The biggest irony of the last couple of weeks has to be Rep. Peter Meijer’s loss in the Western Michigan Republican primary. As recently as the beginning of this year, The Atlantic did an in-depth profile on Meijer and how he was at odds with his own party of the impeachment of Donald Trump and other issues related to the former president.
The piece, by Tim Alberta, is entitled What the GOP Does to Its Own Dissenters. The profile centered around the premise that in opposing the former president, Meijer had put himself in the crosshairs of his own party.
At one point, Meijer described to me the psychological forces at work in his party, the reasons so many Republicans have refused to confront the tragedy of January 6 and the nature of the ongoing threat. Some people are motivated by raw power, he said. Others have acted out of partisan spite, or ignorance, or warped perceptions of truth and lies. But the chief explanation, he said, is fear. People are afraid for their safety. They are afraid for their careers. Above all, they are afraid of fighting a losing battle in an empty foxhole.
Meijer described a group of colleagues too afraid to do what they knew was right and stand with him.
The irony came in the fact that ultimately, Meijer was not driven to defeat by his own party, as Alberta had strongly hinted that he might be in his profile. Meijer was defeated in his primary because the Democrats pumped a half a million dollars into the campaign of Meijer’s opponent, John Gibbs, a Republican with a Trump endorsement. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has begun a pattern of supporting candidates who are most closely aligned with the twice-impeached former president by providing significant monetary support, reasoning that they will be easier to defeat in the general elections that follow their primaries.
It’s an extremely cynical and disruptive play by the DCCC and, unsurprisingly, it has brought criticism.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who also voted to impeach Trump last year and is not seeking reelection, said that Democrats “own” Meijer’s loss, blaming them for compromising their own values by propping up the campaign of a candidate who has echoed Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
“Here’s the thing: don’t keep coming to me asking where are all the good Republicans that defend democracy and then take your donors’ money and spend half-a-million dollars promoting one of the worst election deniers that’s out there,” Kinzinger said on CNN. “The DCCC needs to be ashamed of themselves.”
The DCCC pouring funds into candidates who stand for everything they claim to be against is not only a dishonest strategy, it’s a risky one. If the candidate that they support wins in the general election, they will have gambled away their money (presumably from donors to the party) and be put in the situation of having to fend off another election denier who is fighting against the democratic process. It imperils not only their chances of passing legislation that the Democratic base would like to see, but also the workings of elections that safeguard our republic.
Given this strategy, it would be perhaps fitting if the new Democratic slogan became, “Democrats: We may not be as treacherous as Republicans, but give us some time.”