In an unhinged and uninformed editorial, the Journal Sentinel called for my resignation or expulsion from the U.S. Senate. Among its many baseless charges, it accuses me of “inciting violence and an act of domestic terrorism,” being “a leading member of the Senate Sedition Caucus,” “stoking an insurrection,” “violating my solemn oaths,” being a racist (they must have overlooked my involvement with Milwaukee’s Joseph Project), and “shilling for Trump” (apparently along with 74 million other Americans who voted for him).
All this because I did half of what Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer did in 2005 when she objected to Ohio’s electors, forcing a two-hour debate. Unlike Senator Boxer — who to my knowledge was never asked to resign or be expelled — I did not vote to sustain the objection. When asked by the AP immediately afterward why I voted no, I responded, “We needed to have the debate, but we also need to respect the rule of law and our constitutional constraints.” Does that sound like incitement or a violation of my oath?
Far from “stoking an insurrection,” an honest examination of my actions would show me attempting to defuse growing passions. Ever since the Electoral College met, I have acknowledged that Vice President Biden is the president-elect and repeatedly said I could not envision any scenario where Biden electors would be rejected. Supporting the first objection gave me a voice in negotiations to bring about an honest but not endless debate.
But we needed to have the debate. A growing belief that votes to disallow electors would be based on one vote per state — where Republicans have an advantage — instead of involving every member, had to be proven false. It is also important to acknowledge — instead of scornfully dismissing — the legitimate concerns of tens of millions of Americans and to recognize that it is not sustainable that so many have lost faith in our institutions and the fairness of our electoral process.
Those who have lost confidence are not crazy. They are citizens who dearly love America and are alarmed by what they witnessed over the last four years: political opponents decrying a duly elected president as illegitimate and participating in a resistance to him; a thoroughly corrupt FBI investigation of that duly elected president; a grossly biased media that chose a side and used its power to interfere in our politics to a far greater extent than any foreign entity could ever hope to achieve; an increasingly powerful social media that censors news and conservative voices; and courts and election officials that usurp the constitutional authority of state legislatures in setting the times, places and manner of holding elections.
They were reminded of the Carter-Baker Commission’s caution regarding absentee balloting: “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” Then they saw Covid being exploited to dramatically increase absentee voting — and simultaneous extensive efforts to weaken the controls governing it. They heard that Facebook’s CEO spent almost half a billion dollars to increase Democrat turnout in Democrat-controlled jurisdictions, and they wonder, “Is that even legal?”
Then on election day, they saw poll watchers being thrown out or obstructed from observing.
They heard credible allegations of voting fraud that they know are too rarely investigated or prosecuted, of large Democrat-controlled counties dumping their vote totals in the wee hours of the morning only after Republican counties have reported, election officials and others refusing to turn over evidence to those investigating irregularities, and courts refusing to hear what evidence was obtained and instead dismissing election challenges on procedural grounds.
The Journal Sentinel is wrong to imply these citizens would shut up and forget their concerns if only elected Republicans tell them to. This is not a problem that can be swept aside with the hope it will somehow solve itself. I recognized this early and held a hearing in December (full video here), but was only able to scratch the surface of the issues involved. Witnesses testified under oath, subject to the penalties of perjury, but the Journal Sentinel calls it “bogus.” My opening statement in no way can be viewed as an incitement. Unless election irregularities are fully investigated and explanations provided, I fear this problem will fester and could lead to even greater rancor and division.
I hoped this debate would serve as a wake-up call to state legislatures to recognize the legitimacy of these concerns, fully investigate the irregularities in their states, reassert their authority over federal elections, and establish controls to restore confidence in our election system. The solution lies in the states, not with the federal government. For the future unity of our nation, it is crucial that states properly shoulder their responsibility, take the action required, and alleviate any doubt that future elections will be fair and legitimate.
There is no justification for the violence that occurred at the Capitol. I condemned it then and I condemn it now. I also offer my sincere condolences to the loved ones of those who died. But unlike many in the media and on the left, I am consistent in my condemnation of “peaceful protests” that become violent. Where is the media condemnation of Democrats who have actually promoted violence over the last four years and, prior to the election, told President-elect Biden never to concede?
Prior to publishing its partisan screed, the Journal Sentinel could have reviewed the public record and investigated the validity of its baseless and incendiary allegations against me. Casually and wrongly using terms like “insurrection,” “incitement,” “sedition” and “domestic terrorism” might feel good when putting pen to paper, but when the state’s largest “news” publication does it, it simply confirms what a large percentage of Americans already believe: The mainstream media have dropped all pretense of objectivity and can no longer be trusted. It’s well past time for the media to look in the mirror and acknowledge the role their bias has played in widening our national divide and exacerbating the problem.