Mangino: The cowards of Capitol Hill
Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe referred, in a recent tweet, to a group of GOP senators who intended to object to the certification of the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the “Treacherous Eleven.”
After the capitol was overrun by insurrectionists, fomented by the President of the United States, only six senators continued their cowardly kowtowing to the lead insurrectionist — Donald Trump. The “Seditious Six,” led by Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Howley of Missouri also included Roger Marshall (KS), John Kennedy (LA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS) and Tommy Tuberville (AL).
Sedition is a federal crime — “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
The sole purpose of the Electoral College objection was to win favor with a disgraced lame duck president — a man who only days earlier berated, cajoled and threatened the Georgia Secretary of State in an effort to find 11,780 votes to overturn the state’s election results. The same defeated “wannabe-tyrant” who Jan. 6, 2021, directed a raucous group of Trumpsters to march on the capitol building.
These six senators are anything but profiles in courage. They challenged the results of the presidential election without any legitimate basis and without any possibility of success. The “Seditious Six” cowered in the face of unrelenting pressure from the president and his delusional supporters.
On Dec. 18, 1963, only weeks after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, his brother Robert wrote a new forward to Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Profiles in Courage.” The first line of the forward is “Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired.”
In 1956, as a Senator from Massachusetts, Kennedy wrote “Profiles in Courage.” Kennedy told the story of eight senators who acted on principle and national interest even though it put their own political careers at risk. As Robert Kennedy wrote in his forward, “It is a study of men who, at risk to themselves, their futures, even the well-being of their children, stood fast for principle.”
Kennedy wrote about Sen. Daniel Webster of Massachusetts. Webster was opposed to slavery. He saw the Compromise of 1850 as a way of averting national discord, preserving national unity and preventing the south from seceding. His vote placed him at odds with his anti-slavery supporters and his party, and ended any chance of Webster being president. He said following his vote, “No man can suffer too much, and no man can fall too soon, if he suffers or if he fall in defense of the liberties and Constitution of his country.”
Another profile in courage was Sen. Edmund G. Ross. The newly elected Republican senator from Kansas, who followed his conscience - in defiance of his party - and cast the deciding vote against the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. After being pressured by constituents to vote for Johnson’s removal he wrote, “I have taken an oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, and trust that I shall have the courage to vote according to the dictates of my judgment and for the highest good of the country.” The voters of Kansas did not return Ross to the senate.
Kennedy examined the career of Sen. George Norris of Nebraska who split with his party and constituency on the issue of the presidency. Norris was a “dry,” Protestant, Midwestern-Republican. In 1928, he supported Al Smith, a big-city Democrat who happened to be Catholic and against Prohibition. He said at the time, “shall we be so partisan that we will place our party above our country.”
The siege of Jan. 6, 2021, could have been avoided if the Seditious Six would have put country before party; duty before ambition; truth before fiction. This country cannot, and should not, forget the Seditious Six.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. You can reach him at www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.