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South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick talks as South Carolina Republicans gather outside the offices of U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Mount Pleasant. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

Joe Cunningham just doesn’t get it.

The 1st District congressman is still “withholding judgment” on whether President Trump should be impeached for asking Ukraine to investigate his most formidable political rival.

Cunningham says he will patiently wait to hear all the facts, see the results of the inquiry before reaching any decision. The way most people not driven by hyper-partisanship would.

And the South Carolina Republican Party says that’s absolutely the wrong approach.

Earlier this week, state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick staged a protest in coordination with the Trump campaign at Cunningham’s Mount Pleasant office. He demanded that the congressman immediately denounce the frivolous, partisan efforts of his Democratic colleagues to hurt the president.

“He thinks he can play it safe and be on the fence,” McKissick said, before launching into a long, convoluted metaphor about roadkill.

McKissick and his minions, which included two Republicans vying for the chance to run against Cunningham, claimed the congressman is a poor example of his slogan “Lowcountry over party.”

Because he often, but not always, votes with his own party. And they interpreted that to mean he’d never vote with his party.

That clever play on “country over party” doesn’t wash with McKissick, a man so patriotic and devoted to this constitutional republic and party election laws that his party's executive committee canceled the 2020 South Carolina GOP presidential primary … despite having three legitimate challengers in the race.

These protesters want to know why Cunningham doesn’t show the conviction of former congressman Trey Gowdy, who a few years ago declared “the notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power, is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something.”

The same Gowdy who just came out of Washington retirement to defend the president … who has announced his staff won't comply with subpoenas or turn over documents to Congress.

Doesn’t the Lowcountry deserve a congressman with the same spine as Sen. Lindsey Graham? Twenty years ago, he claimed that a president who doesn’t comply with congressional requests for information is subject to impeachment. And who now he claims a president shown soliciting political favors from a foreign government in a White House-issued memorandum of a phone call, made just days after the end of an investigation that he solicited political help from another foreign government, isn’t anything to be concerned about.

Some folks might ask at which point — now or then — those South Carolina leaders were being hypocrites. But the people who protested Cunningham’s office this week would tell you “Neither.”

See, if a Democratic president asked China to look into Ivanka Trump securing lucrative trademarks there just after her daddy became president, they’d call that slanderous treason. But Trump asking China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son isn’t political. It's just another example of the president's well-documented and continuing efforts to root out corruption.

You just don’t get it, Joe. This is what these folks want:

“No matter what happens we have to stay together,” Mount Pleasant Town Councilwoman Kathy Landing, who’s running for Cunningham’s job, said at the protest. “We’re all united with Donald Trump.”

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She meant as followers, not co-conspirators.

That means don’t jump to conclusions, like so many Democrats have done. It also means these protesters expect you to perform your job just like fellow Lowcountry resident Bill Murray in that screen classic about summer camp, "Meatballs."

No matter what the other camp does — whether they uncover text messages between diplomats suggesting quid pro quo, or Rudy Giuliani admits to everything … again — you must simply chant “It … just … doesn’t … matter.”

Intentionally or not, that's the exact message McKissick and crew delivered this week. It just doesn’t matter.

Don’t wait on the facts, congressman. Don’t show prudence, don’t deliberate, and for gosh sakes, don’t follow the investigation where it leads. Forget about precedent and the rule of law.

It’s really simple. They don’t want your “Lowcountry over party” philosophy.

They want their party over the country.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.