To the Editor:
On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Vineyard activists woke up to the welcome news that the Rev. Raphael Warnock had won his special election, and was now a U.S. senator-elect from Georgia. Warnock has a close relationship with the Vineyard. He has preached at the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury, where his longtime friend and former classmate, the Rev. Cathlin Baker, is the pastor; she has reciprocated at his church, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta. This past summer, many of us attended a Zoom fundraiser for Warnock, and many more of us have made phone calls, texted, written postcards, and donated to support his campaign.
Later that morning, the news got even better: Jon Ossoff had won his race to unseat U.S. Senator David Perdue. We’d contributed to Ossoff’s campaign too. The almost unimaginable had happened: Both Georgia seats had flipped, the Senate now had a Democratic majority, and though that majority was as slim as could be, it meant that Mitch McConnell could no longer block COVID relief and many other bills from reaching the Senate floor.
Then the day turned very dark. For two months, President Trump had been claiming that he won the presidential election. Despite dozens of defeats in multiple courts, he continued to claim that the Biden-Harris victory was the result of fraud. He encouraged his supporters to come to D.C. and block Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote, in which Biden-Harris defeated Trump-Pence, 306–232.
This certification is usually ceremonial. Not this year. This year a majority of Republican representatives and about a dozen Republican senators claimed, against all evidence, that the election results in several key states should be overturned.
And after a rally at the Ellipse where President Trump urged the crowd to go to the Capitol and undo the results of the election, enough of the crowd did exactly that. You’ve seen the images and videos. You’ve read the first-person accounts. You’re as horrified as we are.
We don’t believe that this attack on our election process, this invasion of the Capitol, came out of nowhere. We’ve been listening to President Trump’s rhetoric these past four years. We’ve been hearing the deafening silence of Republican officeholders.
Although only a few days remain before the current president leaves office, we believe that he should be impeached. We want the legislators in both houses of Congress to go on record disavowing (or not) the events of Jan. 6. Of those who want us to just move on, we ask: If a president should not be impeached for attacking the legitimate results of an election, and encouraging a violent assault on the Capitol, what exactly constitutes an “impeachable offense”?
Healing is necessary, no question about that: healing both from the raging pandemic, and from the intolerance and voter disenfranchisement that stems from another kind of virus. But it cannot be a healing that ignores or minimizes what has happened. It must be a healing that squarely confronts our disease and the complex, interrelated causes of it.
We hope that all Vineyarders, each in his or her own way, will join us in this monumental and necessary task.
Steve Power, chair
Nicola Blake, vice chair
Susanna J. Sturgis, secretary
Carla Cooper, treasurer
Holly MacKenzie, past president
Democratic Council of Martha’s Vineyard