We are “a government of laws rather than a government of men.”
That’s what outgoing S.C. Gov. Fritz Hollings told the General Assembly 58 years ago. The state’s fight against desegregation was over, he said, and it was time to move on. They did. In turn, Charleston’s Harvey Gantt became the first Black student to start at an all-white state college.
Last week, too many Americans forgot the lesson. Blinded by an allegiance to a narcissistic president who can’t admit he lost an election fair and square, his acolytes charged the U.S. Capitol in a cowardly and deadly attack on American democracy that left five dead.
These hard-right extremists showed just how un-American they are in their hero worship of a powermonger, President Donald Trump, ahead of the common good and ideals enshrouded in the U.S. Constitution. His departure won’t come soon enough — through resignation, impeachment, invocation of the 25th Amendment or the passage of one more week.
But Trump is not the only one who needs to go. We also point to members of Congress who continued to carry Trump’s water after the riot was over and the Capitol building was secured. Congress should be applauded for getting back to work immediately after the riot to finish the business of the day — Biden’s certification. They showed they wouldn’t be intimidated by insurrectionists egged on by fealty to a failed president.
What’s amazingly disappointing is how many of Trump’s congressional enablers — people who have long put loyalty to his wishes before loyalty to the country — didn’t have a lightbulb moment as they cowered and a mob pillaged. They didn’t understand how words have impact. They didn’t grasp democracy was under attack or how the riot they helped incite changed everything. So when they emerged, they still wanted to prove to people back home that they backed a deranged, coup-driven president. But these members of Congress insulted us, showing they wanted a government of people, not a government of laws.
Five South Carolina congressmen, all of whom live in safe GOP districts, failed the Palmetto State last week for continuing to breathe life into Trump’s utterly false claim that the election was stolen from him. They should be ashamed of themselves and resign from positions of public trust. These men — Joe “You Lie” Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman, Tom Rice and William Timmons — defiled the Constitution last week.
Shame on each of you. Resign.
Give credit to freshman GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of Daniel Island who saw through the charade and voted with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of Columbia to confirm the votes of the Electoral College. Longtime Trump enabler, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, and colleague Tim Scott also voted to stop the madness.
Now it’s time to move beyond what former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called America’s “Day of Broken Glass,” a modern reference to Nazi horrors in 1938 Austria. It’s time to heal and fix divisions across the United States. That can start with fewer bad eggs in Congress and more people who believe in the promise of America, still a shining city on a hill.