Before all hell broke out at the U.S. Capitol, I wondered if we the people could still summon outrage about anything. Surely, we had exhausted what was left of our fury quota last year.
The human psyche can only sustain so much abuse, right? Safe to say we’re there. After being mercilessly pummeled with an unchecked deadly pandemic, on top of oppressive politics and social unrest, we’re toast. Sick and tired of chaos and conflict. Make it go away.
The new year opened with a dreaded emergency alarm. Stop everything. Urgent. Situation dire. Lives and liberty on the line. Hurry. Would we rush to the rescue with razor-focused resolve, or let the moment slide and not get involved because we’re burnt out on trauma?
Could we still muster the passion to fight for something we believe in and love deeply that is flailing horribly under acute duress, or give the unthinkable a pass to do its worst?
We’ll find out soon enough, won’t we? Because the unthinkable arrived on Jan. 6, 2021. We watched it crash through the cradle of our American democracy in real time. Violent armed insurrection of the Capitol spurred on by a sitting president. Donald Trump incited overthrow of a democratically decided election. A weaponized mob in MAGA hats obliged. They targeted lawmakers and staff — gathered to affirm the duly certified outcome of that election — who feared for their lives as they dove for cover under their desks. It happened. In America. And the world wept.
Rampaging fascists, who pledge blind allegiance to the Trumpian Mussolini, trashed our revered citadel of representative democracy and terrorized their fellow Americans. The question today is: How will we respond to the indelible repulsion of lawless thugs, draped in American flags and waving Confederate banners, who defiled and desecrated what defines us? More importantly, how will we answer to those in power who were fully complicit in causing this egregious assault on the United States?
The commander-in-chief of sedition had plenty of Republican accomplices and enablers. They all made a calculated decision to choose self-preservation over the will of the American people who unequivocally elected a new president in 2020.
Those who aided and abetted the rank deception Trump promoted for weeks about a fraudulent election know there is no verifiable evidence of any widespread voter fraud or voting irregularities that would have changed the outcome. They know that every state in the union, including Ohio, conducted largely problem-free, highly accurate elections despite the challenges of a pandemic and a deluge of mail-in ballots. They know the election was deemed the most secure in U.S. history, according to the top cyber-security expert in the Trump administration. They know that even Trump’s lickspittle U.S. attorney general uncovered no proof of substantive fraud.
And yet five Ohio congressmen, Jim Jordan, Bob Gibbs, Warren Davidson, Steve Chabot and Bill Johnson — who all know better — did not hesitate to overturn the legitimate votes of Americans under the guise of objecting to Trump’s “stolen election.” That was the same fabricated myth promulgated repeatedly by the president and his surrogates ever since the election was called for Joe Biden. It was the same fiction preached by Trump as he was inciting insurrection on the republic with a raised fist.
Even after terrorizing mobs descended en masse on the Capitol, these Ohio Republicans voted to undermine what truly makes America great — the peaceful transition of power that stands as a centuries-old testament to our envied democratic principles. They chose to champion a lie promoted by the certified loser of the 2020 election. They chose to stand with those on the far-right who were swept up in the Trump treachery to sow unfounded doubt with orchestrated deceit. They chose to bolster the baseless grievances of Trumpian terrorists who sought vengeance and brought violence.
Jordan and his band co-conspirators are traitors. They betrayed the principles and institutions they swore an oath to protect and uphold. But they are not the only Ohio leaders who advanced the insidious subterfuge Trump planted to steal the election with tall tales of shadowy ballot dumps, compromised voting machines, Communist infiltration and thousands of dead people voting.
Gov. Mike DeWine knows better. So does Sen. Rob Portman. Both could have set the record straight and exposed the falsehood about Trump being cheated out of victory. Instead, they chose to feed beast that pounced on democracy. They mumbled about a commission to look at election integrity/security issues as a way of restoring confidence among Trump voters as they’re being fed an ongoing diet of unchallenged lies.
DeWine and Portman lacked the courage to tell the truth in the public interest. Jordan, Gibbs, Davidson, Chabot and Johnson were on board with a coup against America. Never forget what they did.
Yes, I believe we can summon and absolutely sustain outrage for these turncoats and others who irrevocably broke faith with the core tenets of our fragile democracy for nothing more than political theater or political cover. There will be a reckoning.
Marilou Johanek is a veteran Ohio print and broadcast journalist who has covered state and national politics as a longtime newspaper editorial writer and columnist.
This commentary was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.
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