Days after it became clear that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election, Senator Ron Johnson was asked by a reporter if he was congratulating Joe Biden on his win. “Nothing to congratulate him for,” was Johnson’s snarky reply. A month later, Johnson used his platform as the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee to broadcast conspiracy theories about the election. And, in early January, Johnson announced his intention to vote against certification of the election results, a plan interrupted only by a violent mob of right-wing militants attacking the Capitol, incited by President Donald Trump.
Johnson has been a leader in lying to the very people he claims to represent, stirring up anger and fear among his and the President’s supporters. He knowingly repeated lies about the election, and the militants that stormed the Capitol took him at his word. Wisconsinites are furious and Senator Johnson is at a crossroads: vote to convict the President or heed the calls for his resignation.
Rebukes of Johnson have swept through Wisconsin’s op-ed pages, including Johnson’s very first endorser in 2010. The Editorial Boards of the Wisconsin State Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rightfully criticized Senator Johnson and his co-conspirators, Representative Tom Tiffany and Representative Scott Fitzgerald, who were prepared to throw out our votes in Wisconsin’s presidential election. At least 17 citizens from around the state have written letters to the editor to express their distaste for their senior senator. Thousands have signed petitions calling for Johnson’s removal.
Johnson has a chance this week to repair some of the damage he has caused to our democracy. He must vote to convict Donald Trump for the offense of inciting an attack on the Capitol. He must also tell President Trump’s supporters that Joe Biden won fair and square and that the lies he and others told about the election were just that—lies.
In the wake of the 1.6.21 attack, unity is needed. We need unity around accountability, justice, and the preservation of our sacred norms around the peaceful transfer of power. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is leaning towards voting for conviction and Senator Johnson should make the patriotic choice to hold President Trump and his accomplices accountable and stand up for American democracy. With five dead, the transition to the Biden Administration can tragically no longer be categorized a peaceful transfer of power. Those responsible for the 1.6.21 attack need to be held accountable to ensure that a precedent of violence is not set in our country.
If Senator Johnson will not fulfill his oath of office and vote to protect our democracy, there is only one option left: his resignation. Senator Johnson swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” If he cannot fulfill that duty, he has no business governing in our name.
President Trump’s actions are a threat to our democratic values and the rule of law. We must remove from office all those who protect President Trump over our Constitution and our democracy. Only then can we deliver a better future, where democracy means liberty and justice for all, no exceptions.