Opinion | How many Rusty Bowers Republicans are out there?

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Note to all Republican Party politicians: you have to decide. You can be a Rusty Bowers Republican. Or you can be a Donald Trump Republican.

It may be someone telling Donald Trump’s consigliere, Rudy Giuliani: “’Look, you’re asking me to do something that goes against my oath of office, when I was sworn to uphold the Constitution. And I also swore to the Constitution and laws of the state of Arizona. And this is totally foreign to me as an idea or a theory.”

That’s the path Arizona House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers took when he refused to cast aside his state’s voters’ decision to support Democrat Joe Biden, even though Bowers had supported Trump and had campaigned for him.

Or it may be someone for whom oaths, laws, the Constitution, and the preservation of democracy are completely foreign to their worldview. For Trump, power and self-interest are everything.

And so Trump encouraged violence against poll workers, asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find 11,780 votes” for him that didn’t exist, and encouraged his campaign to support fake polling place lists that would they would support even though their states had supported it. Biden.

Many moments in the January 6 committee hearings have underscored that there is a moral vacuum where Trump’s conscience should be. But there is something even worse than trying to cheat, break the law and lie. It is the will of the former president to attack public servants who do their duty and incite supporters to threaten them with violence.

Every Republican official should hear several times the words of Ruby Freeman, a Georgia poll worker falsely accused of wrongdoing by Trump and his cronies: “Do you know how it feels to be attacked by the President of the United States?”

Her daughter, Shaye Moss, who also did civic service as a poll worker, testified about Trump supporters breaking into her grandmother’s house to conduct a “citizen arrest” She recounted how hateful racist threats turned her into a recluse and made her gain 60 pounds.

Republican politicians have been surprisingly quiet about the big facts at the January 6 hearings. His reticence speaks to the success of the investigative committee. He has presented so much convincing evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing, with most of the testimony coming from Republicans, that GOP leaders are finding few ways to defend him or discredit the committee’s work. His “just the facts, ma’am” approach leaves little room for dissent.

But silence is not the correct answer. Anyone who has read accounts of the hearings, let alone seen them in detail, can come to only one conclusion about Trump, what he tried to do with power, and what he would do if he ever came close to power again.

To refuse to break with Trump now, forcefully and definitively, is to demonstrate a total indifference to what the ethics of a constitutional republic and a democracy require. Remaining aloof is the opposite of being an Edmund Burke conservative, the kind who, like that 18th-century politician and philosopher, understands that institutions must be nurtured and that rule by mob is dangerous.

His terror of Trump’s power in the Republican primary can no longer be his excuse. burke was right: “No passion so effectively strips the mind of all its powers to act and reason as fear.”

They should let Bowers free them to reason and act. A solid conservative, he defended his pledge, and what he saw as the demands of his faith, when doing so was difficult, when Trump and his minions besieged him. Isn’t he the kind of Republican that a patriotic American could proudly speak to his children about?

They should let Raffensperger, who defeated a Trump-backed candidate in the Georgia primary earlier this year, set them free. He offered a simple but compelling reason that Trump’s election fabrications and manipulations must be rejected, despite Trump’s threats and lobbying. “The numbers are the numbers,” Raffensperger said. “The numbers don’t lie.”

And the testimony of Freeman and Moss cries out to Republicans: get out of Trump’s way once and for all. To cling to power, Trump was willing to use threats and lies to destroy the lives of two grassroots citizens dedicated to the most basic work of democracy. Can any Republican in good conscience defend what Trump did?

The January 6 caucus has done Republicans a great service. He has lifted up members of his party who have shown integrity and courage. And he has laid out in lurid detail exactly how egregious Trump’s behavior was.

This is the time for the Republicans to get rid of Trump. I wish I had more confidence that the party would seize the opportunity.


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