Outgoing Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) said people on the right seizing on conspiracy theories is giving Democrats a “tangible advantage” with the electorate.
In an interview with Politico published Monday, Meijer said conspiracy theories were leading conservatives “to go down these rabbit holes and chase their own tails.”
“So much of the energy is ultimately expended down avenues that are just hamster wheels. I think that gives Democrats a tangible advantage,” Meijer said. “We saw that electorally, when they can at least pretend to be speaking to issues and not seem crazy, even if they are unwilling to change their policy outcomes that are not making those issues better.
“At least rhetorically, they seem to be coming from a more reality-grounded place,” he added.
Meijer will exit Congress on Tuesday after losing to a Trump-backed opponent, John Gibbs, in his primary election last year.
Gibbs ultimately lost the Michigan district to a Democratic opponent in November. The loss was part of a largely disappointing midterm election cycle for Republicans, which saw the GOP only narrowly capture the House and fail to win control of the Senate.
Meijer pointed to the fact that Gibbs was a candidate backed by Trump — who he said “negatively impacted” the election by selecting poor candidates — and boosted by Democrats, who spent hundreds of thousands on ads in the primary as part of a strategy to elevate GOP candidates they believed they could more easily defeat in the general election.
“I think my rule of thumb is Republicans should probably not pick the person the Democrats want to be the candidate,” he told Politico. “If the Democratic incumbent is popping a bottle of champagne when they realize who their opponent is going to be, we probably didn’t make the right choice.”
Meijer was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Seven other lawmakers who voted to impeach the former president were defeated in primaries last year or opted not to seek reelection.
Meijer told Politico he would not consider running for office again at this time, saying he would rather avoid another race against a Trump opponent.
The Michigan lawmaker added that he has “no idea” how he would support Trump, who has officially declared another White House bid, for president in 2024.
“I want someone to demonstrate a track record of being able to win,” he said. “Hillary Clinton was probably the worst Democratic nominee of my lifetime.
“If he was outlining a positive agenda and speaking of the things that were started and hoping to be completed, if his message was about pointing the country in a better direction,” he added, “it would be very different than what we have right now, which is just like the pettiest of petty grievances.”