January 7, 2021
Facts matter. Words matter. Leadership matters.
Yesterday’s assault on the Capitol by an angry mob incited by President Donald Trump to disrupt the electoral process stunned and saddened millions of citizens in this country and democratic leaders around the world.
Energized by baseless and outrageous assertions of election fraud promoted ceaselessly by the President and echoed by his enablers, these extremists looted and defaced the Capitol and attempted an insurrection. Never in modern history has this country seen such a blatant attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election. What’s remarkable is that even after the looting and violence, which left four people dead, 139 members of the House and eight members of the Senate still voted to object to election results that had been duly certified by the states and that had withstood 60 legal challenges across the country.
The Committee of Seventy is one of the oldest good government groups in the country, founded in 1904 to strengthen our local democracy and to protect and improve the voting process in Pennsylvania. We’ve taken that mission seriously for over 116 years. We condemn all those who participated in or supported the riot inside and around the Capitol. Moreover, we censure and condemn the eight members of the Pennsylvania delegation who voted to reject the election results from our own state. The citizens of the Commonwealth need to know, and long remember their names:
John Joyce Fred Keller Scott Perry
Mike Kelly Daniel Meuser Guy Reschenthaler
Lloyd Smucker Glenn Thompson
These members of Congress failed their own constituents. They failed to acknowledge the fact—as established over and over again in court, where judges must rule based on evidence and the law—that the 2020 elections in Pennsylvania were free and fair. These members were swayed by the endless propaganda—going back to 2016—from Donald Trump and his allies that cast shadows on the electoral process. They failed the most basic test of leadership, which is to tell voters the truth.
On the floor of the Senate last night, Republican Senator Mitt Romney delivered a passionate defense of the election and its outcome, while excoriating those who stood in the House and Senate to reject the results. Responding to the claim that the results should be rejected because “many people” were upset and felt they were fraudulent, Senator Romney responded that the job of an elected representative is not simply to respond to the passions of their constituents. A representative must also use their own faculties to consider the facts and form their own judgment. When, as in the case of the 2020 elections, those facts contradict the steady stream of conspiracies spewed by the President and his enablers, the choice is clear. Said Romney: The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That’s the burden. That’s the duty of leadership.
In 1787, when the members of the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia to give birth to our government, they were gravely concerned about the dangers of mob rule. Frightened by the excesses of Shays Rebellion in Massachusetts and the early rumblings of the French Revolution, the framers of our Constitution embedded a series of checks, balances, and separations of power that would, they hoped, emphasize reason and representative government to guard against the tyranny of the majority.
Yesterday their worst fears came close to being realized.
This week is one of the darkest in American history. We hope the fever is breaking, but by no means is the health of our democracy secure. Only when our elected officials, at all levels of government, commit to seeking the truth, and to temper the passions of their constituents with that truth, will our democracy regain its health.
President and CEO
Committee of Seventy