Congressman Bergman discusses alleged kidnap plot, COVID-19 during a visit to Marquette

MARQUETTE — U.S. District Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet, made several visits to the Marquette area in recent days in the middle of a tumultuous time, but expressed gratitude for law enforcement thwarting an alleged kidnapping plot of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Bergman, who represents the 1st Congressional District, stopped by The Mining Journal on Friday to discuss various issues, one of which was the bizarre plot to kidnap Whitmer.

The Associated Press reported that six men were charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap the governor in reaction to what they viewed as her “uncontrolled power,” according to a federal complaint. Seven others linked to a paramilitary group called the Wolverine Watchmen were charged separately in state court for allegedly seeking to storm the Michigan Capitol and seek a “civil war,” including four who allegedly helped to surveil Whitmer’s house.

“We can dwell on the negative or we can accentuate the positive,” Bergman said, noting that the positive is that law enforcement works — in many cases behind the scenes — to stop something before it happens.

“That’s one of the real values of having a well-funded, well-developed police force — law enforcement force — at all levels,” he said. “I congratulate that coordination effort, whether it be at the federal, state, (or) local level, to make sure that something like this doesn’t become a reality.”

Bergman called the United States a country of “law and order.”

“We are a country who respects the rights of others, but we have a constitution with which you resolve it,” Bergman said. “If you have a difference with someone in, let’s say an elected office, you vote them out.”

For example, Bergman mentioned the recent ruling of the Michigan Supreme Court against Whitmer regarding her use of executive orders in the COVID-19 crisis.

“The bottom line is we, as human beings, will do the right thing in the vast majority of time,” he said.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon, particularly in the western Upper Peninsula where spikes in positive cases have been seen in Houghton and Delta counties.

Bergman said he isn’t particularly worried about these rising levels.

Bergman said he recently talked about President Donald Trump’s positive coronavirus diagnosis with the Washington Examiner, a conservative news website and weekly magazine.

“I said, ‘Well, maybe we’re finally going to get a soup to nuts, beginning to end, when someone tested positive,'” Bergman said. “Here’s what happened. Here’s the protocols they went through. Here was their recovery rate.”

Bergman stressed that he is not someone who gets concerned, but instead takes notice.

“I don’t just look at something and forget it and move on,” Bergman said. “I’m always paying attention, so when I see a reported spike in something, what does that mean relative to what?

“I’m a data guy. Show me the data. Show me if 100 people get COVID, they test positive, what are the results for all 100 of them?”

Bergman is running against Democratic challenger Dana Ferguson in the Nov. 3 election.

“I encourage everybody to vote,” he said. “People served our country to protect that right to vote. Some gave their lives so we could have a right to vote. The only people I get concerned about are those who don’t exercise their right to vote.

“Make the effort, because if you don’t vote, you really lose your voice.”

Bergman expressed special concern about 18-year-olds who in his mind have no concept of civics, American history and constitutional government.

“Our middle schools and high schools do not teach American history,” Bergman said.

He called the situation “disturbing.”

“They’re going to be the next generation of leaders,” Bergman said.

He serves on House committees for Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs, but plans to expand that role.

Bergman said upon re-election, he will run for the position of committee chairman or ranking member, depending on how the majority comes out for the Republican side, on veterans’ affairs.

“That enables me, then, to take more of a leadership role in our side of the aisle,” Bergman said. “So, even though somebody may not be a veteran or may not be in the Armed Services, that gives me an opportunity to talk about things like education, financial services, agriculture, energy and commerce.

“So, I go from one voice in, let’s say 200 on the Republican side, to one voice in about 25 at the leadership table, so it gives me a larger voice,” Bergman said.

That’s important, he said, because 1st District citizens would know their congressman has more of a leadership role to hopefully produce more positive results for that district.

Bergman said another legislative priority for him is creating infrastructure that brings high-speed broadband connectivity to the entire 1st District, and especially the Upper Peninsula.

“If one thing has been pretty obvious since COVID, we don’t have the connectivity that we know we need just to live our daily lives,” Bergman said.

He has first-hand experience with the problem.

“If you want to see me on a videoconference call, I can see you, but my upload is not good enough for you to see me all the time,” Bergman said. “So, I have to drive 30 minutes to the end of the intersection in Watersmeet so that you can see me.”

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net


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