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My Turn: Dems remain optimistic about future of democracy

by EVAN KOCH/Guest Opinion
| June 22, 2022 1:00 AM

A recent editorial attributed to Brent Regan, the chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, repeated the Republican Party’s lies and distortions about the 2020 election, the Jan. 6 insurrection, the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, and the Democratic Party.

Those lies and distortions diminish confidence in our elections and in our government. They damage our democracy.

But Democrats remain optimistic.

The House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol can expose the truth and stop the GOP-led damage.

The committee has received evidence, expert opinions and sworn testimony that former President Trump and his closest associates broke the law.

After the courts repeatedly denied Trump’s claims of election fraud, Trump and his supporters assembled fake rival electors in swing states and pressured state officials to recognize them.

Trump and his associates knew this violated the Electoral Count Act.

Nevertheless, they then urged Mike Pence to not certify the election results. When Pence wisely refused, his life was threatened by Capitol Hill rioters.

Trump’s lawyer John Eastman and Representatives Andy Biggs, Scott Perry, and Paul Gosar asked Trump to pardon them for related activities before even being charged. In other words, they acknowledged being caught in an illegal act.

Violating election laws is a serious blow to democracy. But Democrats remain optimistic that the committee will refer matters to the Department of Justice, and that Attorney General Merrick Garland will investigate and prosecute those matters.

Another reason for optimism is the committee is bipartisan. Even though all but two Republican members of Congress refused to participate or tried to game the committee’s investigation, it remains a bipartisan committee thanks to the courage of Representatives Elizabeth Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

Make no mistake, Democrats are not overly confident; our optimism has limits.

We worry that most Republicans still believe the Big Lies that the 2020 election was irregular in some way, and that the Jan. 6 rioters were justified in some way.

We have not forgotten that the Electoral College confirmed two Republican presidents who received only a minority of votes, Donald J. Trump and George W. Bush.

Nor have we forgotten that Republicans tried to rob Idahoans of the right to statewide ballot initiatives and tried to politicize North Idaho College, the boards of education, library boards and the Board of County Commissioners.

And Democrats will never, ever forget the recent KCGOP effort to infiltrate our Central Committee. This dishonest and premeditated scheme revealed immorality at the highest level of the Republican Central Committee.

Nevertheless, Democrats agree with the conservative former Appellate Judge Michael Luttig, who testified to the committee last week.

Judge Luttig said that Trump and his political allies started a war in our country. He called them a “clear and present danger to American democracy.”

But Judge Luttig pointed the way to reconciliation saying a “critical mass of leaders from the former president’s party” can end this war.

Luttig’s words point to the third reason for Democrats’ optimism. Democrats have faith that patriotic Kootenai County citizens, Republicans and Democrats alike, will pay attention to the Jan. 6 committee’s hearings. They will recognize that Trump and his supporters could repeat their criminal behavior in 2024 unless we all transcend party loyalties to stop them now.

Kootenai County citizens must not permit elected officials to lie and to ignore the law.

• • •

Evan Koch is chair of the Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee.

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