‘If I act unilaterally, or what’s perceived as unilaterally and leave my community behind, then it looks like a power grab…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) As news broke last week that more than half of House Democrats now support impeaching President Donald Trump—despite lacking the cause to do so—at least one swing-district party member was less than thrilled.
“We need to move forward in a way that brings the community with us, because if I act unilaterally, or what’s perceived as unilaterally and leave my community behind, then it looks like a power grab,” Underwood said on the podcast Recode Decode With Kara Swisher.
Underwood, who lives in Naperville, Ill., and represents what she described as a half-suburban, half-rural community just west of Chicago, said that many of her constituents tended to “shut down” at mention of the word Russia.
“[Y]ou can’t even get to investigation or impeachment because it’s just noise to them,” she said. “It’s been like this endless bickering. They don’t really know who’s at fault; [they don’t] care because it’s not addressing the core issues affecting their family.”
Underwood was one of the many freshman Democrats in the House who helped usher in the current majority last election by defeating incumbent Republicans.
But she warned that the creep of socialism and extremist positions into her party—including those advocated by many of the current Democratic primary candidates—could result in yet another seat-flip in the 2020 election, this time against them.
With Trump still popular in her district, she said she—and many other vulnerable Democrats, cannot afford to wait until next year and hope the eventual candidate pivots toward the center.
“If I’m forced to run the 2020 presidential in the Illinois 14th, we will lose,” she said. “And I will lose along with many other Democrats in swing seats, and we will lose the House.”
Underwood, who was previously a nurse, encouraged her fellow party members to stay on message by hammering healthcare—which she said is what drew her into the political sphere in the first place.
“We won really for, I’d say, three reasons. No. 1, health care was the No. 1 issue throughout the whole campaign,” she said.
However, Underwood said the second and third reasons were all about connecting with her community and proving to them that she was willing to work hard.
In a district that had long been represented by disgraced former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, voters who felt a sense of “deep betrayal” at having been taken for granted were eager to send a message, she said.
“[A] lot of the moderate Republicans and independent voters … were not happy with that level of nonresponsiveness, inaccessibility and nontransparency,” she added.
Still, many of them supported Trump and the Republican candidate for governor while voting for Underwood in the down-ballot race. She worried that voters’ trust in her could be destroyed by Democrats at the top making the same mistakes as her GOP predecessors.
“[W]e knew that, in our community, we would not be successful if our race was about partisanship,” she said. ” … The Democratic Party in our state is run by a machine. The machine ends up being pretty toxic, you know, doesn’t have a lot of fans out our way.”