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Op-Ed | This is simple – are you FOR or AGAINST democracy?

Members of the National Guard are given weapons before Democrats begin debating one article of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, U.S., January 13, 2021.
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

By Jay S. Jacobs

As the New York State Democratic Chairman, there are many who will immediately discount my words as “political.” The Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection and riot, for me and most Americans, was a defining moment for our country. It was a moment of clarity. There is nothing more important to me than this country. My family comes second, my party a distant third.

Without this country, I wouldn’t have a family. My father’s ancestors emigrated in the 1840s in search of a better life. My mother fled Nazi Germany in 1939 in order to save her life. The democracy they were drawn to, imperfect as it is, created everything we hold dear. And, at our end of the bargain, as citizens of a democracy, is that we accept the results of free and fair elections whether we like them or not.

For the attack on our democracy, the President needs to be removed from office. I have also called for the resignation of the four members of Congress from New York State who voted against the certification of the Electoral College on Jan. 6-7 – even after the violent insurrection that threatened their lives, the lives of their colleagues and capitol police officers, and the future of our democracy.

Outgoing President Trump, predicated on the clear lie of a stolen election, incited his adherents to come to Washington and then march on the Capitol with the malicious intent of stopping the constitutionally mandated count of the Electoral Votes. He wanted to overturn the election. He knew there was no massive fraud and no credibility to his claims.

And so did the New York Foul Four; Lee Zeldin, Nicole Malliatokis, Elise Stefanik and Chris Jacobs (no relation) that supported and propagated that lie. Their fear of Trump’s base led them to put ambition and opportunism above our democracy and our country.

Yet as bad as their support of this lie was, I don’t call for their resignations because their personal ambitions and political opportunism got the better of them. History is replete with examples of failed politicians who succumbed to the same temptations and yet continued in service to their constituents.

The New York Foul Four, as well as all of their Congressional colleagues who cast that same vote, need to resign because after seeing what occurred in their House – in our House – after hearing Trump’s exhortations to the mob and after it was clear that those lies were the cause of an insurrection which resulted in the desecration of our Capitol, the death of protestors and police officers, and an attack on our Democracy, they continued forward.

This was a violent coup attempt. Even though the mob chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as they violently occupied the Senate Chamber these members saw nothing wrong with voting in support of that lie and the mob’s insurrection.

Even recently defeated Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, who had similarly vowed to oppose certification, found the day’s events too odious to sustain her previous position. She had the courage to do the right thing.

Zeldin, Malliatokis, Stefanik and Jacobs found no such courage.

The Foul Four chose to cast their lot with the insurrection they were complicit in fomenting, and they now own the sad consequences of their unpatriotic judgment. People died because of that insurrection – including a Capitol police officer. They own that.

You are either for democracy or against it. There is no middle ground.

While I would always favor a Democrat in their seats, unlike them, I fully respect the rights of the voters in their districts, if they choose, to be represented by a Republican. It just should not be those Republicans.

By their actions, they have violated their oath of office, stained both the American Republic they serve and name of the party on whose ticket they ran. The Republican Party has no shortage of honorable, courageous, decent, patriotic Americans who can represent those districts.

Unfortunately, by their vote on Jan. 6, the New York Foul Four have clearly established that they are not among them.

Jay S. Jacobs is the Chairman of the New York State Democrats.

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