America needs your help, Republicans. Now. You must stand up. Right now, and I mean now, not 7 days from now, America needs you to stand up for what is right. You love America. You believe in our democracy and the rule of law. You’re a patriot, right? Well, prove it. Democrats can’t be the only ones. It can’t be a partisan vote. You call for unity? Well, so do I. Unity means coming together to take care of a wannabe dictator. A man who wraps himself in the flag while desecrating it — and who sits and watches unperturbed while his supporters use our flag to beat a police officer. Unity means rooting out the white supremacists from your party and then stuffing them back down deep in the holes they slithered out of, and then throwing their hero, Donald Trump in there with them. Unity means plucking off that parasite, Donald Trump, who wants to supplant your party with himself. He called it Trump’s Republican party, but you had values before Trump, and you can reclaim them. Unity doesn’t mean that we all put our heads in the sand and pretend that Donald Trump and his lackeys didn’t try to steal this election. Unity doesn’t mean that we all just close our eyes and pretend this didn’t happen or how it happened. America needs all of you righteous, good hearted Republicans to do the right thing for our country because the insurrection at the Capital was orchestrated by one of your own, President Trump, and it was abetted by your own, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and those 100 or so Republicans in the House of Representatives. We need you to stand up for the American way of life. We need you to stand up for truth and justice and the American way.
It was not a Wal-Mart. It was not a Best Buy. It was not a Target. It was an attack on the Capitol building. This wasn’t property damage. This wasn’t a protest that went too far. Don’t get lost in false equivalences. That building matters. What it represents matters. It is a symbol of our democracy, and it is an instrument of it. What goes on in it matters. The day was January 6th. It wasn’t the 5th or the 7th. Remember, the Capitol building wasn’t empty. The business of Congress was going on. Our Senators and Representatives were there. There were no T.V.s inside to take. There were no iPhones to take. There was no jewelry to take. But there were your duly elected representatives, Democrats and Republicans, to take and zip tie or even string up by the neck, and they were going about the business of confirming one of the most sacred aspects of our democracy, which is the peaceful transition of power from one candidate to the next.
The people who stormed the Capitol believed that in some of the states that voted for Biden, and only states that went for Biden, there was a conspiracy to destroy ballots for Trump, or count ballots for Biden more than once, or that voting machines were tampered with, or even that dead people were voting in droves. If this were true, every person, Democrat and Republican, should stand up and demand a recount. But of course, that wasn’t true. You and I know that. And how do we know it? We know it because in the one place where speech must be backed up with evidence, it was refuted. The courts. Time and again, even by judges appointed by Trump, accusations of voter fraud were thrown out, 61 of 62 in total. In a court of law, you must have evidence, not some sort of hearsay from Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. You need more than an assertion by a political candidate who lost and doesn’t like it.
The assertions by that candidate, President Trump, came even before the election. Months before, in fact. He went on and on that the vote would be rigged, that it would be stolen. He said over and over again that the “only way we are going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” In fact, as of June 6th, “President Trump has used “rigged” 157 times in his tweets since he took office. 75 have been tweeted since May about the 2020 presidential election.” No President or candidate for president had ever done that before. Why did he do it? Did he have evidence? He gave none at the time. And how would he? How would he have evidence of a crime before it even happened? No one, not even Donald Trump, can see into the future.
So the question is simple: why would anyone put into doubt an election in the United States of America, the beacon for democracy around the world, the country that so many other countries point to for our unimpeachable elections? The answer is obvious. The president was afraid to lose that election. He saw the polls (Biden up by 11 points most of the campaign) just like you and I did, and he was afraid to lose a fair and square election. He wanted to win even if that meant lying. Some of you good Republican, might have dismissed it as rhetoric. But those words had consequences. For some, it scrambled their minds, and they believed him. He is the president after all, and what a president says matters. The gravity, the dignity of his office make his words seem legitimate even if he is saying that our elections, the ones that soldiers on the battlefield and civil rights marchers on the street fought and died for, are illegitimate.
But, of course, he didn’t stop talking once the election happened and he saw that he lost. He lied before the election. Then he lied afterward. But he did tell the truth about one thing. He has never agreed to a peaceful transition of power, and he’s done what he said he would. He didn’t concede after the election, just like he said he wouldn’t when asked on the campaign trail. This goes against more than a hundred years of tradition. That’s American tradition. You may have disregarded the President’s rhetoric as just more Trump being Trump. But the time for laughing away Trump’s baby dictator ways is over. The time for turning a blind eye to his destruction of American norms is over.
