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Letter: Lies can lead to terrible consequences

I thank Robert Weiser for his letter to the editor of March 17. Although, like me, he is not an elected party official, he writes he is an active member of the Republican Party, and he thinks that Joe Biden is the lawful president and by extension that the election was legitimate in his eyes.  I have not yet seen or heard this from any representative of the local Republican Party unit, yet I remain hopeful that they will do so.

Why am I so persistent on this issue? Because words matter and lies can lead to terrible consequences. Former President Trump lied for months that the 2020 election had been stolen from him.  On Jan. 6, he asked his supporters to come to Washington to a rally. At that rally he asked them to march to the Capitol to stop the members of Congress from doing their Constitutional duty of certifying the electoral college vote. The mob listened to their president, their leader and stormed the Capitol. Recently, the FBI released new footage of the attack in which we see members of the mob violently assaulting the Capitol police with batons, baseball bats, flags and chemical sprays. Why did his supporters do this? They believed the big lie, that the election was stolen, even though Biden won by more than seven million votes and by a large margin in the Electoral College. To be clear, this attack was on our voting system and on democracy itself. All of our representatives were in danger, had to be taken to safety, and for a few hours, democracy was halted. Leaders of his party, for the most part, did not call Mr. Trump on his lies until it was too late, and the violent insurrection was the result. 

To prevent similar attacks, Mr. Trump’s supporters need to hear the truth and they need to hear it from local leaders as well as national leaders (Sens. Romney and McConnell have done so).

One last point. Republicans now want to use this same lie of a rigged election to push for measures to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Experts and officials from all 50 states have said that the 2020 election was the most examined and cleanest election ever held in this country. Yet Republicans are again pushing to make it harder to vote.  Why? Do they fear that they can’t win if everyone votes?  We Democrats believe that voting should be easy, no one should stand in line for hours, and no eligible voter should be denied the ability to vote. People, Black and white, have died defending the right of citizens to vote (Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and Viola Liuzzo among them). Did they die in vain? To quote a young Capitol police officer after the attack on Jan. 6, “Is this still America?”

Ted Hinnenkamp

Albert Lea