It’s always the little guys who take the fall, not those who fuel their delusions and rage like 1st District Congressman Rob Wittman.
Not only are these little guys from the insurrection being arrested and losing their jobs (likely to cost many of them their health insurance during a pandemic), but one of their ranks was shot and lost her life. Another young rioter may have been trampled to death. Those who killed the Capitol police officer are likely to spend the rest of their lives in prison. And finally, the riot may well become a coronavirus super spreader event, not only for the rioters but also for our Congresspeople who were driven into a confined space with insufficient social distance where several Republicans refused to wear the masks that were offered.
This is not to say that the rioters should escape accountability, just that those who gave them the rationale for storming Congress must be held accountable as well.
Not being a constitutional scholar or lawyer, I consulted our family lawyer on Wittman’s arguments for questioning the election results. To paraphrase him, Wittman was incorrect in arguing that Pennsylvania’s votes were invalid because they expanded mail-in voting options. It is the state’s prerogative to set their own voting rules, not the federal government’s or anyone else’s. Wittman also failed to mention that changes were made to protect citizens from the deadly coronavirus.
On Wittman’s claim that the electoral certification last Wednesday was more than ceremonial, the lawyer said not so. The constitution and federal statute established an essentially ceremonial role for Congress once the states certified their votes foreclosing any further challenges. No clerk could substitute for the Vice-President’s role as Wittman claimed would occur if the count was just a formality because congressional functions must be carried out only by a constitutional presiding officer.
As to the disenfranchisement of those who questioned the election, this is a dog chasing its own tail. Wittman and his other 145 congressional collaborators, along with Trump and right-wing media, sowed doubts among the voters, then argued that the election was not legitimate because these voters believed the false claims they were fed.
Over the course of this election, I was amazed at the many Republican officials across America at every level of government who acted with intelligence and integrity in the face of threats, insults and defamation from President Trump. Unfortunately, 1st District Congressman Rob Wittman was not one them. And only the little guys – not Wittman – are paying the price.