By Senator Lena C. Taylor
I’m not sure when I first heard the phrase “When the lawmakers become the lawbreakers,” but it sent a chill down my spine. While not naïve about the failings of man, like most people, I want to believe in public servants. We entrust them to make decisions, policy and laws that are in the best interest of the majority of constituents. When elected, I took the following oath “I, …., swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of …. to the best of my ability. So help me God.”
Placing my right hand on the bible and my left in the air, I felt the weight of those words. The gravity of the trust that had been placed in me, hung heavy in the room. However, I wasn’t overwhelmed. I was excited to get to work, make good on campaign promises, and represent all the residents of my district, to the best of my ability. I think the majority of elected officials come to the job with similar goals.
Yet, anyone watching the U.S. House Committee January 6th Hearings might challenge my views. We have struggled to understand how and why the riot at the nation’s Capital occurred. With confidence, protestors hellbent on stopping the certification of the presidential election, ransacked the halls of the Capital with unnerving familiarity.
Specifically, we learned that Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk led would-be rioters on a tour of House office buildings. As a result, rioters were captured taking pictures of security checkpoints and tunnels twenty-four hours before the attack. It was just the tip of the iceberg, though.
We know that 147 Republican members of Congress voted to decertify or overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Many of them knew that they were being dishonest and that no court in America had substantiated allegations of voter fraud. Donald Trump was not cheated out of the presidency. He was told repeatedly that he lost, fair and square.
Yet, that didn’t stop him from intentionally misleading his supporters and forever casting doubt on our election process. Sadly, the people entrusted to protect the public did the exact opposite.
Like toy soldiers, far too many elected officials have lined up to regurgitate Trump’s lie. Encouraging illegal slates of electors, enacting erroneous voter suppression, and remaining silent as our democracy has been threatened. Our government has worked in part because of the constitution and in part due to an honor system. Nevertheless, we have seen men and women, elected to public office, who have shown little honor. These lawmakers, in the quest to retain power or remain in office, have demonstrated that they are willing to break the law. The reality is that they are breaking American democracy.