Republican congressmen who voted to certify the Electoral College vote say that they fear for their families’ safety as well as their own.
One of those congressmen, Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan, is matter-of-fact about the opposition to his vote. “We realize that was a vote we cast that put our safety at risk and going forward. I am expecting there will likely be more political violence,” said Meijer. “So my expectation and the expectation of some folks I’m talking to who are trying to vote our conscience on this, there will be folks that try to kill us, and that’s something we have to grapple with every day.”
Ordinarily, I’d say that Meijer is exaggerating the danger. But what we witnessed a week ago and since then has convinced me that the forces of darkness and violence on the right have been loosed and just about anything is possible.
There is a desperate attempt to justify the violence and breaching of the Capitol — as if it were just part of the normal tug-of-war between Democrats and Republicans. There’s nothing normal about it. It was an abomination. It had nothing to do with democracy or election integrity or any legitimate political expression. It was illegal, immoral, and anti-American.
And the blame for that lies squarely with the president of the United States.
The Afghanistan and Iraq veteran, who favors a censure of the president but is officially undecided on impeachment, said he wished he could bring a gun to work, and then explained why.
“Our assumption,” Meijer said, “especially those of us who went in knowing we were going to vote to certify the election, knowing that was going to draw their ire, and especially those who are, you know, going to vote our conscience tomorrow on impeachment…there’s an assumption that people will try to kill us.”
Meijer isn’t the only freshman GOP member standing up despite the threats. Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina told CNN that “we have to take responsibility” for what happened. She called the Capitol breach “domestic terrorism.” That was enough to provoke threats against her and her family.
“I’m a single working mom of two kids,” she continued. “I’m a constitutional conservative and I’ve been joined by constitutional conservatives both in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, both of my U.S. senators also supported us on the certification of the Electoral College last week.”
Mace went on to say she believes “it would mean a lot to this country if Republicans and Democrats would raise their hand and take responsibility for the things and the violence and the rhetoric” leading up to the deadly incident at the Capitol.
Wrapped my arms around these two tonight ❤️❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/Mrl6dV7JYU
— Nancy Mace (@NancyMace) January 9, 2021
Only a handful of Republicans will brave the consequences and vote to impeach. How many more might vote their conscience if free to do so? What matters is that in America in 2021, any member of Congress, no matter his political party or ideology, has to be in fear for their lives and the lives of their families because of what they believe.
That’s not America — at least, any America I’m familiar with.