Opinion The sedition didn’t stop on Jan. 6. It must be stopped.


HR King
May 29, 2001
By Karen Tumulty
Deputy editorial page editor and columnist |
June 12, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. EDT
As important as it is for the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol to make the nation understand what really happened on that horrific day, the panel has a more crucial mission: making sure that such an effort to overturn the result of a legitimate election does not happen again.
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The potential is there, because the sedition continues. That should not be lost as the bipartisan House panel lays its case before the American people. Jan. 6 was not just a day; it was the opening salvo of a movement to undermine democracy.
Congress has yet to act on changing the vague language in the archaic Electoral Count Act, which sets the rules for how Congress tallies the electoral votes in presidential elections. The rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” on Jan. 6 believed that the then-vice president had the power to throw out electoral votes at will and were infuriated that Pence was too principled to do so.
Their rage channeled that of then-President Donald Trump. One of the more jolting claims Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) made during the Jan. 6 committee’s opening hearing on Thursday night was that when Trump learned how the insurrectionists were threatening his vice president, he expressed sympathy … for the murderous mob. “The president responded with this sentiment: ‘Maybe our supporters have the right idea,’ ” Cheney said. “Mike Pence ‘deserves’ it.”

Trump has denied saying that, but has suffused his party, top to bottom, with fealty to the lies and conspiracy theories that ignited his supporters who breached the Capitol that day. All around the country, Republicans have not only embraced Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, but are also running on promises to further undermine the electoral process.
Many of them are vying for offices that would put them in position to oversee the election machinery in their states. According to a running tally being kept by States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan watchdog organization, at least 35 candidates who have denied the validity of the 2020 election results are running for governor in 20 states; at least 15 for attorney general in 13 states; and nearly two dozen for secretary of state — the chief election officer — in 17 states.
They include state Sen. Doug Mastriano, whom Pennsylvania Republicans nominated as their candidate for governor in that key swing state. Mastriano was at the Capitol on Jan. 6. (Video suggests he crossed law enforcement barricades, though Mastriano insists he followed police instructions.) If elected, he has promised to require all voters to re-register, which would no doubt disenfranchise many. He would also appoint Pennsylvania’s secretary of state, the official who certifies vote tallies.
Also at the Capitol that day was Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan D. Kelley, who was arrested Thursday on federal charges that included four counts punishable by up to a year in prison for each charge. Among them: trespassing, disorderly conduct, committing an act of violence against a person or property on restricted grounds, and depredation of federal property. Kelley has yet to comment on the charges, but he has called the riot an “energizing event.”
Colorado Republicans have put Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters on the ballot as a candidate for secretary of state — despite the fact that she was indicted in March on criminal charges related to baseless conspiracy theories of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. She is accused of smuggling someone who was not an employee of the county into its offices to illicitly copy election machine hard drives, charges she claims are politically motivated. And in Michigan, the GOP endorsed as its candidate for secretary of state Kristina Karamo, a part-time community college professor and proponent of Trump’s election lies who made debunked claims of having witnessed election fraud as a “poll challenger” in 2020.
It is easy to imagine the stunts that people like this will pull if they are in positions of power come 2024. That is why it is imperative for voters to defeat them all — resoundingly, and across the board. They should take their lead from Georgia Republican voters, who in their May 24 primary defied Trump’s efforts to exact revenge on Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for upholding democracy in 2020 and rejected Trump’s anointed, 2020-election-denying challengers.
I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible,” Cheney said at the hearing. “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”
The same could be said for the American electorate. In primaries across the nation, and then again in November, they will have a choice. Will they stand for their nation’s democratic system, or will they cast their lot with those who wish to destroy it? The insurrectionists came perilously close to doing so on Jan. 6, 2021. The next time, they might succeed.