The GOP Now Bears a Heavy Burden. They Can’t Afford to Shirk Their Debt.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021, will be remembered as a sad shameful day in the history of the United States. The appalling, manic, and deeply un-American acts of terrorism committed around and within the Capitol building should, I certainly hope, represent rock-bottom for the Trump Era; an era already rife with moral lows. Perhaps what will remain the saddest legacy of the Trump Administration will be the denial and delusion that will linger after he leaves office.

To be clear: calling what happened Wednesday an act of domestic terrorism should not be a bombastic statement. In the halls of Congress, while the elected representatives of the nation are carrying out the will of the people, a mob that pledged allegiance to one man obstructed and delayed Congress’ carrying out the law. This was nothing close to a protest; this was an attempted coup. These insurrectionist made sure that there would be no peaceful transfer of power; anyone who believes otherwise, we must admit, is part of the problem.

There is no similarity between the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests of the summer, and the terrorism of Wednesday. Derek Chauvin actually knelt on the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes and 47 seconds while he begged for air until he died. Breonna Taylor was actually shot five times in her sleep by law-enforcement. The election was not stolen from Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not secretly fighting an underworld cabal of Satanists and pedophiles, as has been suggested by conspiracy theorist groups such as QAnon. The BLM protesters demonstrated because they have legitimate claims and are fighting a righteous cause. Wednesday’s terrorists stormed the Capitol because they believe anything that comes from the mouth of Donald Trump and his MAGA cult of personality.

Wednesday’s terrorism was an example of mass delusion. The thousands of rioters delayed the peaceful transfer of power to President-Elect Joe Biden because they have been convinced without evidence that there was mass fraud and corruption in our election. One man bears responsibility for causing this mass delusion and invigorating these thugs by spewing baseless lies and conspiracy theories from the highest pulpit in the land: President Donald Trump. Trump, in his inability to accept his election loss, incited his supporters to disrupt the sacred process by which his power is transferred to his successor. Trump’s MAGA world is endemic in our society; his fervent supporters can be found in every state and county in the country. Yesterday was evidence that those who continue to support him and his conspiracy theories rest on a dangerous fringe of American politics.

I don’t begrudge those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Had I been of age, I might have voted for him too in my ignorance. I might be able to reconcile my frustration with those who voted for him in 2020, and then abandon ship when Trump began to shatter the walls of our beautiful democracy. I cannot, nor can the institutions of our nation tolerate and incorporate these fringe, dangerous, and undemocratic thoughts into civic life. Nor can we tolerate those who espouse them.

Where do we go from here? How do we move on from this terror and shameful chaos? The responsibility lies with those who supported the President through the past four years and somehow didn’t expect this. The GOP we knew before Trump is dead, and whatever rises out of Wednesday’s misery will and must come from those Republicans who can admit: this was a mistake, enough is enough. The GOP will bear the burden of the last four years, and the biggest burden will be the shame of January 6, 2021.

History will remember what we thought and did yesterday, and we cannot waste any more time pretending as though both sides have merit. The remnants of the Republican Party, most specifically the youngest members of the party, must be called upon to redeem their lost decency, to wipe away the tolerance of Trumpist authoritarianism, and to rebuild a spirit of love for our country, not for one man. These are the burdens the GOP bears and must come to terms with as we rebuild our democracy. There is a price to be paid for supporting a President who encourages acts of terror on our democracy, and I call on the Saint Anselm College Republicans, and all members of the GOP to start to pay that debt by condemning yesterday’s acts, and President Donald J. Trump.

Trump Supporters Lay Siege to Capitol Building In An Effort To Disrupt Electoral Vote Count.

Federal law states that every four years, after the general election, Congress shall meet in a joint session in order to certify the vote count of the Electoral College and officially name the incoming president. In typical years, this comes after the outgoing president has conceded the race, and is used as a photo-op for the president-elect and vice president-elect, as well as their supporters in Congress. This year, on the other hand, it comes after weeks of unproven voter fraud allegations from supporters of President Trump, claiming that the election was “stolen”.

