Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan formally declared that he is leaving the GOP due to President Donald Trump’s baseless attempts at reversing the election results.
Mitchell sent a letter to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), which was obtained by CNN, requesting that the clerk of the House change his party affiliation to “independent” for the remainder of his term, confirming his withdrawal from the Republican party.
The outgoing Michigan congressman noted that although he voted for Trump in the 2020 election as the president’s policies during the last four years have been “positive for our nation,” Mitchell said it is “unacceptable” for politicians to “treat our election system as though we are a third- world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote.”
“Further, it is unacceptable for the president to attack the Supreme Court of the United States because its judges, both liberal and conservative, did not rule with his side or that ‘the Court failed him.’ It was our Founding Fathers’ objective to insulate the Supreme Court from such blatant political motivations,” Mitchell wrote.
“If Republican leaders collectively sit back and tolerate unfounded conspiracy theories and ‘stop the steal’ rallies without speaking out for our electoral process, which the Department of Homeland Security said was ‘the most secure in American history,’ our nation will be damaged,” he added. “I have spoken out clearly and forcefully in opposition to these messages. However, with the leadership of the Republican Party and our Republican Conference in the House actively participating in at least some of those efforts, I fear long-term harm to our democracy.”
Mitchell also said that political leaders, including the president, must be willing to accept wins and losses with “grace and maturity.”
But he also agreed that there were likely some “disconcerting aspects to this election” like “administrative errors and even some fraudulent voting likely occurred” because of the overall size of the voter turnout. “However, the president and his legal team have failed to provide substantive evidence of fraud or administrative failure on a scale large enough to impact the outcome of the election,” Mitchell said.
Experts suggest that few in the GOP will follow suit in withdrawing from the party.
“Given that Mitchell is a retiring congressman, this seems more symbolic than anything. I suspect many are struggling with the president’s actions, but those with future political aspirations have a more challenging calculation to make,” Dr. Amel Ahmed, author and associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said. Dr. Ahmed also added that congressmen must weigh the “electoral consequences” of mending their affiliations, as some may be “pushed out by primary challengers” if they switch party lines, while others who “cannot countenance the President’s behavior” would “depart for an uncertain future.”
“But overall, I do not foresee a trend of GOP departures,” Ahmed said. “As long as party leadership refuses to take a stand, individual politicians are left having to navigate very complicated terrain on their own. And even for those who disapprove of the president’s actions, there is tremendous pressure to stay put.”
Dr. Raymond La Raja, author and political science professor at UMass Amherst, echoed Ahmed’s remarks by saying, “It is too politically dangerous for them to challenge Trump until they see a weakening of public support for him. That is unlikely to happen any time soon.”
At one point, Mitchell addressed McDaniel directly in the letter regarding Michigan’s 2020 election results saying, “Ronna, you know Michigan politics well. President Trump did not lose Michigan because of Wayne County, but rather he lost because of dwindling support in areas including Kent and Oakland County, both previous Republican strongholds.”
“Those Republicans who have challenged Trump directly are either out of government or intending to leave soon, like Rep Mitchell,” La Raja said. “For the most part, the Republicans in Michigan, particularly the leadership elected to the statehouse, have done an admirable job performing their constitutional duties in upholding the validity of the election, despite the flak they get from Trump. That is crucial. And just doing that is hurting their political future in the party, but not as much as if they tweeted put-downs of the president.”
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill.
Image: Rep. Paul Mitchell's Facebook Page.