A few weeks ago, Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the tech company’s decision to suspend Donald Trump’s account after the now former president stirred up the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Gov. Mike Dunleavy called the decision “frightening.” Because “If they can silence a former president, any of us could be next.”
What’s profoundly frightening for America is that Dunleavy and most of his fellow Republicans have imposed silence on themselves in the face of Trump’s unrelenting lies that the presidential election was stolen.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., isn’t one of them. She’d been the third-highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives until she repeatedly called out Trump for his lies.
“I am a conservative Republican and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law,” she said on the House floor on Tuesday. “The Electoral College has voted. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple judges he appointed, have rejected the former president’s claims. The Department of Justice in his administration investigated the former president’s claims of widespread fraud and found no evidence to support them. The election is over. That is the rule of law.”
And to her colleagues who refuse to tell Republican voters the truth, Cheney warned, “Remaining silent, and ignoring the lie, emboldens the liar.”
That’s exactly what happened between Election Day and Jan. 6.
Facebook was part of the problem. On Dec. 2, Trump used the platform to deliver a speech in which he made numerous false accusations about voter fraud. None of them stood up to scrutiny.
He spoke about massive vote dumps in Michigan and Wisconsin. And tens of thousands of people who went to vote for him in person but were told at the polling station that they had already voted.
Despite the fact it had been thoroughly debunked two weeks earlier, he repeated a claim that 67 counties in Michigan had more registered voters than voting age citizens.
The evidence of “fraud that we’ve collected in recent weeks is overwhelming,” he claimed near the end of his 46-minute rant.
But Trump’s own attorney general had gone on the record a day earlier stating that U.S. attorneys and FBI had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
And a week later, he submitted no evidence of fraud with the brief he filed on the election lawsuit pending in the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, his attorney argued it wasn’t necessary “to prove that fraud occurred.” The main “constitutional issue is not whether voters committed fraud but whether state officials violated the law by systematically loosening the measures for ballot integrity so that fraud becomes undetectable.”
Dunleavy foolishly backed that lawsuit. But the Supreme Court unanimously refused to consider it.
That didn’t stop Trump from whining about voter fraud between then and Jan. 6. After greeting his supporters that day, he told them his “election victory” was being “stolen by emboldened radical-left Democrats.” He explained the evidence he had would prove “we won this election and we won it by a landslide.”
Then, while Congress was preparing to certify the election, his supporters stormed the Capitol.
For Cheney, who had held her tongue for two months, it was the final straw.
“There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution,” she said before voting to impeach Trump.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski had also been silent about his election lies.
“I allowed myself to refrain from speaking my truth,” Murkowski said. “And I can’t just be quiet right now.”
She called on Trump to resign. When he didn’t, she voted to convict him on the impeachment charges.
The Alaskan Republican Party censured Murkowski for that vote. And pledged to recruit a primary challenger to oppose her in 2022.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, however, has said he’ll support Murkowski if she runs again.
Don’t expect Dunleavy to back her though. Especially if Trump follows through with his promise to come here and campaign against her. Because Dunleavy seems to think his own reelection bid depends on obedience to a party that’s chosen to be totally subservient to a delusional, compulsive liar.
Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector.