Forget, if you can, that the votes took place just hours after an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Capitol by angry, violent conspiracy theorists urged on by President Donald Trump.
Forget, for a minute, that it might not mean anything in the short term.
When Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller, both R-W.Va., joined more than 140 GOP colleagues in Congress in objecting to Electoral College votes in certain states, they were subverting democracy. They aren’t the first to have done something like this. Indeed, Democrats have done it, too, although not in the numbers Republican members of the House did this week, nor in a climate nearly as tense.
When Mooney, Miller and others voted against impeaching President Donald Trump in 2019, they used the cut-and-paste argument that impeachment was an effort to “overturn an election.” What, then, exactly, were Mooney and Miller doing Wednesday night? Because that looks a lot like directly trying to overturn an election.
If the hypocrisy on display doesn’t get you, then go back and put it in the context of what happened on Wednesday. Rioters were urged on by the repeated lies of the president, his son and his attorney that the election had been rigged or stolen. They don’t have and never had any clear argument, let alone evidence, to back any of this up, but they were angry.
They had the platform to channel that anger and an audience conditioned to respond. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, are now dead as a result. One of the most visible symbols of American democracy was under a literal siege.
Miller and Mooney are complicit in the chaos, to some degree. They gladly bought in on the president’s falsehoods and helped spread them over the years. Miller protested impeachment hearings as being a secret, sealed-off Democratic Party power grab, when she knew perfectly well she was on a committee that allowed her to attend the hearings. Mooney stormed those same hearings, and posted social media missives throughout the process, falsely claiming he was exposing some sort of coup. Although not as actively involved in what happened this week as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., or Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., they helped pave the road that led to it.
Then, when the monster they assisted in creating turned on them, and some in Congress were wise enough to see the horrible error they had made, Mooney and Miller went back into the recently desecrated House of Representatives and still voted to object in certifying Joe Biden as the country’s next president.
Some believe that President Trump has blood on his hands, and they’ve got a strong argument. Even with relatively few days left in office, he’s been judged by some as so dangerous that he might be impeached again. West Virginia’s other member of the U.S. House, Republican David McKinley, says he won’t vote for impeachment. Whatever anyone thinks of that, at least McKinley didn’t object to certifying the Electoral College, nor did he sign onto bogus lawsuits seeking to invalidate the presidential election in some states, as Mooney, Miller and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey did.
Keep in mind, there were more than a few West Virginians in the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. One of them, state Delegate Derrick Evans, has been arrested on federal charges. More arrests seem likely. The supportive rhetoric or tacit approval of Trump’s behavior on the part of those like Mooney, Miller and Morrisey might not have incited those West Virginians, but it certainly didn’t do anything to discourage them, either.
Mooney and Miller need to seriously reevaluate their actions, up to and including Wednesday’s vote. What they did was wrong. Perhaps they owe the people of West Virginia and the United States an apology, if nothing else.