Then the lie got bigger. He said he won in a landslide. He kept on saying it even after all those court cases piled up against him. And the Republican establishment backed him up because they are afraid to lose their base. Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Steve Scalise slunk behind Trump. Fox News called Arizona early and then went crawling back to Trump. “Tonight every American should be angry, outraged and worried and concerned about what happened in the election and the lead up to the election,” Sean Hannity declared on his program. Tucker Carlson said the “outcome of our presidential election was seized from the hands of voters” and put in the hands of “clearly corrupted city bureaucrats.” Laura Ingraham said, “Is the fix already in?” In fact, 88% of elected Republicans wouldn’t say that Biden won more than a month after he was declared the victor by all major news sources on November 8th, including Fox News. And what did all of that do? It convinced 50% of Republicans that the election was rigged. I’m talking to the other half right now. You can’t let this stand. This isn’t a joke. These aren’t just words.
He had numbers. Numbers of ballots for him tossed out, or shredded, or numbers of ballots for Biden that were counted more than once. But these numbers represented nothing but a way to dress up a lie as the truth. When those numbers were thrown out of court, Trump pressured the state governments, even those run by Republicans, to overturn their free and fair election results. You heard President Trump brow beating the secretary of state in my state of Georgia with those numbers. The president used those numbers to try and convince him to “find” 11,780 votes so Georgia would be overturned in his favor. But the secretary of state, Brad Raffensburger, a good Republican, stood up. He did what was right for Georgia, and what was right for America. He told the President, “the data you have is wrong.” He told the president no.
And there have been other good Republicans in state governments across America who have stood up for American democracy despite the heavy pressure put on them by the President of the United States. There was Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, who “silenced a call from the White House while in the middle of signing papers certifying election results showing Trump narrowly lost the state,” and then responded to a Trump tweet wondering what was going on with him by saying, “The clock is ticking. If you have a complaint or an irregularity or any proof, this is the time to bring it forth.” Or there were the Michigan Republican lawmakers, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield who were invited to the White House by President Trump days before before they were to certify the election results, and said after the meeting that “Michigan’s certification process should be a deliberate process free from threats and intimidation. Allegations of fraudulent behavior should be taken seriously, thoroughly investigated, and if proven, prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the candidates who win the most votes win elections and Michigan’s electoral votes. These are simple truths that should provide confidence in our elections.” Or the Republican Secretary of State of Nevada, who’s office responded two days after President Trump tweeted that “Nevada must be flipped” that “Hearsay, unfounded accusations and anonymous declarations are not evidence and will not be investigated,” and then supplied this fact sheet refuting the many unfounded accusations made by the President.
Doing as these good Republicans did must have been no easy feat. The pressure of any president is intense, and this president, with his Twitter megaphone, can put on pressure like few before him. As I said before, many Republicans duly elected to office stayed silent. They were afraid of the hold President Trump had on your party. They knew the truth, and yet they lacked the courage to say the truth. They didn’t want the President to call for their resignation, like he did with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. They didn’t want to primaried. They didn’t want to be called RINOs, or worse, Democrats.
Now I am not saying that Democrats haven’t said a few choice words about Republicans. We are not innocent when it comes to mudslinging. But the problem right now is not with the Democratic party. The problem comes from the Republican party. The problem is the rhetoric and actions of President Donald Trump and those elected Republicans who chose to abet him in his bid to overturn a free and fair election.
Their rhetoric continued after the plot to kidnap the Michigan Governor was thwarted. Their rhetoric continued after “caravans of horn-honking Trump supporters constantly parade past [Georgia] Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s private residence, and his wife has reportedly received sexually explicit threats.” It continued after a “A 20-something tech in Gwinnett County [Georgia] today has death threats and a noose put out saying he should be hung for treason.” It continued after “Dozens of armed people gathered outside Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s home over the weekend “shouting obscenities” and threatening violence in an effort to overturn the presidential election results in the state.” It continued after “two Virginia men were arrested on firearms charges [in Philadelphia] on November 5 after the FBI received a tip they were traveling to polling locations with AR-15 rifles to “straighten things out.” It continued after “chaos erupted outside the TCF Center, [Detroit’s] vote-counting headquarters, the morning after Election Day. Republican poll challengers circled around election workers, chanting, ‘Stop the count.’” It continued after all the many death threats to election officials all over the country.
