Opinion: I’m a former Republican. What happened to Michigan’s GOP?

The Michigan Republican Party has devolved into conspiracies

click to enlarge Michigan Republican candidate for governor Tudor Dixon speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas. - Shutterstock
Shutterstock
Michigan Republican candidate for governor Tudor Dixon speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas.

I'm having deja vu after this month's primary. Last summer, after our Republican-led state senate found no fraud in the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump said, "The Senate ‘investigation’ of the election is a coverup." He then called Detroit the "most corrupt election city in the U.S."

Since then, he has made it his mission to take revenge on our state, endorsing more than 20 candidates up and down the ballot. In return, these candidates endorse similar baseless claims about the 2020 election and other anti-democratic conspiracies.

I don't recognize our state's GOP anymore. Not too long ago, I campaigned for Rick Snyder and his non-partisan and transparent leadership. It pains me to say it, but as a lifelong conservative, I cannot support Republican candidates who are out of touch with reality.

Regardless of how you feel about Trump, these candidates are too focused on an old election to focus on delivering results. Michigan has serious problems, and we need leaders who look toward the future, not through a rearview mirror.

It's hard to know where to start with our menu of GOP candidates. At the top of the ticket for governor, Tudor Dixon wants you to think she is a moderate conservative. But don't be fooled. The real Dixon is dangerous and extreme.

Two days after receiving Trump's endorsement, Dixon wouldn't answer whether she believed the election was stolen. However, during May and July debates, she confidently said that she believed Trump won the 2020 election in Michigan and the country. In 2021, she suggested that a left-wing group was involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection and tweeted, “Steal an election then hide behind calls for unity and leftists lap it up.

Dixon previously said she was pro-life with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the mother's life. She now claims to advocate exceptions for a mother's life but still said last month that a 14-year-old victim of incestual rape was a "perfect example" of prohibiting abortion.

It pains me to say it, but as a lifelong conservative, I cannot support Republican candidates who are out of touch with reality.

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She has taken up other far-right crusades, supporting a "Don't Say Gay” bill, speaking at anti-vaccine rallies, waging war with drag queens, and claiming Gov. Gretchen Whitmer intentionally released COVID-19 into nursing homes. At an anti-public safety protest, Dixon said Whitmer "has a Gestapo to come by for her," referencing the secret police of Nazi Germany.

Kristina Karamo is running for secretary of state. I'll admit, I don’t know everything that the secretary of state does, but, clearly, based upon her background and comments, Karamo has no business holding this office. Trump has taken an interest in this race because this office is in charge of election administration. Until last year, Karamo was an unknown poll worker who began appearing on Fox News to claim that illegal ballots were tallied at the former TCF Center in Detroit. Karamo believes Trump won the 2020 election and, this month, shared a link to a post that claimed Trump already won 2024 and will restore "justice against the enemies of America."

Karamo supports QAnon and other far-right conspiracies. She claimed that anyone who supports reproductive rights "must worship Satan." Karamo even attacked Ariana Grande for putting children "under a satanic delusion," blamed Beyoncé for leading "Black Americans into paganism," and called Jay-Z a "Satanist."

Lastly, Matt DePerno is running for attorney general. He is one of the biggest proponents of Stop the Steal, meeting with Trump on Jan. 6, appearing at Capitol rallies calling for a "forensic audit," and leading the conspiracy-laden and ultimately failed litigation effort that sought to overturn Antrim County’s election. This month, DePerno was named in a criminal investigation of alleged voting machine tampering.

As attorney general, DePerno says he will prosecute women and their doctors — with no exceptions — for seeking abortions. As a lawyer, DePerno was fired from his firm for padding client billings, investigated for legal malpractice, and accused of assaulting a client.

It's time to move on from the 2020 election, but that's hard to do with candidates that all have taken up the crusade against our elections, elected officials, the rule of law, and democracy. We should all recognize that there is a cost to this craziness, and that cost is a lack of leadership that’s focused on fixing real issues. If we want responsible leadership in Lansing, then voting for candidates who are true public servants, even Democrats, is the only option.

Reavis Graham is a former Republican from Milford.

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