Back in April I used this space to raise a cautionary flag about the effort launched by the National Republican Party to sully the reputation of two congresswomen from Oakland County – Democrats Haley Stevens and Elissa Slotkin – both of whom at that writing had spent less than three months in the U.S. House following their election in the fall of 2018.
I expressed concern then that the GOP would weaponize the label of “progressives” – think the “progressive squad” comprising renegade Democrat caucus members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib (from Detroit) – and apply it to these two House members once we got into the heat of the 2020 election to create a false narrative in an attempt to erode their standing back home.
Well, the 2020 contest is already reaching fever pitch and in recent weeks we now witness the Michigan Republican Party joining in on the Slotkin/Stevens disinformation campaign as these two Oakland County members of Congress have lent their voices to the growing Washington D.C. call for impeachment hearings on President Trump's effort to solicit foreign governments to interfere in our national election by digging up possible dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden. Certainly an impeachable offense, without even considering the Mueller report conclusions (yes, I read it more than once) that – for the record – did not clear Trump of collusion as he would have his sycophants and rally audiences believe.
I did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday, as the colloquial expression goes, when it comes to politics in general, much less the politics of impeachment. I was tuned in starting with the Nixon impeaching hearings, just to date myself, as well the impeachment of Clinton. One would expect a united front of defense from Republican National Committee (RNC) officials, led by chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, she of the Romney political dynasty, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, raised in Bloomfield Hills. Since her elevation to the top GOP spot in 2017, she has built a track record of fawning over Trump in her national role. I was particularly disappointed when Michigan Republican party chair Laura Cox jumped with Romney McDaniel on the disinformation train of late to call out the congresswomen from Oakland County. From her I had hoped for more elevated political discourse this election season.
But the Republican party, nationally and certainly in Oakland County, is in a death spiral, for a variety of reasons.
The Republican party has finally realized, in just under three years, it is no longer the GOP of old. The party, lock, stock and barrel, is the party of Trump. Forget about the storied GOP history of pushing an inclusive racial agenda that included an end to slavery, helped create the Environmental Protection Agency or built its reputation for conservative spending, just to name a few stanchions that have been kicked asunder by Trump.
While the vast majority of Republicans – some 90 percent, according to recent polls – still back him, Trump is off-putting to a growing number of people, including the all important Independents who, face it, will be a major factor in the 2020, as well as future, elections. Trump may be able to hold and energize his base of support with his ongoing attacks on the media, Twitter account assaults on those daring to criticize his policies or lack thereof, the xenophobic schtick, and his false characterization of what his presidency has accomplished, but it is unlikely membership will be increasing in that party which is already having a tough time finding respectable candidates here in Oakland County to run for some offices. As for the wayward Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016, count many of them returning to the fold in 2020.
Is it any wonder that the national and now the Michigan Republican party officials are in a panic? No other way to put it.
As for the congresswomen from Oakland, neither is a member of the committees now holding hearings on possible impeachment of Trump. Both have shown they can walk and chew gum at the same time – lending support for the hearings yet not deterring them from the other tasks at hand.
Voters in 2018, determined to send two strong women to Congress from districts that had been under the gerrymandered stranglehold of the GOP. Both are alumni of past presidential administrations – Stevens as part of the Obama Auto Task Force that helped bail out that industry and Slotkin who served in Intelligence as a CIA officer and did three tours of duty in Iraq, while also having served the George W. Bush administration and helped shape foreign policy for the Bush and Obama administrations. They brought to Washington D.C. experience and a familiarity with Congress that gives them some added cachet as part of the 62 new members of House elected last year. Both are considered moderate Democrats. Both are pragmatists.
In the case of Slotkin, her 8th District includes Rochester, most of Rochester Hills, the large swath of the north Oakland area, along with portions of Livingston and Ingham counties.
Under the Committee of Armed Services, she serves on the subcommittees for Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities; and subcommittee on Readiness. Under the Committee on Homeland Security, she is a member of the subcommittees on Counterterrorism and Intelligence; and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection.
Slotkin has a list of issues on which she has been actively working in Congress, ranging from veterans' affairs, lowering drug costs raising worker wages, retirement savings, funding to remedy the PFAS problem, Michigan road and water infrastructure.
Aside from congressional work, Slotkin has held more local district town hall meetings than any past representative from this district.
As for Stevens, her 11th District encompasses Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Troy, a small piece of Rochester Hills, the west Oakland lakes area and portions of western Wayne County. She is a member of two subcommittees with the House Committee on Education & Labor – the subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and the subcommittee on Workforce Protections. Under the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, she chairs the Research & Technology subcommittee and is a member of the House subcommittee on Energy.
Stevens has worked diligently on behalf of the manufacturing community in this district, acting as a strong advocate for both the manufacturing and remanufacturing section as she worked on a bipartisan basis to pass legislation and authored successful bills. Stevens has backed legislation to improve the Affordable Care Act, has pushed to force the EPA to prioritize funding for development of a national strategy to ensure the economic viability of local recycling efforts, has focused some of her energy on vulnerabilities in voting technology and remains a spokesperson for education issues.
Stevens has hosted countless in-district town hall meetings and has quickly built a reputation of having developed an effective office operation to help constituents navigate the government and resolve problems.
In just the first nine months of a two-year term, both of these women have accomplished more than anyone we have sent to Washington since I started monitoring Congress, dating back to when Bill Broomfield was in Washington D.C.
Local residents need to keep this in mind as the masters of deceit start spinning out a different narrative from now until November of 2020. Call it for what it truly is.