Any talks of political 'unity' should start with a unified repudiation of last week's events, as well as the punishment of all of those responsible
Last Wednesday President Donald Trump instigated an insurrection in an effort to overturn the results of the election he lost. As a result of his incitement, a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building. Their efforts forced Congress to suspend operations and seek shelter and led to multiple deaths and widespread destruction.
Mere hours later, five Republican members of Congress from Ohio gave aid and comfort to that insurrection by voting to reject the Electoral College certification of Pennsylvania's and Arizona's electors — a certification the obstruction of which was the deadly mob's very purpose.
The five Ohioans who sided with the mob were Jim Jordan of Urbana, Bill Johnson of Marietta, Bob Gibbs of Lakeville, Steve Chabot of Cincinnati and Warren Davidson of Troy, all of whom voted against Pennsylvania's certification. All but Chabot objected to Arizona's certification. They were unsuccessful in accomplishing their goal, but their votes spoke loudly and clearly as to their values. They showed that their loyalty is to Trump, not the Constitution. They showed that they either earnestly believe his lies and disinformation or, at the very least, are happy to cynically tolerate and use those lies and disinformation for their own political gain.Get Craig Calcaterra's Local Politics column delivered free to your inbox every other Tuesday: Sign up for our daily newsletter
While these five were the only Ohio Republicans who actively validated the insurrection via their official acts, they were not alone among Ohio Republicans in tacitly approving of the mob's tactics or denying the seriousness of what occurred.
State Rep. Kris Jordan suggested in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the people who stormed the Capitol were anti-Trump plants. Elsewhere on social media, House Majority Whip Jay Edwards, State Rep. Jon Cross and State Rep. Gary Click suggested that left-wing groups like Antifa were actually responsible. As we move further away from last Wednesday's violence, we will no doubt see more Republicans erroneously claim or imply that the insurrection was the work of left-wing provocateurs in an effort to hide their own complicity.
And make no mistake, they were complicit. Jim Jordan and other Ohio Republicans knew exactly what they were doing as they spent the past two months baselessly alleging fraud in the November election. In so doing they helped whip up a deranged frenzy among right-wing extremists, which formed the basis of the insurrection. They did this in service of a cynical political gamble aimed at positioning themselves as Trump's ideological successors and bolstering their conservative bona fides. It was a gamble that cost at least five people their lives and did untold damage to American democracy.
As efforts to impeach President Trump and punish those who took part in the insurrection gain steam, we'll likely hear more of what we heard from Jordan on Saturday when he tweeted, "‘Unity and healing' doesn’t happen with cancel culture and impeachment." It takes a lot of nerve to ask for "unity" in the form of Democrats standing down less than a week after Republicans stoked an attempted coup, but Jordan and his ilk have never lacked the capacity to surprise.
All of Ohio's many Republican leaders who supported and defended Trump over the years and who perpetuated and amplified his lies played a role in recent events. Ohio Republicans who used their offices in an explicit attempt to nullify the results of the election and thereby helped stoke an insurrection have taken things in an even more dangerous and irresponsible direction.
If there is "unity" to be found now, it can only rationally be found in a unified repudiation of last week's riots and all that led up to them, as well as the punishment of those responsible for it. All of those responsible.