francis Brennan (@FrancisBrennan) October 7, 2019
This got a mixture of boos and claps.
The claps were understandable, given the fact that her supporters were necessarily going to turn out.
However, when a representative’s voters are willing to show up despite the fact that the location of the event was changed with short notice — “The large room was packed even after a last-minute change of venue that aides said was done to accommodate the larger crowd,” The Detroit News reported — you know that this whole impeachment inquiry thing may not be as popular as Democrats imagined.
And when some of them are willing to call it an out-and-out “coup,” well, that’s even worse.
That’s what one questioner said, saying Slotkin had “joined a coup against our president.”
Another questioner reminded Slotkin that “impeachment is a serious thing.”
“I know that it’s clearly not popular,” Slotkin said in an appearance the previous day in Hartland, according to the Detroit News. “But I just felt compelled to do it because I just don’t know where this ends.”
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Apparently, some Democrats think this ends with electoral triumph.
“Certainly, the base on the Republican side is furious about this impeachment inquiry, but most of those votes were not gettable for her in the first place,” Adrian Hemond, a Democrat and CEO for a Michigan campaign consultancy, told The Detroit News.
“The folks that are going to be essential, the swingiest parts of her district, are moving in support of impeachment on a national level.”
Of course, this isn’t the kind of thing that’s going to be decided on a national level. Slotkin, like other Democrats in the “swingiest” districts, aren’t relying on national voters to win. They’re relying on constituents who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 — in Slotkin’s case, by 7 percentage points.
That’s a reminder that, no matter what happened in 2018, America voted for Donald Trump two years earlier, at least in states where it counted.
They may or may not vote for him again in 2020 depending on how they feel about him, both in terms of the direction the country is taking in general and the Ukraine situation in particular.
I’m not going to pretend the optics Trump’s call with Zelensky are spectacular. What I don’t want — and what I don’t think the Trump voters in Michigan want — is 435 representatives and 100 senators deciding their vote three years ago doesn’t really matter.
High crimes and misdemeanors haven’t been uncovered — yet, the Democrats seem to be rushing toward impeachment by any means necessary, including an inquiry that actually isn’t an inquiry and seems designed to deliver a party-line vote before the year is out as opposed to actually, you know, doing inquiry-like stuff.
Slotkin has tried to make it clear that this is the last thing she wanted to do but, of course, Trump’s behavior forced her to take this path.
“As you know there have been people who have been calling for impeachment for a long time, even before I got into Congress in January, and I have not been supportive of an impeachment inquiry up until now,” she said.
“Very specifically the issue that got to me was this idea that the president, the most powerful man in the world, reached out to a foreigner, a foreign leader, and asked him to dig up dirt on an American.”
That drew loud objections from the crowd, and actually was not an accurate description of Trump’s phone call — although it’s interesting to note that she’s admitting there likely is, in fact, “dirt” to be found on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s dealings with Ukraine.
In fact, as the Washington Examiner notes, some constituents responded by calling her out on the fact that statement wasn’t true or telling Slotkin it was “fake news!”
No, I doubt she was going to win over a voter who was going to come out to a packed event and tell her that this was a “coup against our president” or someone who yells out “fake news!” However, there are probably a lot of those swingy (I have that neologism stuck in my head now; goshdarn you, Mr. Hemond) voters who are thinking something not entirely dissimilar.
If the Democrats fail to heed the warning on impeachment inherent in Rep. Slotkin’s reception in her district last week, Donald Trump is going to have a significantly easier path to a second term — and the Democrats also won’t have a house of Congress under their control to act as a check on the GOP’s power.
Good luck, Rep. Slotkin. You and your fellow freshmen Democrats — at least those who aren’t members of “the squad” — are going to need it.
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