By David Loomis
INDIANA – As an insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, incited by a lawless law-and-order president, you might wonder: How have lawmakers elected by the people of Indiana County, Pa., been representing them lately?
Here’s an Indiana County roll call:
State Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana
On Jan. 5, Mr. Pittman voted on a straight party line against seating a victorious incumbent state senator – a Democrat — on grounds that the incumbent’s narrow victory margin was in doubt. The claim may sound familiar. But, no, it wasn’t in doubt. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court – the oldest appellate court in the country – ruled in the incumbent’s favor, and his victory was certified by the state.
State Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana
On Dec. 7, Mr. Struzzi said his signature on a Dec. 4 letter from more than 60 state lawmakers to the commonwealth’s congressional delegation, urging them to overturn Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden, was a “clerical error.” After his signature was removed, he added, however: “I do support continuing any lawsuits and court actions to assure that all legal votes were counted accurately.”
The difference? Semantic. He wants it both ways.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-15th Congressional District (including Indiana County)
The six-term incumbent Trump loyalist is among eight GOP members of Pennsylvania’s nine-member congressional delegation who pledged to vote Wednesday to block the certification of Joe Biden’s win in his native state and to invalidate the 20 electoral votes that made him president-elect. The vote was delayed by a procedural issue: The mob Thompson helped incite stormed the House chamber.
If the vote proceeds this evening and Mr. Thompson votes as he pledged, it will be interesting to hear him explain how the outcome of his own election, in which his name appeared on the same ballot as the president’s, somehow avoided the same taint.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
Days after the election, Casey said Trump’s fact-free claims of fraud in Pennsylvania’s balloting benefited Russian president Vladimir Putin.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
The top elected Republican in Pennsylvania, Toomey received the Dec. 4 letter from state GOP lawmakers. In response, he rebuked the president for baiting the legislators into writing the letter to subvert the will of the voters – including the voters who elected those same state lawmakers.
On Jan. 2, Toomey tweeted: “A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Sens. Hawley, Cruz and others to overturn the results of the 2020 election in presidential election swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right.”
FOUNDING FATHER and newspaperman Benjamin Franklin reportedly told citizens gathered outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that they have a republic – “if you can keep it.”
Less well known is another Franklin post-convention quote: “The first man put at the helm will be a good one,” he said, an endorsement of George Washington. “Nobody knows what sort may come afterwards.”
Two hundred and thirty-three years later, we know again what sort the next president — and vice president — is. But today we have reason to wonder whether some of our lawmakers can keep our democratic republic.
David Loomis, Ph.D., emeritus professor of journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is editor of The HawkEye.
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