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Letter: It takes moral courage to run a Republic

After the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Ben Franklin was famously asked what kind of government our fledgling new nation would have and his reply was remarkably prescient. “You have a Republic,” he said, “if you can keep it.”

A couple of centuries later, at around noon Jan. 6, 2021, his dire warning almost came to pass when Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson’s Chief of Staff Sean Riley sent a seemingly innocuous text to Vice President Pence’s aide as the vice president made his way through the Capitol to certify the 2020 election results. Sen. Johnson, the text said, needed to “hand something” to the vice president. “What is it?” Pence’s aide inquired. “Alternate slate of electors for Michigan and Wisconsin,” Riley replied.

Almost casually, the senator from Wisconsin and his chief of staff brazenly attempted to throw out the votes of more than 8 million Americans and right along with them the foundations of the Republic.

All of this following more than 60 failed lawsuits filed by one of the president’s now discredited attorneys based on unsubstantiated and generally hysterical claims of election fraud. “We’ve got lots of theories,” Rudy Giuliani would later tell Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, “we just don’t have the evidence.”

All of which must have been remarkably frustrating for the former mayor. Ironically, it turns out that he was right about the fraud, he was just wrong about the one who instigated it. Or, maybe he knew the truth and just didn’t find it convenient.

If he had any doubts, though, all he needed to do was ask Chris Krebs, former President Trump’s own Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) chief who bravely called the 2020 election the most secure election in American history.

Of course, speaking that particular truth to power ultimately cost him his job, but that is precisely the kind of moral courage a healthy Republic requires. If we truly want to keep our Republic then, the senator from Wisconsin and anyone who aided and abetted his apparent crime must be held to account. The timeless wisdom of Ben Franklin and the sacrifice of our Founding Fathers demands nothing less. 

Mark Hurst, Pulaski

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