Today marks the grim anniversary of rioters storming the United States Capitol to halt the democratic tradition of counting electoral votes and a peaceful transfer of power.
The insurrectionists weren’t successful, but Senate candidate and retired admiral Michael Franken said the Jan. 6 coup attempt marks the death of innocence in America.
“We’ve lost some innocence, we’ve got a stain upon us,” he said. “We now realize that we’re not as strong as we thought we were. So we’ve got to reflect this moment. We shouldn’t glorify in this moment. We should accept what happened and in all such cases, rectify. Which means investigate, prosecute, convict those who are guilty.”
Franken said it’s disappointing that Sen. Chuck Grassley has not been involved in any efforts to pursue those investigations. In fact, Grassley voted against forming a Senate committee to investigate the insurrection.
“He had an opportunity to be a Liz Cheney and [John] McCain, a voice of reason, and he didn’t do that,” Franken said. “I’m just sad that Iowa has that leadership when we could have so much more.”
Franken emphasized this event in America cannot be moved past, especially not as long as people in positions of power, who have been in politics for decades and know more about what happened, fail to press for investigations.
“We need a healing in the country. But you’re not going to get the healing until you fix the atrociousness that has occurred in this country and denounce the Big Lie,” he said.
Not acknowledging what happened last year, and all of the surrounding attempts to have the election results overturned, is only part of the problem.
Since the 2020 election, Republican legislatures across the country—including Iowa’s—have passed laws that restrict the amount of time people have to vote and the places where they can do so.
Franken said this stunt to restrict voting rights is based on a fantasy, and Grassley is ignoring true problems like gun violence and inequality by standing in the way of federal voting right legislation.
“It is pure politics, it is pure shallowness,” Franken said. “This phantom thing of illegal voting, when in fact it’s staring in our face things of much more dire consequence. Like trying to overturn democracy, like pervading violence in society, like promoting big business billionaires over the common person.”
Franken also said we need leaders who will try to close the divisions that currently exist in Congress by electing people who won’t just stick to the party line and obstruct everything. He said we need leaders who will protect voting rights, think of the needs of all Americans and not prey on people’s fears to get their support the way Republicans have.
“Here we are, and we must say that this is not a result of what the Democrats have done. This is not a result of what the Obama Administration grew in the GOP. This is a result of a more near-term execution of what perhaps has been fomenting for some time. That has now caused this big divide,” Franken said.
“Let’s be honest about this, this has been pushed by that inner circle of [Trump] who, at all costs, tried to maintain power, and certainly you’d expect elected leaders, who stand in front of their citizens of the state of Iowa and say, ‘You voted for me to do what’s right. Not to do what the president wants just because he’s the president of the United States.'”
If he were in the Senate, Franken said he would bring principles and a focus on the long-term future of the country. Progress, he said, should be the ultimate goal, and the first steps to get there start at the ballot box.
“We elect people of principle,” Franken said. “We elect people who have ideas to move forward versus try to regress into a 1952-type, sic-the-dogs-and-hate-each-other. We attempt to increase the quality of life and a desire to help those around us better, to give those who need a helping hand a foundational support so that they can reach that first rung of the ladder.”
by Nikoel Hytrek