To the editor,
On Jan. 6, a violent mob stormed the United States Capitol, trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election so that Donald Trump could stay in office. This insurrection would not have happened had Trump not sparked the fire and then fanned the flames, over a period of at least two months. When a presidential candidate refuses to commit to a peaceful transition of power, says the election is rigged against him, and never concedes, it’s bad enough. But what Trump did went way beyond bad sportsmanship.
Our Congressman, John Katko, said it better than I can: “It cannot be ignored that President Trump encouraged this insurrection, both on social media ahead of Jan. 6, and in his speech that day. By deliberately promoting baseless theories suggesting the election was somehow stolen, the president created a combustible environment of misinformation, disenfranchisement, and division. When this manifested in violent acts on Jan. 6, he refused to promptly and forcefully call it off, putting countless lives in danger.”
Katko was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection. He explained his vote as follows: “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy.”
The Senate has not yet voted on the impeachment articles, but the previous Republican presidential nominee and current Senator Mitt Romney wasted no time in saying that Trump incited the insurrection, and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed that Trump “provoked” the mob. This is encouraging. While the Republican Party may no longer be the progressive party of Lincoln, our system works best when we have two parties that are honest, accountable, and open to reason. As President Biden said, “We need a Republican Party. We need an opposition that is principled and strong.”
But do we have a principled Republican Party? Nearly two-thirds of House Republicans voted the night after Jan. 6 to reject Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, citing the same bogus “Stop the Steal” claims that motivated the mob. Never mind that Pennsylvania had already certified its votes and multiple courts had upheld their validity. And Katko’s vote for impeachment, while commendable, was a lonely one: 197 House Republicans voted against impeachment. Closer to home, Oswego County Republican Committee Chairman Fred Beardsley said, “We’re very upset” and that Katko “double-crossed us.”
One wonders, if the mob had succeeded in violently overthrowing the election result so that Trump was still president, how many Republicans would have a problem with that?