By Emily Sinsky and Zachary Searight
If Rep. Darrell Issa is going to uphold his oath to serve the people of the 50th District, he must stop abetting the destruction of our democracy.
An elected representative cannot condemn the violence of groups such as the insurrectionists at the Capitol or Defend East County and at the same time cast a vote in support of their effort to overturn the election results. By voting against the election results certification, Issa essentially attempted to finish the job started by those who stormed the Capitol just hours after he and other Congress members were forced into protective custody before they were able to cast their votes.
In the past, election results have never been partisan. Before this insurgency, it was possible to agree with Trump politically, align oneself with the policies he aligns with, and openly run as a “Trump Conservative,” as Issa did, without abandoning one’s commitment to the democratic process. Those days are over.
Election results are not a question of immigration reform, fiscal policy, or how to face the COVID-19 pandemic. Representative Issa and the Republican Party are not attacking a specific policy or political belief; they are attacking thought, information, and evidence. We need to argue based on a shared set of facts we can use to prescribe policy that makes our country stronger and preserves our shared democratic values.
Democracy can be an ugly process. There were duels between members of Congress in the founding decades of our country. Cabinet members have always slammed each other in the press. Even still, our institutions have remained intact. Disagreement and compromise are integral parts of the democratic process. Fostering hate speech, inciting violence, and disenfranchising only the voters who disagree with you is not.
We must separate truth from ideology. Supporting the democratic process is not about who is right but about the fact that we can disagree, debate, and cast votes in the first place. We have to examine white supremacy and the laws that support it as a pervasive tactic that must be eradicated if we hope to continue with the democratic process in the United States, instead of treating it as just a difference of opinion.
It’s not enough to admit the obvious: that the people elected Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a free and fair election. He won 306 electoral votes, and will lawfully be sworn into office on Wednesday.
Issa and his Republican colleagues must reject the flow of conspiracy theories into mainstream politics — ideas that, yes, benefit them politically. This “us vs. them” complex mainlining Republican politics obliterates the truth, makes governing more difficult, and ultimately kills Americans — as we witnessed during the violent assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The seditious behavior exhibited by Issa is a symptom of the larger issue of allowing politicians to grow more powerful than the democratic framework that elects them. Young people learn from leaders like Issa that it’s acceptable to align oneself with anti-democratic groups when it benefits their party, rather than engaging in healthy policy discussion and holding free, fair, and frequent elections.
Issa, as with the other elected officials turned seditionists, now faces a choice: to retract support for President Trump and tangibly show support for democracy or come to terms with the fact that he is inciting violence and is a threat to our shared values. If Issa finds himself unable to represent his constituents’ voices and fulfill the oath he took as he was sworn in earlier this month, he should resign his elected position.
As young people in California’s 50th District, it is our responsibility to hold Issa responsible for his seditious and self-serving behavior.
Emily Sinsky is the policy director and Zachary Searight the secretary of the East County Young Democrats. They wrote this op-ed on behalf of the organization’s executive board.