After all voter fraud allegations were thrown out in court due to lack of evidence, over 100 Republican lawmakers announced that they would object to the Electoral College vote count during the joint session of Congress. It was clear that this would not be enough to overturn the election results, so President Trump asked Vice President Pence to overturn the election results himself, something which the Vice President has no authority to do. Pence published a statement this morning explaining that though he agrees with the President’s concerns about the election results, he cannot constitutionally overturn the results himself.

Prior to the beginning of the certification process in Congress, President Trump held a rally in Washington, DC, where he claimed that if Vice President Pence did the “right thing,” he would be given another term. 

The certification process began at 1:00 pm today, and though the vote counts from Alabama and Alaska-both states that voted for President Trump-were accepted with no issue, the first challenge came with the announcement of the vote in Arizona. This prompted a separation of the House of Representatives and Senate to enter debate on the issue. Soon after, protesters outside the Capitol began to break through barriers and storm the steps of the Capitol building. As crowds began to gather on the steps, others forced their way into the building, some breaking windows and climbing through them to enter. 

As rioters made their way through the building-many wearing Trump campaign memorabilia or carrying Confederate flags-lawmakers were sent into lockdown in their offices and instructed to wait until they were able to safely evacuate. Representatives were even given gas masks to protect themselves from tear gas that was deployed inside in an attempt to disperse rioters. One rioter, whose identity has not been released, was shot inside the Capitol and was brought to a local hospital where she has since passed away. Several law enforcement officers were also injured.

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC set a curfew for the city of 6:00 pm, before asking for assistance of the National Guard and defense from neighboring states. After the curfew went into effect, law enforcement officers were able to secure the Capitol building, and Congress has resumed debate on the acceptance of Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. Members of Congress expect the certification to be finished tonight.

The Saddest Day of Our Democracy

Only in today’s hyper-toxic political environment could the events of January 6th, 2020 occur. While over 100 Congressional Republicans, 10+ Senators, and the President objected to the valid results of the 2020 election, Americans who supported the President and everything he said became indoctrinated into his false premises. Let me repeat myself- Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the next President and Vice President of the United States. They won by substantial margins in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia. When questions arose as to the validity of the ballots cast, Team Trump used their legal rights and objected in court. They lost – a lot. To date over 60 petitions had been filed in courts across the country with a grand total of 0 resulting in a change of vote count. The legal process should have and did end there. What came afterward has been nothing short of despicable, egregious, and dangerous. Refusing to admit defeat, the President and his cronies began peddling misinformation- that the election was rigged (it wasn’t), or that Hugo Chavez (a deceased Dictator of Venezuela) had conspired with voting machines among other lies. With these lies repeated over and over again, one by one people who voted for the President felt disenfranchised and angry- and wanted action.

With Congress meeting to certify the Electoral College vote on January 6th, the President and his loyalists saw this moment as one last chance to attempt to overturn the election, a tactic completely unconstitutional and dangerous. His calls to overturn the election reverberated throughout the party, with cynical Senators such as Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) joining the President in his claims in an attempt to win over his base of support. Leading up to today’s Joint Session of Congress, was a scheduled rally of protesters to try and convince their congress members to “object” to the results of the 2020 election. This goal became realized when President Trump joined the protesters and spoke in front of Capitol Hill this morning, further fanning the flames of hatred towards those willing to uphold the rule of law.

Emboldened by their President and members of Congress trying to score political gains, many protesters stormed the capital, breaking through barricades and smashing windows, forcing a shutdown and evacuation of the buildings. Amidst the chaos and dysfunction, the most radical (relatively speaking) of the group broke into the Senate chamber, rushing the majority member’s chair and jumping from the scaffolding. Where was the President during this moment of domestic terrorism? Tweeting. The tweets and videos have since been taken down due to the risk of instigating more violence, with one of them criticizing VP Pence for refusing to object. All while people overcame Capital Police and lay siege on our Capital.

Never before in the history of our nation have we had a President or major candidate for the nation’s highest office refuse to concede an election. Never before have we had domestic terrorists lay siege upon our nation’s Capital. Today is truly a sad, despicable day.

Georgia Goes Blue: Warnock, Ossof Defeat Loeffler, Perdue In Runoff Election

Following the declaration of President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, many eyes of the political landscape turned to Georgia’s Senate election. Hidden among the chaos that was November 6, 2020, many states not only voted for the President but also for their Senators and Representatives in Congress. 

