Last week, after months of escalating rhetoric and disinformation, President Trump incited a violent insurrection at our nation’s Capitol. Five people died, including a police officer. Many more could have died. He encouraged supporters to use violence to overturn the results of a democratic election.
As a nation, and as a Member of Congress, we can’t simply ignore these events. Accountability is required. For that reason, if Vice President Pence and the President’s Cabinet will not act, I will support the article of impeachment against the President.
I don’t take this step lightly. I spent the weekend talking with members of Congress, local elected officials, friends and 8th district residents. Some of those conversations with my Republican colleagues were particularly hard. And just as with the impeachment proceedings last year, I tried to ground myself in the facts and laws.
The textbook definition of terrorism is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. The definition of an insurrection is a violent uprising against a government. Last Wednesday, the president incited domestic terrorists and an insurrection against the constitutional rule of law. His oath to protect and defend the Constitution was broken, a co-equal branch of government was terrorized, and five people died.
These actions are beyond the pale. And the timing of these events, so close to the transfer of power on Jan. 20, does not nullify the need for accountability. The use of violence in American politics cannot be tolerated, and if we sweep it under the rug it will simply keep happening over and over again. It will become a regular tool to meter out winners and losers. For this reason, in addition to supporting a vote on impeachment, I also support the censure of any elected official, federal or local, who similarly incites violence.
It is unbelievable to me that I find myself in a position to vote a second time to impeach a sitting President. I wish for our nation, and especially for my district in mid-Michigan, that this was not the issue before us. There are so many other things we must work on that have an impact on peoples’ pocketbooks and their kids –– especially in the midst of a once-in-a-generation global pandemic.
But as has been my guiding principle throughout my career in national security, and now in Congress, there are simply some things that go beyond politics –– and certainly beyond any one congressperson being re-elected. And those things are matters of principle. They are about preserving the sacred rights afforded to each of our citizens in our founding documents. History has come for all of us in elected office, and our actions in these tense days will be remembered, one way or another.
Sadly, we in Michigan have seen more than our fair share of incitement and threats of violence over the past year. It made us more experienced than most as the events of last Wednesday unfolded.
But I also know the good in people here, and that the actions of the loud few do not represent the norm. We are one nation, with a shared destiny. There is no separating out into different Americas, especially in Michigan. We must figure out how to move forward. No less than the future of the republic –– and our national security –– depend on it.