As chair of the Democratic Party in Polk County, my position on the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol is and has been clear and unequivocal. It was an insurrection organized, encouraged and fomented by President Donald J. Trump.
This insurrection was occasioned by his lie that the election on Nov. 3 was stolen from him. Whether it is called it a riot or an insurrection, the purpose was the same, subversion of a free and fair national U.S. presidential election.
Trump lost the election by more than 7 million popular votes, and 74 electoral votes (306 to 232). And though a margin of just 44,000 votes in a few states propelled Joe Biden to victory, the results were confirmed repeatedly by honest, responsible leaders in the Republican Party.
On Jan. 6, Trump called his followers to Washington, whipped them into a frenzy and sent some of them marching to our Capitol with instructions to “take back” the White House. Upon arrival at the Capitol building, they called for the lynching of Republican Vice President Pence because he would not illegally nullify the results of the election. A mob then breached the security of the U.S. Capitol, violently entered the building, and went on a frenzy looking to harm both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Events of Jan. 6 were unprecedented and significant because they represent a shot to heart of our democratic institutions. Without the ability to have free and fair elections and to have a peaceful transfer of power, we do not have a democracy. The current Republican party has a serious and continuing problem — Donald Trump.
Having made a pact with the devil, many Republicans are attempting to retain their voter base. Political expediency, not patriotism, is the order of the day in the Republican Party. Additionally, efforts to control elections extend to numerous states, including Florida and Texas, where Republican legislatures are enacting harsh voter suppression bills aimed at maintaining power.
Upcoming redistricting processes will be used to further limit the Democratic Party’s ability to compete for national congressional seats and in state and local elections. Without a functional multi-party system, we essentially become an autocracy where we, the people, are at the mercy and whims of a handful of powerful individuals and corporations.
The Democratic Party in Polk County is identifying tyranny, calling it out and standing against it. Daily manifestations of Republican-led tyranny are coming in the form of attacks by Gov. Ron DeSantis on public health officials that bear messages that do not match his COVID-19 narrative; random and vicious attacks on responsible, honest members of the press; lack of willingness to extend health insurance coverage to our working population; poor management of unemployment benefits and federal rental assistance funds; escalating substitution of for-profit companies for public schools; disempowerment of local government and its ability to protect communities from scourges such as out of control land development, environmental degradation and gun violence; and use of race-baiting to motivate right wing voters. The list is long and growing.
Good community leaders are reluctant to step forward for office because the amount of corporate campaign money that is thrown against them in elections is obscene. A disproportional cost of tyrannical leadership is being borne by working people that are trying to raise families in this state. It bears repeating that quality of life in Florida will deteriorate for all if we do not support our working families.
We are living through historically difficult times. This letter is a public challenge and clarion call to our community. Let’s work together to elect people who will work for all of us, not just the well-off people at the top of the GOP donor list.
Catherine Price is chair of the Polk County Democratic Party.