Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol was the darkest day in our nation’s contemporary history.
Driven by the false, inflammatory rhetoric of the president of the United States that was adopted by some elected Republican officials, a mob attacked the seat of government trying to block a free, fair democratic election.
In the end, order was restored, and the final step in the election process was allowed to come to its rightful end: Joe Biden was declared the winner of the Nov. 3 election. He will be sworn into office Jan. 20.
That resolves the election but doesn’t remove the cancer on our nation’s soul.
It is a cancer of dishonesty.
Even after the riot, all five members of Oklahoma’s U.S. House delegation — U.S. Reps. Kevin Hern, Markwayne Mullin, Frank Lucas, Tom Cole and Stephanie Bice — persisted in objecting to the election results, an outrageous refusal to accept the democratic process based on a false narrative.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford initially said he would object to the results and was explaining his reasons on the Senate floor when the terrorists forced the process to end. After the smoke had cleared, he announced that it was time “to come together and vote to certify the election results.” He was right, but his previous comments threw the weight of his reputation in the fire that ultimately threatened to consume American democracy.
Hern called the rioting criminal and dangerous, but he persisted in efforts to delay the Electoral College process under the false premise that there were legitimate voting irregularities to be investigated.
“The sanctity of our elections is critical to the function of our government,” Hern said. We agree. We wish his actions matched that language.
Cole said he objected to the Electoral College process on behalf of his constituents.
“The voters I represent are not concerned about the fairness of elections in Oklahoma. However, they are concerned about fairness and transparency in other states,” he said.
Rep. Cole, your duty as a congressman is to represent and lead. When some of your constituents tell you to defy your constitutional duties, you have to tell them no.
Like the others, Bice did not condone the rioting and said she wasn’t trying to overturn the election.
“Let me be clear — my vote represented my desire to ensure the security of elections across the country, not to overturn an election,” Bice said.
The election was secure, Rep. Bice, as has been repeatedly proven in courts, media and by the president’s own national security and justice appointees. Your job, the job of all members of Congress, was to receive the Electoral College votes and certify the new president.
In an interview with the Tulsa World’s Randy Krehbiel, Mullin minimized the president’s culpability for what happened: “Some people are saying the president is responsible. Absolutely not. At the same time we’re all responsible for our actions.”
We’re all responsible, and some more than others, congressman.
The state’s one principled, constitutional representative in the chaos was U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who said earlier this week that the Constitution required him to validate an Electoral College result that he doesn’t like. We are proud of what he did.
Honesty is an essential first quality of leadership, and, except for Inhofe, we saw precious little of it from Oklahoma’s elected leaders in this awful moment and well before it.
Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 victory did not mandate that Republicans embrace his platform. American democracy thrives in an honorable but adversarial environment.
But those propelled to national leadership by the democratic process must accept its results and speak the full truth to the public. This is fundamental.