By: Stephen Lynch, Columnist
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
The raid on the Capitol by Trump supporters was precipitated by President Trump’s insistence on the act of fraudulent voting in the 2020 election, at a rally on Jan. 6. During this rally, the President riled up his supporters in a chaotic frenzy telling them to march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol building and persuade electoral voters to vote against the confirmation of President-elect Biden and to rescind what he believes to be the will of the American people, all under the guise of the unproven assertion that the 2020 election was rigged.
I have heard this rhetoric espoused from the mouth of President Trump, but it has also been echoed by a number of his Republican peers. For instance, the 147 Republican senators and representatives who called into question the legitimacy of the November election and sought to overrule the justly cast votes, with any evidence towards their case absent. I see this as an ideological coup on the democratic foundation of American democracy.
These Republican representatives have used their influence as a means to call into question the legitimacy of the sanctified act of voting, and thereby prompted their supporters to lash out abhorrently resulting in the death of five people; one of which was a Capitol police officer who was attacked and eventually died after being assaulted with a fire extinguisher.
Instead of extinguishing the insurrectionist flames they have created, after weeks of calling for recounts and issuing lawsuits, I believe Republicans doubled down behind Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is one of the driving forces behind this doubling down and he, among others, is responsible for the violent raids on the Capitol. A former candidate in the 2016 Republican primaries, Cruz became a household name and is frequently featured on conservative media outlets such as Fox News.
Back in December, Cruz was a vocal proponent of President Trump’s claims of voter fraud, following Trump’s request for the state of Texas to sue Pennsylvania following their election result. Similarly, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) also backed these claims of fraud and was photographed raising his fist in solidarity as Trump supporters gathered outside of the Capitol.
There’s also the recently elected Republican West Virginia Delegate, Derrick Evans. Evans recorded himself raiding the Capitol and has since been arrested for his crime. He has since resigned from his position.
All of these lawmakers, and many more, are culpable of the actions conducted by the President’s followers. The bitter language, emphasis on baseless conspiracy theories and attempts to assuage the loss of Trump supporters by blaming the electoral framework, which has held American democracy together for centuries, left this divided nation at an ever-growing crossroads.
Fortunately, there is something Republican lawmakers and Trump cabinet members can do to right the ship caused by this historic event. Vice President Mike Pence can act via Section Four of the 25th Amendment. He can usurp the presidency and cleanse this nation of the dividing agent that is President Trump. I am certain this has crossed the Vice President’s mind.
The Republican Party is facing an onslaught of backlash due to both the raid of the Capitol itself. I think if Republicans wish to establish goodwill with more moderate voters, they know they have to act. They must make a statement that shows they will move beyond this divisive President.
The raid on the Capitol is the manifestation of years of incendiary rhetoric in the language of the President. He has done nothing to build bridges. He has done nothing but foment discord in the “E Pluribus Unum,” which is the motto of the United States that translates to out of one, many, and cement the new paradigm of “E Pluribus Duo,” out of many, two.
The most impactful act would be to evict President Trump from the White House before Inauguration Day. The President’s empty tweets condemning these actions are not enough. Republican lawmakers need to look at their peers who are responsible for the clash at the Capitol and decry these representatives themselves, instead of simply blaming the violent arms of their colleague’s rhetoric.