The Capitol has been trashed by big boys and girls who should have known better. It is hard to take a bearded, bare chested man with cow horns on his head seriously, let alone as an adult, but he and others broke windows, beat up cops, killing one, wounding others; had one of their own shot by police; and trampled another one of their own to death.
This was not just a riot it was an insurrection. It has resulted in seventy of them being charged with criminal activity, and President Trump being impeached for encouraging them. But what of the Representatives and Senators who set the scene for the riot by challenging the election results? Nothing. But for their actions, this would have been just another rather boring certification of the Electoral College votes.
But it wasn’t, and that’s because the Senators and Representatives set the stage for what they knew would be an emotional, if not violent confrontation with protesters. They knew their hands were clean because after all, their weapons were only words and they were Senators and Representatives.
After the carnage, and after having done his best to provide verbal fodder to the mob storming the Capitol, Texas Senator Ted Cruz denied any blame for the mayhem that followed his words. Likewise, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin when asked if his actions to not accept the electoral votes in some states had any effect on the riot.
“Not remotely,” he said. “What I was doing and what the other senators, were doing is what we were elected to do”. (Which apparently includes inciting to riot.) Likewise, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri denied that raising his fist in a power salute to the mob was of any consequence.
But that’s not what the business leaders of America thought. They thought the legislators were guilty as hell. In response they announced that they would no longer donate to the campaigns of the 147 legislators who opposed certifying the electoral vote, including Montana’s Steve Daines, and newly elected Matt Rosendale. These aren’t penny ante businesses, either. They are companies like Walmart, AT&T, 3M, Disney, Amazon, Verizon, and a host of others.
And why did they make that decision to defund the politicians when they had previously been happy to contribute to them? “No one thought they were giving money to people who supported sedition,” said Jamie Dimon, CEO of banking giant JPMorgan Chase.
Whatever, shrugged Cruz, Johnson, and Hawley. Wasn’t their fault. But just to be on the safe side, after the melee that got five people killed and the capitol trashed, Cruz thought it would be helpful for Americans to “come together and put this anger and division behind us.” That would be the “anger and division” that Cruz did his level best to create.
That is like a person accused of a felony appearing before a judge and saying “Your honor, I know that slugging that storekeeper and taking his money was wrong but let’s put all that behind us.” Except that the noble Senators neither admit nor feel guilt.
“Putting Things behind us”, “Starting over”, “Coming together”, and “letting bygones be bygones” is the first order of business for a person or group that finds itself on the losing end of an argument. It’s the politician’s equivalent of an Alford plea where the accused doesn’t admit to having done anything wrong but doesn’t think a jury would see things his way.
It’s as if that which should be put behind us is not really a big thing, or maybe it is, but it’s been blown all out of proportion. In short, it means that whatever happened needs to be minimized for the comfort of the perpetrator.
If Cruz wants to put things behind us, he needs to admit fault, but what he is instead doing is asking the Nation to ignore his actions and move on. It is a way of shifting blame to those who object to what he did because they aren’t being cooperative and don’t think we should move on without addressing the action. An apology would help, too, but dream on.
“Let’s put things behind us” is the statement of a loser who knows he is a loser. He wants us to ignore what happened in the past. We could but if we did then we would be ignoring what will happen in the future, a future we need to be thinking about more and more.
Jim Elliott served sixteen years in the Montana Legislature as a state representative and state senator and four years as chairman of the Montana Democratic Party. He lives on his ranch in Trout Creek. Montana Viewpoint appears in weekly papers across Montana and online at missoulacurrent.com.