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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A year ago today, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, bludgeoning police officers and chasing lawmakers into hiding in an attempt to stop certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory, it seemed real American carnage might jolt our politics back toward sanity.
For a brief moment there was a glimmer of hope.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who was presiding over the Senate when barbarians crashed the gates, condemned the attack in strong terms. He called it “an attack on democracy itself.” He called Donald Trump’s incendiary speech earlier in the day that prompted protesters to move on the Capitol “extreme, aggressive and irresponsible.”
My congresswoman, U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, who voted to certify the election results, also condemned the attack and was a co-sponsor of a bill calling for a bipartisan inquiry into the what happened. She thanked Capitol police for “keeping us safe.”
But it was all fool’s gold. It was Gov. Kim Reynolds who revealed where we were actually headed.
“You know what we need to do is stop pointing fingers, and we need to move forward,” Reynolds said the day after the attack. In December 2020, Reynolds expressed regret Iowa didn’t join a lawsuit spearheaded by Texas to block electoral votes from four states in service to Trump’s big lie that the presidential election had been stolen. It was the lie that pushed the mob into the Capitol.
Move on, nothing to see here.
Instead, Reynolds doubled down on fantasies of election fraud, saying on Jan. 7, “…there are a lot of questions out there.”
In May, Hinson voted against a bill creating a bipartisan committee to investigate the attack that was very similar to one she co-sponsored earlier. She weakly argued a committee might interfere with ongoing prosecutions, but she might be in favor of forming one later. Hinson said she still wanted to “get to the bottom” of what happened on Jan. 6. In June, Hinson said a congressional inquiry is unnecessary.
Grassley and Sen. Joni Ernst also voted to block a Senate vote on forming a committee.
Iowa’s Republican Legislature passed a new package of voting restrictions, including limits on absentee voting and criminal penalties for election officials. Iowa’s high-turnout, largely flawless 2020 election didn’t seem to matter. Catering to big lie believers in the Trump GOP mattered more.
During debate, state Sen. Jim Carlin said “most of” the members of his GOP caucus believe the election was “stolen.” Carlin is running from the far-right against Grassley in the June primary.
In October, top Iowa Republicans lined up to speak at a Trump rally in Des Moines. Grassley received Trump’s endorsement, which he accepted citing polling showing Trump’s massive support among Iowa Republicans. No way our senator will allow himself to be out-Trumped. They all stood by while Trump took the stage and repeated his “rigged” election lies.
“First of all, (Biden) didn’t get elected, OK? Forget that,” Trump said. “Hillary conceded. I never conceded.” Later, the large crowd chanted “Trump won!”
So they looked at what happened on Jan. 6, and then they looked at the polls. Our so-called GOP leaders decided their political ambitions trumped the survival of democracy and the will of the people. These profiles in courage want us to forget what happened.
And because of them and others, Jan. 6 never really ended. An authoritarian GOP drive to snatch the 2024 election by any means necessary and undermine public confidence in our electoral process rolls on. It is truly “an attack on democracy itself,” and Iowa Republicans are complicit.
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