SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat who represents Michigan's 8th District, has had some sharp remarks for members of both parties recently. She was reelected in a district that voted for President Trump. She's a former intelligence analyst for the CIA and joins us now from Holly, Mich. Representative Slotkin, thanks so much.
ELISSA SLOTKIN: Thanks for having me.
SIMON: You had two Michiganders - the majority leader, Mike Shirkey, and the House speaker, Lee Chatfield - both meet with President Trump last night and said they, quote, had "not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan," a state clearly won by Joe Biden. Do you think that makes the point?
SLOTKIN: I think it was an important thing that they put that message out. I was glad to see it. We have an important meeting Monday that will hopefully conclude this chapter - this unfortunate chapter - in Michigan's history, and we will certify our elections. And that was a positive signal that we're going in the right direction, for sure.
SIMON: You've called on Republicans to choose between fealty to the president and democracy.
SLOTKIN: Yeah. I mean, that's really how stark I feel like it is right now. I mean, I think we all know we have a system. It's made up of rules and laws. And if there's concerns about fraud or abuse or any kind of, you know, mistakes in our election, then those, you know, people should come forward with that evidence. And if not, we got to move on as a country. And I think at this point, just looking around the country, we haven't seen those claims materialize, certainly not in court, where it really matters.
And I - what's been hard for me is to watch Republicans at all levels, frankly, refuse to sort of say it's time to move on. It feels like they are choosing the president above the democratic system. And that has real, real implications long-term. That worries me as someone who is from a district that Donald Trump won.
SIMON: And to be sure, you've had strong words for members of your own party. You say that Democrats can talk down to people. How so?
SLOTKIN: Well, I think that it's important to realize that, you know, we - sometimes it's important to have paragraphs and paragraphs of policies. And we all know it's important to have that sort of undergirding. But we also have to be able to speak to people, you know, through emotion and through stories and through the place where they are. We have to be able to talk about how we're going to help their pocketbooks or their kids or both in the next six months. They have to feel like we understand what they're going through. And I see that every day. People feel like the middle class is disappearing, and they don't feel like they see the party speaking to that specifically. And that's what I think needs to change.
SIMON: Well, you have also said that you'd like to see more people from the middle of the country in positions of congressional leadership. Now, you know, right now, as you pointed out, it's New York and California. When Democrats start detailing their coalition, they usually do not mention geography, but ethnicity and gender. What do you think is the effect of that?
SLOTKIN: Well, I think we're a diverse caucus, and that's one of our strengths. And I just think that that should include, you know, geographic diversity. And for us here in the middle of the country, we have a different history, right? The industrial Midwest has a different storyline than other parts of the country. And when we don't see - you know, people want to see themselves in leadership, and that goes for, you know, whether it's race, ethnicity, geography - the whole thing. People want to see themselves in leadership to know that their story is heard. And when we don't see Midwesterners, you know, in the top senior leader positions, in any of those positions, it is just - it's hard to explain to my constituents that Washington really understands them.
SIMON: You've also said members of your party in, you believe, talking down to people can make them feel like they - oh, don't you - why don't you understand what's good for you?
SLOTKIN: Yeah, there's a lot of that. There's a lot of, you know, if these people only understood, if these people just, you know, realized their own self-interests. And I feel like I can't think of something that is more offensive. People are just trying to get by. They have their kids. They have their life. And, you know, there's a whole bunch of reasons why they make the decisions that they do. But when someone comes in and says, you don't know what's good for you, there's something - there's nothing as off-putting as that for residents, in my experience.
SIMON: Representative Elissa Slotkin from Michigan, thanks so much for being with us.
SLOTKIN: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.