Today I received an email from Lon Johnson, the Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party. In it, he shared the following fact. “Every single Michigan Republican member of Congress,” he said, “voted in favor of the government shutdown.” I suppose I knew that, but, as I tend to hold those members of Congress who identify as Tea Party Republicans primarily responsible for the shutdown, I guess I’d been willing to give the others a pass… Well, after nine days of living without a properly functioning government, I’m beginning to see it differently. I’m to the point now where I don’t so much care if a particular Republican member of the House was one of 40-some treasonous zealots who, under the guidance of a handful of American billionaires, like the Koch brothers, were originally responsible for making this happen. Enough time has passed where I think they’re all culpable – not just the Michele Bachmanns of the party. (Bachman, by the way, came out a few days ago and announced that the “end times” are upon us, which I guess explains the nihilism which informs her policy positions… I imagine it must be pretty difficult think about the fact that clinical trials have come to a standstill, for instance, when you know that our lord and savior is on his way to rapture you away from all of this, repaying you for all that you’ve done for him here on Earth, by keeping health care from the sick and poor, trying to stop committed gay couples from marrying, and the like.)
Given all of this, I’m of the opinion that we need to start putting pressure not just on our favorite local Congressman, the terrifyingly delusional Kerry Bentivolio, but on all those Republicans who serve alongside him and his fellow Tea Partiers, who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to stand up to the more radical individuals in their party and demand that they honor their oath of office, and respect the rule of law. (Just a quick reminder… The Republicans have brought our nation to its knees because they don’t like the Affordable Care Act – a piece of legislation that has been passed by the Congress, signed into law by the President, and upheld by the Supreme Court. What they’re doing is extortion, plain and simple. And, as much as they’d like to blame the President for the shutdown, the American people know better.)
So, starting today, I’m going to begin calling Michigan’s House Republicans, and letting them know that I expect them to help stop this unprecedented hijacking of our American democracy.
Here they are – Michigan’s nine Republican members of the House… The ones marked with red circles are those who self-identify as Tea Partiers, and, as such, are likely more ideologically aligned with the Ted Cruz, the Republican Senator from Texas who helped orchestrate the shutdown with the help of the shadowy cabal of wealthy old men I alluded to earlier. All of nine of these members of Congress, however, as we discussed previously, supported the shutdown.
If you’d like to join me in calling them, you’ll find their contact information by following these links: Dan Benishek, Bill Huizenga, Justin Amash, Dave Camp, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg, Mike Rogers, Candice Miller, Kerry Bentivolio.
Can I count on you to make at least one call?
If you’ve never called the office of a member of Congress, don’t be scared. It’s pretty straightforward. You call, you give them your name, you tell them why you’re calling, an intern logs your call on a tally sheet, and, at the end of the day, the results are presented to the elected official, who then has to make a choice as to how he or she will respond… In this case, of course, our hope would be to convince him or her to pick up the phone, call Boehner’s office and say, “John, this shit has to stop, right the fuck now.”
Here, in case you’re curious, is what I plan to say when I call. Feel free to use it, if you like.
Hello. My name is Mark Maynard, and I’d like to register my opinion with regard to the Republican shutdown of the federal government over the Affordable Care Act. I don’t know the Congressman’s role in making this happen, but, as he voted in support of the shutdown, I will be making a cash contribution to his opponent during the next Republican primary, and I will encourage my friends and family members to do likewise… That is, if he doesn’t move swiftly to bring this poorly-thought-out, and completely unprecedented gambit to a speedy conclusion. The families of our veterans are not being paid, young cancer patients are not being enrolled in clinical trials, our state is losing $18 million dollars a day, and our counter-terrorism analysts have been furloughed. This is untenable. And I am personally holding the Congressman responsible… End this now, before any more damage is done to our nation… Stop listening to Ted Cruz, and listen to your own constituents. Or find yourself out of a job.
Of course, they’ll take your complaint more seriously if you’re a constituent, but they’ll still hear you out if you’re not. The objective is just to keep their switchboards lit up, and to let them know that we hold them responsible. So just keep talking. Tell them that you’ll be speaking with your friends and family members in the Congressman’s district, and then actually do just that… This has gone on long enough, and we need to make these nine individuals aware of the fact that we’re watching them. They need to know that, even if this wasn’t their idea, we know how they voted, and we intend to vote accordingly.
The good news is, they’re already feeling the heat. The following clip, which mentions two of the Michigan Congressmen noted above, is from today’s Washington Post:
Nearly three years after a band of renegade congressmen brought the tea party insurgency to Washington, there are early rumblings of a political backlash in some of their districts.
Here in the Dutch Reformed country of West Michigan, long a bastion of mainstream, mannerly conservatism, voters in 2010 handed the House seat once held by Gerald R. Ford to Justin Amash, a 33-year-old revolutionary and heir to the libertarian mantle of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Amash was part of an attempted coup against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) and is a leader of the House tea party faction that helped force a government shutdown last week.
But within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way — by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district. They are tired of tea party governance, as exemplified by the budget fight that led to the shutdown and threatens a first-ever U.S. credit default.
Similar efforts are underway in at least three other districts — one in the moneyed Detroit suburbs and the others in North Carolina and Tennessee — where business leaders are backing primary campaigns against Republican congressmen who have alienated party leaders. The races mark a notable shift in a party in which most primary challenges in recent years have come from the right.
“It’s a new dynamic, and we don’t know how far it’s going to go,” said Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman who is close to the House leadership. “All the energy in the Republican Party the last few years has come from the tea party. The notion that there might be some energy from the radical center, the people whose positions in the conservative mainstream are more center-right but who are just furious about the dysfunctionality of government — that’s different.”
But any move to take out a tea-party-aligned congressman in a Republican primary would be challenging, especially here in Michigan’s 3rd District, where grass-roots conservatives hold considerable sway. In the 2012 presidential primary, former senator Rick Santorum beat the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in this culturally conservative district, even though Romney carried the state.
…“I don’t see him as a collaborator, and I think that’s a huge problem,” Goebel, a former chair of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, said. “People used to say, ‘I don’t like the Congress, but I like my congressman.’ I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
There are similar sentiments 140 miles east in the tony Detroit suburbs of Oakland County, where businessman David Trott is waging a well-funded primary campaign to defeat Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R), a former high school teacher and reindeer rancher now dubbed by fellow Republicans the “accidental congressman.”
After longtime Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s reelection bid collapsed in 2012, Bentivolio was the only Republican on the ballot — and, in the GOP-leaning 11th District, he won.
Although Bentivolio aligns with tea party conservatives, he has not been as much of a thorn in the side of House leadership as Amash has; Boehner hosted a fundraiser for Bentivolio in the summer. But Bentivolio is struggling to prepare for reelection and has just $42,000 in cash on hand, according to campaign finance records. His spokesman did not respond to several requests for comment.
Trott, a longtime party donor and fixture, announced last week that he had raised $425,000 in the 26 days since launching his campaign…
While I doubt our calls would have much impact on either Bentivolio (because he knows his political career is almost over) or Amash (because Amway President Douglas L. DeVos is pulling the strings), I’ve got to think that that other seven folks identified above could be moved by a call in which a constituent says, “Look, I know Amash is more responsible for this than you are, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to hold you responsible for voting to support him in his effort to hold our nation hostage because he doesn’t like a particular law.”
So, how about making a call?