Even after our nation’s Capitol building was ransacked by mobs trying to overturn our election — even after members of Congress had to be protected by police with guns drawn on the floor of their chambers — two Wisconsin congressmen still voted against certification of the American people’s choice for president.
U.S. Reps. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, shamefully tried to block Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s votes from being counted during the final tally of states supporting President-elect Joe Biden for the White House.
These two antagonists of democracy even said they would have voted to disenfranchise Wisconsin voters from the final count if given the chance Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
Fitzgerald and Tiffany don’t deserve their offices and should resign. Their endless embrace of wannabe strongman Donald Trump and his fantastical lies about massive voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election is unforgiveable.
The same goes for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who was one of Trump’s ringleaders in the plot to reject the will of the people. Early Thursday — after rioters had finally been cleared from the Capitol, with five people dead or mortally wounded — Johnson changed his mind and voted to certify Biden’s clear win. But that was too little, too late for this conspiracy theorist who repeatedly and blatantly misled the public about the truth for months.
Johnson more than anyone else from Wisconsin helped lead America to the dark day when violence and tumult stalled our democracy and threatened to send it into a “death spiral,” in the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Even after McConnell, the GOP Senate leader and longtime Trump apologist, finally abandoned the president’s ravings about election fraud, Johnson continued to lie to his Wisconsin constituents on Trump’s behalf.
This cannot be forgiven. Nor can the American carnage wrought by Trump and his minions, with Johnson, Tiffany and Fitzgerald dutifully standing by his side to the ugly end.
Our calls for their resignations are unlikely to sway these sorry excuses for statesmen. If they’re willing to throw Wisconsin’s votes aside to coronate Trump, they’re no doubt willing to do just about anything to protect their power and save their cushy seats.
That means Wisconsin’s political parties must act. They should start today to find and recruit the strongest and best candidates to defeat Johnson, Tiffany and Fitzgerald in next year’s elections.
Johnson is sure to face fierce competition if he breaks his pledge not to run for a third term. And that appears likely, given his ceaseless pandering to Trump’s riled base of support. Outagamie County Executive and Democrat Tom Nelson, a former state Assembly majority leader, announced his challenge to Johnson last fall. Other possible Democratic challengers include Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry, and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. (U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth, recently announced he won’t seek the job.)
Republicans are reportedly waiting to see what Johnson decides. Instead, they should jump in now, putting Johnson on notice that his servitude to a failed and dangerous president is over. A real conservative with a conscience and respect for democratic values should step up and force a primary challenge if Johnson doesn’t leave on his own.
The endless chaos of the Trump administration has been enabled by many in the weary and now disgraced Republican Party after four years of democratic norms being shattered. Very soon, the GOP’s impulsive and incompetent president will finally be gone from public office.
Johnson, Fitzgerald and Tiffany should be, too.