"Words matter, and ... the power of life and death is in the tongue."
Those were the words of U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black Thursday, Jan. 7, the day after a deadly mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. So far five people have died as a result of the riot, including a police officer.
People will remember how they felt that day as they watched violent protesters inflamed by the president's reckless lies smash down the doors to America's seat of democracy. But we must also remember the hard lessons learned from this tragedy. Words have consequences. Politicians must be willing to tell supporters the truth, even when it is inconvenient to their own aspirations.
Supporters of the president, including lawmakers, have not all been willing to tell the truth, and it has led to threats and violence and death. You don't have to be a liberal to acknowledge that, as many conservatives have shown:
“We witnessed ... the damage that can result when men in power and responsibility refuse to acknowledge the truth. We saw bloodshed because a demagogue chose to spread falsehoods and sow distrust of his own fellow Americans. Let’s not abet such deception.”
— Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania
“Nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale … that would have tipped the entire election. Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.”
— Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky
“The United States Capitol — the world’s greatest symbol of self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his vice president for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution. Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”
— Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska
“We gather ... due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of his supporters whom he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here ... was an insurrection, incited by the president of the United States."
— Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah
"Telling people an election was stolen is crossing a line, because it’s just not where the facts land. And we have a duty to be honest with the American public."
— Alyssa Farah, former Trump White House communications director
“Voting to overturn the state-certified elections would be the opposite of what states’ rights Republicans have always advocated for.”
— Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky
“It’s past time for the president to accept the results of the election, quit misleading the American people, and repudiate mob violence.”
— Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas
“What happened on Capitol Hill ... is a direct result of his poisoning the minds of people with the lies and the frauds.”
— Gen. John Kelly, former Trump White House chief of staff
“It’s been 245 years and no president has ever failed to concede or agree to leave office after the Electoral College has voted, and I think what we are seeing ... is the result of that.”
— Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming
“We’ve got to rebuild our nation, and we’ve got to rebuild our party. This is not who we are. It’s extremely distressing.”
— Rep. Nancy Mace, R-South Carolina
No, condemnation of lies and misinformation is not a liberal talking point.
It's not too late for Republicans to reverse course and return to the principles of Lincoln and the Constitution. Principles such as the importance of a peaceful transfer of power. But it will require accepting difficult truths. Start by joining many other conservatives in accepting the lawful election results.