We now know, of course, that all of these violent, criminal examples of sedition that were occurring all over the country were only the foreshocks of what happened on January 6th. And we know that after all the evil, after all of the violence, after all of those death threats, Donald Trump never tried to rein any of them in, and he continued with his lies about the election. He spurred them on.
Then he brought them to Washington, D.C. on January 6th. That day was chosen by President Trump because his political rival would be confirmed, as our constitution outlines it, by the Congress of our United States of America. His first tweet about it came just 5 days after 4 people were stabbed and 33 arrested at the Million MAGA march to “stop the steal” on December 14 : “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” President Trump tweeted on Dec. 19. Then he continued to tweet about it on Dec. 27: “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it. Information to follow.” And on Dec. 30: “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!” And on Jan. 1: “The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C. will take place at 11:00 A.M. on January 6th. Locational details to follow. StopTheSteal!”
And they came. They wore Trump gear. They waved his flag. They wore MAGA hats. Some had on camouflage. Some had riot gear. Some had shirts that said Civil War, January 6th. Some had Q gear, some “trust the plan” gear. Some of them were neo-nazis. Some of them were part of radical extremist groups — Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers, and III Percenters, and Boogaloo Bois. One man wore a camp Auschwitz sweatshirt with the word “staff” on the back of it. Not all of the people there were racists. But as they say, you sleep with dogs and you wake up with fleas. You Republicans have some mighty big fleas. And those fleas think they own you.
At the rally, Don Jr shouted out to them, “This gathering should send a message to them: This isn’t their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” Representative Mo Brooks from Alabama said, “America does not need and cannot stand — cannot tolerate — any more weakling, cowering, wimpy Republican congressmen and senators who covet power and the prestige the swamp has to offer while groveling at the feet of the special interest masters.” It was called the “Save America” rally, but it wasn’t only Democrats that they think it needs saving from. It’s you, good Republicans, of the other 50%, that don’t believe in all the lies that have spewed from Donald Trump’s mouth. It’s you, good Republicans, who believe in the American way of doing things. It’s you, who believe in our norms. You, who believe in actual justice. It’s you, who actually believe in the Constitution. It’s you, good Republicans, true patriots, who believe that a peaceful transition of power to a duly elected man or woman from the opposite party is an American value. You were the target. You were the ones who needed to be taken care of, as Rudy Guliani said, with, “trial by combat” because without your opposition, America would be lost. Trump and his cronies know you good Republicans are the last bulwark between them and total power.
After Mike Pence sent his letter saying he would not do Donald Trump’s bidding, after Mitch McConnell stated to the press that he would do as the Constitution outlines in the 12th Amendment, and after all the other speakers were done that day, Donald Trump took to the stage, and looked out on that crowd that he had gathered there, and he told them the election had been stolen again. He recounted all of the conspiracy theories again. And he told that angry crowd with conspiracy-addled brains that they were the ones who were protecting America from facism. They were the ones who were the American heroes. He told them that they were the ones who would “defend and preserve government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” after he had smeared the good names of many good Republicans who had done their jobs overseeing the fair and free elections across America.
And at the end of his speech to these people hopped up on anger and resentment that President Donald Trump had fed them, the president said,
Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun. My fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children, and for our beloved country, and I say this despite all that has happened, the best is yet to come.
So we are going to — we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we are going to the Capitol, and we are going to try and give — the Democrats are hopeless, they are never voting for anything, not even one vote but we are going to try — give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re try — going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
And as they went down Pennsylvania Avenue. Mitch McConnell, a man I often disagree with, but must respect for his actions on January 6th, addressed Vice President Mike Pence, the President of the Senate, and said, “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.” He was responding to all those false allegations by President Trump, but also the allegations by Senators Hawley and Cruz.
