Congressman Jeff Van Drew’s refusal to join an overwhelming majority of his Democratic colleagues in the House is threatening to damage his hold on South Jersey politics.
By David Todd McCarty | Friday, October 4, 2019
The winds of change have shifted in recent days, with a majority of members of the House of Representatives committed to voting yes on an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. For months, public opinion for impeachment had been underwater for the Democrats with a majority of Americans being against it, even as the President’s favorability in the polls remained in the low 40’s. But with the release of the whistleblower report and subsequent revelations about the actions of the President and his administration, that calculus has changed.
Just a day after the readout of the rough transcript of Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had the votes she needed to announce she was officially opening an Impeachment inquiry. In order to pass a vote, she needed at least 218 votes and she now had them. Within days, as more and more information came out, that number has now risen to 226.
Here in South Jersey, only one member of Congress stands against impeachment and that’s Representative Jeff Van Drew. His quote to the New York Times was, “If something else comes up that is really clear high crimes and misdemeanors it will be so bad the majority of times you are going to have bipartisan support.”
High crimes and misdemeanors is an old English phrase that doesn’t refer to the level of crimes, but rather of the level of the office and the wrongdoing that would be seen as unfit for the office they hold. Impeachment doesn’t necessarily mean removal from office. An impeachment inquiry is simply an investigation with teeth.
Either Rep. Van Drew doesn’t understand the law, or he is more concerned with having the support of his Republican colleagues than he is of supporting his own party, let alone the rule of law in America. He doesn’t seem interested in even learning if the President has violated his oath of office. But let’s be honest, really what he’s afraid of are Trump supporters.
President Trump has admitted to using the power of his office to ask a foreign leader to interfere in the 2020 election in order to benefit him personally. It’s not any more complicated than that. We don’t need to know anymore, although daily there seems to be more to be learned.
Republicans have been arguing that there was no quid quo pro, meaning Trump didn’t specifically say he was holding back military aid to Ukraine in exchange for their assistance in digging up dirt on his political opponents. Today, text messages between American diplomats reveal that that’s exactly what they were concerned was happening.
Donald Trump has proven himself ill-suited for the job of President from the day he took office, but as time has gone on, and he’s not only ignored democratic norms and flouted convention, he has shown contempt for the Constitution and the rule of law. He believes he is above the law, and would set himself up as an absolute dictator if he thought he could get away with it.
Congressman Van Drew likes to cozy up to the military and the police, in an effort to shore up his tough guy image, but the truth is, he doesn’t believe in the rule of law. Just like his Republican colleagues, he is more concerned with holding onto power at any cost than he is with defending the Constitution he took an oath to uphold.
Van Drew might eventually, yet grudgingly, vote yes to moving forward with an official inquiry when it’s put to a full House vote, but I wouldn’t count on it, nor would it matter. He’s made his stance clear. He’s worried about being re-elected and he fears retribution from Republicans in his district. Seven other freshmen Democrats from vulnerable districts that voted for Trump, came forward before Pelosi agreed to bring an official impeachment inquiry to bear. All seven were actual veterans of either the military or the intelligence community. There were all considered moderate Democrats. They all came out in favor of an inquiry because they felt it was more important to protect their country than their jobs.
Team South Jersey is the moniker for Van Drew and his band of moderate Democrats that have been placed in power by the powerful New Jersey Democratic machine run by power broker George Norcross. They are Congressman Jeff Van Drew, State Senator Sgt. Bob Andrzejczak, Assemblyman Bruce Land and Assemblyman Matt Milam. They have all tied their wagons to Van Drew as loyal members of his team. They are understandably worried that they will be challenged from the right if they are seen as too liberal, but what they fail to understand is that they are alienating every Democrat in each of their districts.
Andrzejczak was recently attacked from a Republican challenger accusing him of being in the pocket of the liberals in Trenton. He countered that his opponent was jumping into an issue that they had no part in. And that’s the problem with South Jersey. We don’t actually have very many actual Democrats in office. They are Republican-lite politicians, masquerading as Democrats. They are loyal to no ideology other than power. They vote where the wind blows and they need to be voted out.
The Democratic Party in Cape May County is completely beholden to this same machine and curries favor for any chance to raise money for local candidates. Someone has to break this ugly pattern and put forward actual Democrats with progressive ideas capable of challenging the corrupt Republican network of good-old boys that control this county. Any candidate who feels they need to be part of this team in order to win, will be beholden to them, not to the voters. They will vote as a block, not as individuals. There is no courage there.
We used to have politicians with courage. People of principle. People who stood up for what was right, no matter how hard. Congressman Van Drew likes to represent himself as an independent thinker that will buck his party on principle. The problem is, we see where his principles lie. He voted against no for Speaker Pelosi. He voted no on gun control. He voted no on marriage equality. He doesn’t represent Democratic values yet he leads Team South Jersey. So you have to ask yourself, what is the point of voting for these Democrats?
Talk to your representatives. Question your candidates. Power isn’t worth selling out your ideals. If this is truly a country that believes in freedom, democracy and the rule of law, it’s time to elect candidates who actually believe in it.