In a dark day in American history, Wednesday’s surge of rioters into the U.S. Capitol did even more harm than disrupting Congress, damaging property and the shooting death of at least one person. This confounding insurrection struck directly at the heart of American governance and Constitutional order.
The fault clearly is owned by President Donald Trump, and every federal official who fueled his falsehoods about the November election. Election officials and courts have roundly and repeatedly debunked the lies of election theft.
Too many members of Congress lent credibility to these lies by objecting to the vote. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri are ringleaders who should never live this down. Washington’s U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers carries a burden too, though she rightly abandoned this position after Wednesday’s riot.
For weeks, Trump fanned conspiracy theories and encouraged supporters to travel to the Capitol. On Wednesday, he did not call for rioters to stop until members of Congress were evacuated and president-elect Joe Biden publicly called him out. Even then, he spiked his address by repeating lies about his “fraudulent election.”
Sober leadership is needed now. Trump’s ardent Republican allies, so quiet or obsequious for so long, must stand up to him now.
Trump violates his oath to defend the Constitution every time he undermines the electoral process with a self-aggrandizing lie. The chaos these claims incite is a wound upon American democracy.
Until Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20, Trump holds extensive official power. For the good of the nation, Vice President Mike Pence and cabinet officials should consider invoking the 25th amendment to take power out of Trump’s hands. He cannot be trusted.
As his supporters overran barricades and disrupted Congress, Trump failed this latest crucial test of leadership. But it is only the latest in a long line. During his single term, Republicans lost control of the House in 2018, the White House in November and the Senate in Georgia’s runoff election this week.
Civility and order must come from the top. As Pence wrote Wednesday before the disorder surged into the seat of government, “We count the votes of the Electoral College for President and Vice President in a manner consistent with our Constitution, laws, and history.”
To their credit, lawmakers who earlier were assailed in their workplace reconvened in the evening to carry out their constitutional duty to formalize voters’ choice for the next president. That is leadership that rebukes the chicanery of the current one.