Columns, Opinion

2021 Breakdown: Actions must have consequences, especially for those at the top

On Jan. 6, at President Donald Trump’s urging, a blood-thirsty mob of his supporters — proudly brandishing their deadly weapons and “Make America Great Again” gear — stormed the Capitol in a historic act of domestic terrorism.

Gabriella Aponte

Members of Congress, who were in the midst of ratifying President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, took shelter as rioters rampaged the building and caused the deaths of five people, including one Capitol police officer.

Ask any Republican official, and they will tell you law and order, patriotism and respect for the U.S. Constitution are the bedrock of the Republican Party.

But after the leader of the “law and order” party incited an insurrection — a storming of the Capitol that hasn’t been seen since the War of 1812 — there is absolutely no question about the matter. The Republican Party and its so-called ideals are nothing but a complete sham.

Respect, especially for the very values they claim to uphold, was flagrantly tossed aside while “very special” people — as Trump called his rioting supporters in a since taken-down video on Twitter — traumatized the nation.

Alexia Nizhny/DFP STAFF

If Republicans truly believed in the law and order story they sell to their constituents, none of the party’s lawmakers would have tolerated — much less supported — the president’s “stop the steal” madness that later escalated into full-blown riots, destruction and death.

Let’s be very clear: insurrections, violent riots and acts of domestic terrorism do not happen in a vacuum, nor at the behest of a single individual.

The flames of this fire were stoked by years of authoritarian messaging and propaganda from right-wing elites.

Trump may have lit the match Jan. 6, but he was backed by 147 Republican lawmakers who objected to the electoral results for no other reason than to fuel doubt in our elections and rile up Trump’s followers.

Actions must have consequences, especially for those at the top who bear the responsibility for inciting this insurrection.

In this, the House of Representatives agrees. On Wednesday, the House justly impeached Trump for his role in the breaching of the Capitol.

At this time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., has indicated that a Senate trial will not be held until after Biden’s inauguration.     

Justice should not stop with Trump’s impeachment, however. The Republican lawmakers who made unsubstantiated claims of election fraud — particularly Sens. Josh Hawley, R-M.O., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who led the charge — must be booted from their seats.

Cruz, Hawley and the rest of these legislators were elected to improve and protect the lives of their constituents, not to galvanize the darkest and most abhorrent elements of our society.

Seven Democratic senators and a number of representatives, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Cori Bush, D-M.O., have already called for Cruz and Hawley’s resignations or expulsions from the chamber.

Bush also introduced a resolution in the House to have all the members who stoked this fire by voting against the presidential election results undergo a disciplinary review. The review will determine whether those Republicans should be censured or removed from the House entirely.

While no guarantee is possible, if we want to ensure that an insurrection such as this never happens again, those who incited it must face the harshest of consequences.

To restore whatever shred of faith in our democracy we have left, it must be unmistakably and unequivocally clear that this will not stand.

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