Rep. Mike Garcia’s justification for voting against certifying the 2020 presidential election, issued shortly before the riot at the Capitol, is a disgraceful betrayal of his oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.
In a three-page explanation to constituents, our representative makes the following case: Last November there were enough unconstitutional processes in several states to warrant a forensic audit of the vote. This must, he argues, take place before the Electoral College can be certified. Congress has a duty to “slow down and examine exactly what happened. We must have assurances of election security, and in the end, we may see there was no fraud or at least not enough fraud to affect the outcome. This is also good to know. Right now, we know nothing.”
While he does not say outright that the election should be overturned, Garcia’s logic clearly supports the idea that may be necessary.
Consider a thought experiment: Say the results of the proposed audit indicate that, indeed, Republicans were right. The Constitution was violated so wantonly by various states that the election was stolen from the GOP.
The inevitable next step would be for Garcia to use all of his power to ensure Trump was awarded a second term. It would be nonsensical for the congressman to go through this whole process, only to at the very end vote to certify Biden’s victory after it was proven “fraudulent.”
This is all scary stuff. Remember, at the moment that public statement was written, our democracy was facing an unprecedented threat. The election had already been declared constitutional by federal courts. Ever still, in a last desperate gambit, Donald Trump called on Congress to “Stop the Steal,” reject the Electoral College and unlawfully award him a second term.
This was a breathtaking request, the kind of thing we would expect from Communist China or the Soviet Union. It is hard to think of an act that is more antithetical to our system of government.
Congressman Garcia’s duty was clear: It was incumbent on him to unequivocally condemn Trump and uphold his responsibility to protect our democracy. There was no compelling reason not to certify the election. The president, a highly charismatic and persuasive figure, was sending a dangerous message to his millions of followers that needed to be rebutted forcefully.
But instead, faced with a moral crisis, Mr. Garcia chose the path of greatest cowardice. Within his public statement, no word of condemnation is offered against Trump. Furthermore, his theory that it is acceptable for a member of Congress to reject an election that’s been validated by the courts as constitutional is breathtaking.
He is effectively rewriting our system of government and placing his own interpretation of the law over that of the judiciary.
If such a precedent were to ever take root, our democracy would be over. What would stop any future Congress from opposing the results of elections they disprove of? The implications of such a slippery slope are frightening to contemplate.
It is all too similar to the Jim Crow South’s reaction to the Brown V. Board of education ruling. In the 1950s, a large contingent of southern senators, governors, and other officials declared they would refuse to follow the Warren court’s judgement that school segregation was unconstitutional, since, according to their reading of the law, that decision was incorrect. President Dwight Eisenhower correctly recognized the potential for anarchy in such nonsense, and went so far as to mobilize the U.S Army to enforce Brown when necessary.
In this current moment, Mr. Garcia and his colleagues took a step that is arguably even more damaging to our country than the actions of those long-gone racists. For while the South was rebelling against a matter of policy, the GOP sought to interfere with the most fundamental question in our nation: Who gets to become president of the United States?
Garcia has always styled himself as a man of great courage. And it is most certainly true that when it comes to physical bravery, he is quite extraordinary, having accumulated many years of military service as a Navy fighter pilot.
Yet public office requires something different than the skills of the soldier in battle. Our leaders must summon courage of a moral kind, the ability to stand for great principles and noble ideals, to buck the prevailing consensus of their party and tell the truth.
The events of recent months, perhaps more than any other crisis in recent memory, demanded this depth of soul. An authoritarian president was telling his supporters a big lie: Their country was being stolen from them in a rigged election and they must do what was necessary to stop it.
Garcia, instead of standing up against this wicked scheme, aided and abetted it. A brave fighter in war, he has shown himself to be a conniving politician. By refusing to certify the Electoral College and casting doubt on whether Joe Biden actually won, he helped light the fuse that ultimately led to the explosion of violence at the capitol.
As the mob stormed into the people’s house, wielding crowbars and batons against our heroes in law enforcement, the Republicans responsible for it all, Garcia included, sat in guarded rooms, safe from the consequences of their actions.
It will fall upon the voters of the 25th District to right this injustice, and ensure our congressman doesn’t get away scot free, by sending him into retirement at the next election.
Joshua Heath is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays, and rotates among local Democrats. The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.