Following election night, almost every state was able to announce their winners soon after the votes were counted, all except Georgia. Georgia has a special rule in place that says a Senate candidate must win with at least 50%+1 of the vote in the state. If this fails to happen then the top two candidates will then move on to a runoff election where the winner will take the Senate seat. Georgia had two Senate seats up for reelection as Senator David Perdue’s term had expired, and one following the resignation of Senator Johnny Isakson. On January 6, both races were officially called, Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock beat out Republican Kelly Loeffler for Isakson’s seat and Democrat Jon Ossof beat incumbent Republican David Perdue. 

These results are key looking forward to the state of the Federal Government in the first two years of Biden’s presidency. With the double Democratic victory in Georgia, both chambers of Congress hold a Democratic majority. In the Nancy Pelosi led house Democrats lead 222-211. In the Senate, there is a 50-50 split, but the Vice President, Kamala Harris, will break ties for the Democrats. This means Democrats will likely be able to get a lot of bills passed in both houses without the need to pass through a chamber held by the opposing party. This being said we can likely expect a slew of bills being passed within the first two years of the Biden presidency as he looks to utilize this majority to his advantage. 

One thing is uncertain, however, could the progressive wing of the Democratic party attempt to use this majority to swing the democratic platform to the left by withholding their support unless their wants are met? Only time will tell. Democrats have full control of the federal government for the first time since the 111th Congress in 2009 following President Obama’s historic rise to the presidency.

Rising Stars of the Northeast

Whether one is a Republican or Democrat, there are new, young faces that represent their respective parties. From far-left Progressives to Trumpian Republicans, there are representatives of every ideological thought.

Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH)

A lovable moderate Republican from the Granite State, Governor Chris Sununu has been able to successfully straddle the Trump base while simultaneously securing votes from both Independents and moderate Democrats. Running as a social moderate and economic conservative/libertarian in 2016, Sununu was able to rally disaffected Obama voters into joining his voting coalition and beat his opponent, Colin van Ostern 49% to 46.7%, a healthy 17,000 votes. In addition, he was able to run ahead of then-President-elect Trump by 2.5 percentage points, laying the groundwork for New England Republicans who will run for office in the near future. His crossover appeal is one of his biggest assets, as is his record as governor. The most important of his executive actions have been met with widespread approval, including when it comes to addressing the COVID pandemic. According to the most recent UNH survey, Governor Sununu has a 71% approval rating on COVID, and a 69% overall approval, netting him the #5 spot of most approved governors in the nation. 

It is uncertain what the future holds for him, as rumors have been circulating as to whether he will run for Senate in 2022, return to the governorship, or even be a VP contender in 2024.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)

Whether you love her or despise her, it is undeniable AOC has taken Washington DC by storm. Winning unexpectedly during New York’s 14th District primary race immediately launched her into the spotlight, for various reasons. First, her opponent Joe Crowley was the 4th highest-ranking Democrat in the House and was rumored to be next in line for the speakership, a title very few have had the privilege of holding. Running to the left of a Hillary Clinton surrogate after 2016 in one of the most liberal districts in the country was a bet that paid off for Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez. Now a 2-term member of Congress with a lot of media exposure, expect AOC to push for more reforms and more power in varying committees for herself and other progressive members.

It is also worthy to note that AOC has not ruled out a Senate primary of Chuck Schumer in 2022, which could be potentially catastrophic for Democrats if they are matched with a viable Republican contender. Although New York is a solid-D state, nominating a far-left Progressive would definitely put the seat in jeopardy, with potential Independents and moderate-leaning Democrats willing to vote Republican.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY)

Elected in the 2014 “red wave”, Congresswoman Stefanik has quietly but surely become one of the GOP’s rising stars in Congress. Running as a moderate Republican from Upstate NY, Stefanik cruised through her primary and general, winning by a healthy 20.5% margin. Pro-life and a staunch supporter of the 2nd Amendment, Stefanik has been a strong voice for social conservatives, even speaking during a primetime spot at the 2020 RNC Convention. At only 36 years old, the sky’s the limit for this young Congresswoman.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-CT)

A young progressive elected in 2018’s “blue wave”, Congresswoman Hayes, a former Connecticut Teacher of the Year recipient, won by 11% in Connecticut’s 5th district. With a compelling story and an endorsement from former President Barack Obama, Hayes cruised through the primaries and general election against former Mayor of Meriden, Manny Santos. Since taking office, she has voted with the Progressive Caucus on many issues, including debt relief to those most at risk of falling into poverty. At 47 years old, there is a lot more to be expected from this experienced educator.

