On January 10, Michigan House Representative Peter Meijer was one of ten House Republicans to break from their party to vote to impeach former President Trump on the grounds of incitement of an insurrection. The impeachment, which was a direct result of the January 6 rally that climaxed with an assault on the Capitol, was met with bipartisan support. However, Republicans such as Meijer are already facing backlash from within their party. The vote to impeach the former president was the fourth in history, and Trump is the first president to ever be impeached twice. Although the former president officially condemned the violence a week later, many members of Congress felt this was too little too late considering President Trump’s rhetoric leading up to the events of January 6.
As a freshman in the House representing Michigan’s third congressional district, which includes much of the Grand Rapids area, Meijer condemned the attacks on the Capitol, those who incited the violence and those pushing controversial theories surrounding the riots and claims of election fraud. As a result of his decision, Meijer expected early on to face opposition from more conservative members of his party during the primary elections.
One candidate from Ada, Michigan, Tom Norton, has already announced his primary challenge to Meijer’s seat. Norton believes the impeachment was a rush to judgment and accused Meijer of disregarding his promise to support former President Trump. Meijer told the Detroit Free Press that although the vote to impeach may have been “political suicide,” Meijer still felt strongly compelled to vote “to have accountability in this moment to set a path to moving forward.”
Not only is his political career in jeopardy, but Meijer is now also facing violent threats against him for voting against the former president. Meijer described in an interview with MSNBC that he had even purchased body armor for protection. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next. We weren’t expecting for the Capitol to get overrun for the first time in 200 years,” Meijer said. “And so in this unprecedented environment with an unprecedented degree of fear of divisiveness and hatred, we have to account for every scenario.”
For some Hope students, Meijer’s decision went far beyond party politics. “No matter what political party you support it is obvious that the attack on the Capitol was an attack on democracy,” freshman Marisa Vitale said. “As a Michigan voter, I am glad to see both parties recognizing the gravity of the impeachment and taking the right steps toward improving our government.”