Just days before the siege, Cruz said that he and 10 other Senators had to object to the confirmation of the vote because “We’ve seen in the last two months unprecedented allegations of voter fraud. And that’s produced a deep, deep distrust of our democratic process across the country. I think we in Congress have an obligation to do something about that.” Of course that was a cynical attempt at appealing to Trump’s base. Cruz knew very well who had fabricated those allegations, who had propagated them, and who had enabled them to develop that deep distrust in people’s minds. It was President Trump and those Republicans who backed him or who wouldn’t stand up and say they were false. It was Ted Cruz. It was Josh Hawley. They fueled the violent siege on the Capitol Building by saying that they would object to the confirmation of the electoral college vote. They gave credence to the false claims of Donald Trump. They gave the insurrectionists the hope that if they just stormed those doors they would “Hang Mike Pence” and kill Nancy Pelosi and take their country back.
You, good Republicans, know what happened next; the Capitol building was stormed, 5 dead, Senators and U.S. Representatives whisked away just in time to a secure location. There were images that are unimaginable. You, good Republicans, like us Democrats, were so saddened by what we saw on our T.V.s, computers, and phones. You saw them breaking in windows. You saw the police officer crushed, the guns drawn, the white men chasing after a lone black police officer. Those monsters beating an officer to death. You were shocked, like the rest of us were shocked. How could this happen in America?
But that was 7 days ago. Good Republicans, don’t lose that shock. Don’t become distracted by the Twitter ban. Don’t become distracted by baseless conspiracy theories that Antifa was to blame. Don’t slip back down into easy partisan divides. Don’t fall for the lie that for America to heal, we need to forget what Donald Trump and his cronies did. Remember that Donald Trump said nothing for almost three hours after the Capitol was breached, and then when he did, he again said the election was stolen, and ended by telling the insurrectionists that “We love you, you’re very special.” Remember that at 6 pm, after the terrible events of January 6th were over and President Trump knew exactly what had transpired he tweeted, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Remember, good Republicans, because you must be the ones who stand up. You must be the ones who root out the cancer that has taken hold in your party. Do not be distracted by calls for reconciliation, for unity, that tells us, good Democrats and good Republicans, that we should forget all this, that says there are only 7 more days and then there will be a new administration. Good Republicans, you cannot just move on. If you do that, there will never be reconciliation, only capitulation to cynicism. This stain will never be cleaned. Our country will not be able to move on. America will be irrevocably changed. We will be sick.
We can’t do it alone. Democrats, as President Trump paints us, are almost less than human, but definitely not true Americans. He has called us “treasonous” and “un-American” people who “don’t seem to love our country very much.” He said Democrats “want to destroy our country. These people are sick. They are sick…they don’t love our country, in any way shape or form, they don’t love our country.” And he says that we hate Republicans: “They hate me. They hate you. They hate rallies and it’s all because they hate the idea of MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” President Trump has said words like this over and over again. But you, good Republican, know this is not true. We Democrats are in your families. We are your coworkers. We are your neighbors. We may have different political agendas than you, but we love our country just as much as you do. We love it for all the good it has done. We love it despite the bad, despite the mistakes. We love it because Americans that came before us overcame those mistakes of the past. We like you, always see the potential for the future. This mistake, this terrible, unbelievable, disgusting mistake of January the 6th can be overcome with your help, and we can live up to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. We can live up to the examples of men and women who have fought for the preservation of our democracy and for the betterment of our democracy.
If we do what needs to be done alone, if it is only us Democrats, then President Trump, some elected Republicans who support him, and some conservative media will obscure this moment into a partisan one. But this moment is clear. It isn’t a moment for partisanship. This was an attack on America, and all good Americans need to unite and beat back that attack because if we don’t hold Donald Trump and his lackeys responsible for this, we will be giving our tacit approval of their actions, and we will be inviting sedition like this again. We will be inviting another demagogue to rouse and incite an angry, violent, undemocratic mob. And know this, mobs like that can materialize on either side of the political spectrum.
Donald Trump and the enablers in Congress groomed that mob on the Capitol with years of conspiracy theory and months of screaming that the election was rigged. And then in one speech in the shadow of the White House, Donald Trump used slogans of patriotism to engender an act of sedition. He sicced them on Congress to save America, when in fact, he wanted them to destroy it for his own selfish desire to hold onto power. Good Republicans, remember that.
Remember, the United States Capitol building was the target. The United States Congress was the target. The confirmation of the electoral college vote was the target. The peaceful transition of power was the target. Representative democracy was the target. The Constitution was the target. What America was, and still is, was the target. Remember and stand up, good Republicans. Stand up! Call your senators and your representative. Stand up! Say something. Stand up! Do something. Stand up! Stand up! Stand up!