Opinion: Republican Leaders who Held Trump Accountable for the Capitol Riots Should Not be Forgiven

Noa Yolkut, Grade 10, Entertainment and Features Editor

On January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol was raided by a Trump-supporting mob, incited by the President himself. This occurred while Congress was holding a joint session to officially confirm President Joe Biden’s electoral college win, presided over by former Vice President Mike Pence. President Trump pressured Vice President Pence to overturn the election results in his favor, to which Pence did not comply.


Some conservative lawmakers, like Senator Mitch McConnell and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, spoke out against the actions of the President, which drew praise from many Democrats. Although we should have respect for their actions, this respect should not lead to forgiveness.


Since Trump has come into the political scene, he has mocked a special needs reporter, bragged about raping and assaulting multiple women, separated families at the border, continuously denied climate change, withdrawn from the Paris Climate Agreement, tear-gassed peaceful protestors, denied military aid to Ukraine unless they found dirt on Hunter Biden, and contributed to more than 400,000 American COVID-19 deaths. And those are just a few notable examples. Pence, McConnell, and Cheney did not speak out against any of these actions. It took an attempted coup and their own lives being on the line to incite them to act against the President's bidding.


During Trump’s first impeachment trial in early 2020, 195 House Republicans and 53 Senate Republicans did not vote to impeach or convict him. So why, for Republican lawmakers like Cheney and McConnell who voted to impeach and are considering voting to convict, was this crime worse than the last? Here is a hint: it is not about morality, it is about politics. During the first impeachment, they realized that an incompetent Republican in office was better than no Republican. These politicians did not want to mess up the image of the party going into the 2020 election. Now that Trump is out of office, they want to rid the Republican “brand” of Trump. They know that if the majority of Republicans continue to base their ideals on QAnon theories, support will continue to dwindle until the Republican party becomes obsolete.


Above all else though, any Democrat giving praise to these three individuals likely disagrees with most of the actions they have taken over the course of their careers. When Pence was the Governor of Indiana, he signed a bill that allowed Indiana businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ+ employees, refused to reduce emissions in his state because he was a supporter of coal, delayed the response to an HIV outbreak in Indiana in 2014 because he didn’t want to allow for needle exchanges, and refused to help Syrian refugees in his state. Holding up the election results is a low bar for a Vice President, and doing that does not make up for his past actions.


Cheney spoke out in protest of same-sex marriage during a congressional campaign, staining her relationship with her lesbian sister, sister-in-law, and their children. Additionally, she claimed, during her 2014 Senate campaign, that President Obama had declared war on the First and Second amendments. More recently, she voted against a bill that would make knowingly spreading voting misinformation a federal crime. Once again, Liz Cheney’s response to the most recent impeachment trial does not excuse her past actions.


Finally, McConnell blocked Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of now-Attorney General Merrick Garland because of its proximity to an election. Four years later, he pushed Trump’s nominee, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, through the Senate while Americans were sending in their mail-in votes. He refused to call the Senate into session early to convict President Trump and single-handedly led the way in making America and the federal government extremely partisan. Throughout his career, McConnell has passed legislation that goes against much of what the Democratic party stands for. Any Democrat who praised what he has said over the last few weeks should remember all the awful things he has done, even when Trump was not in office.


Most Republican lawmakers have stood by the President and his despicable tactics over the last four years when they should have been standing by the American people. They ended up hurting America, maybe even to a point where things will never be the same again. One declaration, no matter how big, cannot change that. Trumpism is alive and well, even if Trump is out of office. There is no reason to forgive our leaders who were long-time accomplices to wrongful actions.