Leadership Ignoring Reality
By Stephen Tuttle | April 29, 2023
The Michigan Republican Party is very close to losing its way, at least at the top. They seem to have no overriding philosophy or political ideology. Like the Democrat party, the GOP mostly begs for money they can use to attack the other party. But the Republicans have gone completely off the rails and away from issues of importance to Michigan residents. If their current leadership is truly reflective of Michigan Republicans, they are in deep, deep trouble come election time.
Republicans took a serious beating at the polls in Michigan in 2022. They lost control of both the state House and Senate for the first time in nearly 40 years. In response to their historical beatdown—in addition to gaining control of both houses of the legislature, Democrats easily reelected the governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and maintained control of the state supreme court—Republicans made an odd choice to chair the state party apparatus. Very odd, though they didn’t really have many top-notch candidates.
It came down to a pair of election-deniers, Kristina Karamo and Matthew DePerno, both of whom lost their own statewide races and no wonder.
Both Karamo and DePerno were, and are, Trump True Believers and major election losers. DePerno lost his bid for attorney general by more than 150,000 votes, and Karamo lost her race for secretary of state by a record-breaking 14 percentage points and a whopping 600,000 votes. Neither opted to concede their races, joining Trump, Arizona’s Kari Lake, and a handful of other defeated Republicans around the country ignoring reality, claiming fraud, and continuing to whistle into the wind.
(Let’s take a moment to discuss election concessions which, in a word, are meaningless. They have no constitutional or statutory basis at any level and have no impact on an election outcome. In fact, states require all votes be counted, canvassed, and certified whether somebody concedes or not. It is actually possible for a candidate to concede and still win once all votes are counted. Concessions are a courtesy and nothing more.)
Kristina Karamo defeated Matthew DePerno at the GOP convention and is now the Chair of the Michigan Republican Party. She is an unusual choice to lead any legitimate organization.
An election-denier and conspiracy theorist, Karamo is a proud anti-vaxxer, bragging she’s only ever received one vaccine as a child. She is somehow in favor of inoculations, which she does not understand are basically the same as vaccinations.
She has said public schools are “government indoctrination camps” and that abortion is a “satanic practice” of “child sacrifice.” She has compared gun registration and red flag laws to the Holocaust. She claims a Beyoncé album cover is an attempt to convert Black Americans to paganism. She has claimed that yoga is a “satanic ritual” and that demonic possession is real and can be transferred from one person to another through “intimate relationships.”
You’d think that would all be quite wacky enough, but you would be very wrong.
Karamo has publicly said that accepting gay and transgender Americans will lead directly to pedophilia. She referred to leaders of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests as “Marxist witches,” and calls evolution “one of the biggest scams in human history.” And she compared the media to Nazis and said Republicans would be rounded up and either killed or put in camps to die.
All of that is just a small sample of Karamo’s unusual and destructive views which have been widely reported.
It should be noted her opponent for the party leadership role was no day at the beach himself. Matthew DePerno, another election-denier and leader of completely unsuccessful efforts to find and prove voter fraud in the 2020 elections, has his own checkered past. He was fired from a law firm in 2005 for padding bills, has been accused of keeping settlement money meant for clients, and was even accused of assaulting a client in a dispute over his billing practices. DePerno claimed all of it was either simple misunderstandings or actions that were normal in contentious legal proceedings. He also orchestrated the case claiming voter, or voter machine, fraud in Antrim County, which was eventually dismissed for a total lack of evidence.
This is where Michigan Republicans find themselves today, led by a chair who has little interest in real issues and plenty of interest in fringe conspiracies and other odd notions. To be sure, there are Republicans at local levels focused on inflation, debt reduction, protecting our national interests, rational gun registration, and issues important to a constituency not so much interested in paganism or other flights of fancy.
They will be best served by focusing on local races and simply ignoring leadership that has lost touch with both real issues and actual reality.