Electoral College votes shouldn’t be dramatic, but 2020, right?

So it looks like maybe, just maybe, this guy Joe Biden might end up being the next president of the United States. I know you were wondering about it, what with all the lawsuits and official statements (and, of course, tweets – the official communications tool of the Trump White House). I mean, if a guy like Rudy Giuliani is involved, it’s gotta be serious, right?

For the first time in anyone’s memory, though, the voting of Electoral College delegates in many state capitals today was dramatic, tense, and even a bit scary. In Lansing, Michigan’s Capitol Building was closed to the public because the state’s sixteen presidential electors were meeting to cast their votes and there had been threats of violence against them that the Republican leadership of the House and Senate felt were credible.

My state representative, Gary Eisen (R-St. Clair Twp.), went on the Paul Miller Show on WPHM in Port Huron this morning and suggested that there could be something “dangerous” happening at the State Capitol today. When asked if he could guarantee that everyone would be safe in Lansing today, Rep. Eisen refused to say yes. Instead, he was going to participate in an event later in the day that would be “all over the news later on.”

From the New York Times, December 14, 2020 (nytimes.com)

As a result, the GOP leadership in the Michigan Legislature stripped Eisen of all of his committee assignments for the remainder of this term, which ends in two weeks. It’s unclear whether he’ll be able to return to any committees in the new year; Eisen was re-elected last month (despite all of the alleged fraud and shenanigans, apparently his election was completely on the “up and up”) to another two-year term with 61 percent of the vote in our solidly-conservative district.

Every human interaction has the potential for violence. Starting as children, we learn that we can’t always have our way and that there is a difference between winning and losing, and that threatening violence is not a civilized way of getting what you want. Most of us accept this, internalize it, and we’re seldom provoked to the point of potential violence. Individually, that type of behavior is only seen in severely anti-social personalities. However, when people in positions of leadership start behaving that way, it becomes more acceptable, and a mob is capable of practically anything at that point.

The Republican leadership in Lansing did the right thing in swiftly condemning Eisen’s statements and demonstrating that they took their oaths to defend the U.S. and Michigan constitutions seriously. While I disagree with them on many issues, current Michigan House speaker Lee Chatfield and his successor, Jason Wentworth, absolutely did the right thing, and I commend them.

If we’re unable to move on and restore some semblance of unity, we’re going to have bigger problems than the pandemic gave us next year.