Now that President Biden and Vice President Harris have been sworn in, it’s time for damage assessments and planning the recovery. We need to clean up the mess Trumpism made.
In his inaugural address, President Biden called for us to “reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured,” to return to the common values that define us as Americans, “Opportunity. Security. Liberty. Dignity. Respect. Honor. And yes, the truth.” His call for unity wasn’t an empty platitude, he acknowledged that “There is truth and there are lies, lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans… to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”
This is why we launched the Republican Accountability Project. We’re pledging to spend $50 million between now and the 2022 midterm elections to hold accountable the congressional Republicans who lied to the American people and voted to vitiate democracy by disrupting the electoral college vote count. And we’re going to protect those who spoke the truth and defended democracy.
Power ultimately resides with the people
Power in our republic ultimately resides with the people, and if the people disapprove of what the government is doing, they have the right and duty to replace those in government — not with riots or assassination plots or violence, but by voting. This elegant system has sustained republics large and small since the time of Socrates, but it has a flaw: What is a republic supposed to do if the leaders abolish free and fair elections?
This is, in essence, what many (but not all!) Republicans in Congress recently voted to do. In total, 139 Republicans in the House of Representatives and 8 Republicans in the Senate voted to throw out Electoral College votes from several states, even though the officials in those states had confirmed the free and fair results of their elections well ahead of the deadline. These supposed representatives of the people voted to nullify millions of their fellow Americans’ votes. (So much for populism.)
At the same time, Trump was inciting a violent mob of domestic terrorists to attack the U.S. Capitol with the purpose of stopping the counting of the electoral votes. Some even planned to try to force the Vice President to overturn the election (a power he obviously doesn’t have) with the threat of hanging. The mob partially succeeded — the House and Senate were ransacked, multiple people were killed, and the process of counting the electoral votes was delayed.
When the House impeached trump for trying to use a violent mob to disrupt and overturn the process of a free and fair election — for attempting to short-circuit the system of accountability elections provide — all but 10 House Republicans voted against it. Whatever their petty complaints of imagined procedural irregularities or poor draftsmanship, the message of their votes couldn’t be clearer: “The people’s votes don’t matter. If we don’t like the outcome, we’ll just choose a different one.”
Lincoln must be rolling in his grave.
Republicans leaders are suddenly preaching the importance of unity and healing. The first step toward recovery is repentance and accepting responsibility for their role. There can be no unity without truth and accountability.
The 10 House Republicans who supported impeachment know that their principled, patriotic votes might cost them reelection. Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina remarked, “If it does, it does.” The Republican Accountability Project will help them ward off primary challengers and secure their reelection. They shouldn’t be punished for upholding their oaths to the Constitution.
Republicans have to decide what side they are on
Those who encouraged and continue to encourage the insurrection against the government must be held accountable for their votes, and we will ensure that they will be in 2022.
Some Senate Republicans have already joined one or the other of these camps, and everyone knows where they stand. Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley clearly value their own power and advancement more than truth and the institutions of the republic.
But most Senate Republicans have yet to choose a side. They still have the opportunity to convict Trump and thereby disqualify him from ever holding office again. This is the only path to begin the process of repairing what they have helped to break. They should know that if they do the right thing, the Republican Accountability Project will help them. And if they don’t, we will find someone who will.
Elizabeth Neumann, former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Counterterrorism and Threat Reduction, and Olivia Troye, former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to Vice President Pence, are directors of the Republican Accountability Project.