Elissa Slotkin breaks it down: How Michiganders would feel a Trump victory

Elissa Slotkin breaks it down: How Michiganders would feel a Trump victory

US Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., addresses the media after holding a constituent community conversation at Oakland University, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in this file photo. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

By Bonnie Fuller

April 11, 2024

For the first time in American history, a major party’s presidential nominee has announced plans to act as a dictator if elected, repeating plans to effectively end the traditional democratic system of government that the country has operated on for almost 250 years.

US Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan is not OK with that.

The Holly native, who has represented Michigan’s 8th District in Congress since 2019, wants to ensure that Michigan voters understand what losing democracy will be like for them and their families if they elect Donald Trump to lead the nation.

As a first step in breaking down how Michiganders’ lives will change under Trump’s plan, Slotkin—who is running to fill Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s Senate seat after the longtime lawmaker retires this year—points out how the former president’s insistence that he won the 2020 election has convinced a segment of Michigan’s population that no election results can be trusted—even with all evidence pointing to the contrary.

“We saw how effective he was at putting these seeds of doubt into every election across the country,” Slotkin says, in an exclusive interview with The ‘Gander. “When the President of the United States says that elections aren’t real and that illegal voters are voting, it creates these seeds of doubt at every level of democracy.”

Slotkin also reminds Michiganders that Trump has repeatedly called for political violence against local election officials.

“We saw in my own district threats of violence,” she warns.

Slotkin wants to make Michiganders aware of how sowing distrust in an election system that the country has valued for generations can have ripple effects that lead to destabilization. If people can’t agree on who is actually in power, dangerous things follow, she says.

“Once you can’t figure out who’s governing, once you don’t have consensus from the people that, ‘Okay, whether I like this person or not, they won. And now, they’re the mayor, they’re the state rep, they’re the congressperson,’ it creates chaos.”

Slotkin is drawing a throughline between Trump’s undermining of his own election to consequences for Michiganders in their local elections—the foundation of a democratic system that is “of the people, by the people, for the people,” as President Abraham Lincoln famously said.

“How do you pick up the trash? Who pays for picking up the trash? If you can’t decide on who your local mayor is, how do you figure out your assessment on your house for taxes?,” she asks. “If the local government isn’t functioning, it starts to affect real people in a very real way.”

Slotkin also warns that a Trump dictatorship would be disastrous for the economy. Some Michiganders may think that, as a businessman, Trump will be able to wrestle the international issue of inflation to the ground and grow the economy at more than the 22% rate that President Joe Biden has.

Fact check: The economy only grew 14% during Trump’s first term in office. He also created on average 176,000 monthly jobs—compared to Biden, who has averaged 400,000 a month.

Rep. Slotkin wants Michiganders to rethink any assumptions that Trump will be good for their pocketbooks.

Predictability is important for business, she emphasizes, “and Donald Trump is not known for his predictability. The stock market does not like chaos. Every business owner, every person I know who’s active in the stock market will say that the best thing for American businesses, big or small, is to have predictability and stability.

“We need to know what the regulations are, what the rules are,” she continues. “We need to know that in advance and then we can make decisions [whether] we can buy another location or not. We can save our money or spend our money.”

But when American businesspeople and business owners are dependent on the varying whims of just one person, it becomes difficult to actually do business, emphasizes Slotkin.

“When our pendulum swings back and forth like this, when there’s no predictability on whether there are going to be new tariffs on businesses abroad—are there going to be new rules?—then they can’t make important decisions and grow their businesses.”

Slotkin’s own father, Curt, is now planning to vote for Biden after voting Republican his entire adult life. The shift is due to his experiencing Trump’s chaotic approach to business and the American economy during his presidential term, Slotkin says.

“We come from a family business, the hot dog business,” she explains, referencing the Hygrade Meat Company, the original company behind Ball Park Franks, “and chaos—not knowing who you can sell to and buy from, not knowing what new crazy thing is going to happen—is not good for business. So that’s part of the reason that he can’t stand Trump, even though he is a Republican.”

Slotkin added that her dad’s values haven’t changed, but he believes the party’s have. “The party just has a different agenda now that it’s completely owned and co-opted by Trump.”

Economic chaos and the dysfunction of local governments in Michigan are two of the results that Slotkin warns state residents to expect if Trump is allowed to dismantle American democracy. But Slotkin has an even stronger fear of what Trump will do to ordinary citizens who object to losing that democracy.

She says citizens may feel the need to take to the streets to protest, but could be met with violent resistance. After all, his “past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior,” she says.

“In Lafayette Square in front of the White House [during the Black Lives Matter protests that followed George Floyd’s murder], he used the military to push away peaceful protestors because he wanted to go get a photo with a Bible in front of St. John’s Church,” she recalls.

“He used helicopters flying low as crowd control in the District of Columbia. So I think we have to believe him when he’s telling us these things. “

Project 2025 describes Trump’s specific plan to invoke the Insurrection Act on his Inauguration Day to quell any protests with the military after he’s elected.

“It seems so outrageous that the American public’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s just Trump again, just saying stuff,’ and he says so much that you get dull to it,” Slotkin says. “We have to believe him and understand what that means for our daily lives if he’s re-elected.”

Among other troubling statements, Slotkin is concerned about Trump’s repeated declarations that he hopes to act as a “dictator for a day” immediately following his inauguration if elected—so as to push through his agenda in an undemocratic manner.

“You know why I wanted to be a dictator?” he reportedly told the New York Young Republican Club in December. “Because I want a wall, and I want to drill, drill, drill,”

He’s also made it clear he would exact ‘‘retribution” against his political opponents and the press, if elected again. He has plans to give himself unprecedented power over the entire nonpartisan civil service, hiring only people who are personally loyal to him. He said he wants to use the military to quell any protests against him, and launch a detailed program to round up and deport 18 million immigrants—holding them in detention camps throughout the process. Meanwhile, children are still waiting to be reunited with their parents after his last attempt at a similar program.

All of Trump’s extremely detailed plans are outlined in Project 2025, his presidential transition project that lays out a blueprint for transforming the democracy that Americans value to into an autocracy in which the president and his executive branch hold all power.

In other words, Donald Trump envisions a government that operates less like America and more similar to Hungary and Russia.

“We’ve seen Trump 1.0 as president,” Slotkin says. “This would be Trump 2.0 as unrestrained. He has been very clear on what he’s going to do.”

Author

  • Bonnie Fuller

    Bonnie Fuller is the former CEO & Editor-in-Chief of HollywoodLife.com, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, USWeekly and YM. She now writes about politics and reproductive rights.

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