Durbin: Republican Party Leaders Are Normalizing The Use Of Violence To Achieve Political Goals

Following the RNC declaration that January 6th was “legitimate political discourse,” Durbin slams the Republican Party for allowing the Big Lie to intimidate voters, calls on colleagues to come together across party lines to defend democracy

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called out the Republican Party for its blatant disregard of American democracy days after the Republican National Committee declared the deadly January 6th insurrection a form of “legitimate political discourse.” In his speech, Durbin went on to describe how the Big Lie has inspired Donald Trump’s supporters to commit violent acts – or make threats of violence against public officials. The Brennan Center published a report finding that nearly one in five election officials in America had received death threats because of their role in the 2020 election.

“The violence that we personally witnessed in this Chamber on January 6th, 2021, was deadly, seditious, and un-American, far from legitimate,” said Durbin. “Is that what we call the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812? Was it legitimate political discourse when the violent mob beat police officers with metal poles and assaulted them with bear spray? Was it political discourse that contributed to the death of five police officers who confronted that mob? Was it just merely political discourse when a defeated, embittered former President incited that mob to attack this Capitol building and do its best to overturn the results of a free election which he lost? No, it was an incitement to violence and an attack on our democracy. Let’s be clear: The Republican Party’s white-washing of the insurrection isn’t just a capitulation to Donald Trump and his Big Lie.”

Durbin warned that by legitimizing the insurrection, Republican Party leaders are normalizing the use of violence to achieve political goals. He went on to outline recent death threats against election officials, including a Texas man whom the Department of Justice recently charged with calling for the murder of three election officials in Georgia. Due to growing threats of political violence across the country, the Department of Justice has established the Election Threats Task Force. The task force is already investigating dozens of cases.

Durbin continued, “Since the 2020 election, the former President and his supporters have latched on to the Big Lie to discredit American democracy and the decision of American voters, and to go after those who work in it, like election voters. But, this not the first time a malicious lie has been used to foment distrust, disdain, and even hatred for America’s public servants. It was 72 years ago this week that Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy delivered his infamous ‘Enemies from Within’ speech in Wheeling, West Virginia. In that speech, Senator McCarthy pulled a sheet of paper out of his pocket, held it up to the crowd, and claimed that he had a list of more than 50 names of communist agents who had infiltrated our government. These scurrilous accusations by Senator McCarthy made headlines—and provoked nationwide hysteria. Rumors abounded about card-carrying communists working in our government. Over the next four years, Senator McCarthy led a personal witch hunt against public servants, journalists, members of the military, and average citizens. He destroyed many lives in the process. But he never revealed his list of 57 names—or any credible evidence for his claims.”

During the McCarthy-era, Republicans and Democrats came together to condemn Senator McCarthy and the lies that fueled his witch hunt. Like Congress did in 1954, when lawmakers came together to denounce McCarthyism, Durbin called on his Republican colleagues to reject the Big Lie and stand up for democracy, and he commended Republican lawmakers who have been willing to speak the truth. Over the weekend, Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke out against the RNC’s decision to censure Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).

Durbin concluded, “At a moment when too many Republican Party leaders are legitimizing the January 6 insurrection—and Republican state legislators are erecting barriers to the ballot box—we must have the courage to restore the Voting Rights Act. And we need to come together, across party lines, to defend our democracy. To condemn violence. And to live by the rule of law—not the rule of the mob.”

For the past several months, Durbin has partnered with Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to develop a proposal to modernize the Electoral Count Act—an obscure law that was at the heart of former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. By updating the Electoral Count Act, Congress can clarify that the vice president does not have the power to reject a state’s lawfully appointed electors and overturn the results of an election.

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.