UNH Survey Center, “Sununu’s NH Job Approval Remains High; Handling of COVID-19 Falls 12/2/2020” (2020). All UNH Survey Center Polls. 628. 
https://scholars.unh.edu/survey_center_polls/628

“Governor Rankings.” Morning Consult, 4 Jan. 2021, morningconsult.com/governor-rankings/

 “Jahana Hayes.” Ballotpedia, 2020, ballotpedia.org/Jahana_Hayes. 

“Elise Stefanik.” Ballotpedia, 2020, ballotpedia.org/Elise_Stefanik. 

“Chris Sununu.” Ballotpedia, 2020, ballotpedia.org/Chris_Sununu. 

PELOSI WINS SPEAKERSHIP BY 2 VOTES

On Sunday afternoon, shortly after being sworn-in, members of the House of Representatives elected Nancy Pelosi as the next Speaker by just 2 votes. As we entered the new year, and up until the vote today, it was still unclear whether or not there would be enough votes to re-elect Pelosi to the speakership. Rumors circulating the capital had a group of recently elected Progressive Congress members, withholding their vote for Nancy Pelosi unless she agreed to an up-and-down floor vote on Medicare for All. Congress members Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) of New York and Cori Bush (D-MO) of Missouri in a recent CNN interview refused to say how they would vote, sparking more intrigue among pundits as to what they would do.

Going into today, Congresswoman Pelosi needed to receive a simple majority of votes cast and accomplished this, but by just 2 votes. There were 428 voting members out of the 435 in the chamber, and Nancy Pelosi received 216-just one more than the required 215. To much surprise, it was not just the vote count that was of interest, but who received votes as well. Congress members Connor Lamb (D-PA) of Pennsylvania, Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) of Virginia, Jared Golden (D-ME) of Maine, Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) of Michigan, and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) of New Jersey all chose not to vote for Congresswoman Pelosi. Congressman Lamb opted for Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), while Congressman Golden chose progressive Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) of Illinois. This is of note, as they are all considered “Moderate Democrats”, representing swing districts. To vote against their party in choosing a leader was of great risk and it will be interesting to see how that decision affects them in the next election cycle.

President Trump Bows to Bipartisan COVID Relief Bill

President Donald Trump has signed the latest COVID relief bill, which includes more Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses, as well as $600 direct payments to those eligible. This revelation comes amidst a recent veto threat issued by the President if the bill did not have $2000 in checks to the American people. The bill was an evolutionary piece of legislation originally set to be completed this past September, however, talks stalled until after the election.

Initially, Republicans proposed an $800 billion deal, only for the President to ask for $1.8 trillion, one of the largest spending deals in US history in the lead-up to November. For most likely political reasons, a deal was never reached until after the results came in. Nevertheless, Democratic and Republican lawmakers met for weeks on end through November and into December to reach a deal to help the American people. After the proposed bill still did not have direct payments and only unemployment insurance, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) teamed up in a concerted bipartisan effort to get checks to the American people, eventually getting $600 direct payments added to the relief bill.

Enter President Trump.

After getting bipartisan approval on the bill, the President addressed the nation with a threat to veto the bill if it did not have $2000 in direct payments – over triple the initial amount proposed. In his speech, he boldly stated “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a COVID relief package.” Had there been real follow through on previous threats, such as Congress fully funding a border wall, maybe there would have been more leverage. Instead, these recent threats came just a few days before the unemployment benefits for millions were set to expire. This situation put enormous pressure and time constraints on the White House to persuade Republicans to go along, all of whom wanted to be back with their loved ones for the Christmas holiday.

House Republicans didn’t go along with the change and stayed on course with their support for the bill that had already passed. With mounting pressure and little support from Republican members of Congress, Trump caved shortly after Christmas and signed the bill, granting emergency relief to those in most need. If the President wants his threats to remain credible and powerful then he must follow through, otherwise, they are meaningless.