the resistance and me
October 1, 2021: Do Not Be Fooled
July 23, 2021: “If we don't have the vote, we don't have democracy.” – Part II
July 17, 2021: “If we don't have the vote, we don't have democracy.” – Part I
June 18, 2021: Robin Long Explains the Conservative Attack on our Local Elections
May 16, 2021: Smithtown BOE Election in the News
May 6, 2021: Race, Police, Education and Lies - The New Right-Wing Culture War
April 16, 2021: Governor Zeldin?
March 12, 2021: Lessons from a Vaccine Appointment Volunteer
February 17, 2021: Grania Brolin- One of a Kind
January 21, 2021: Mike Anthony - True Blue Democrat
January 14, 2021: Complicity
One way or another, Donald Trump will face a reckoning for his part in the mob attack on the Capital on January 6th. In a House vote that included ten Republicans voting for impeachment, the Article of Impeachment, entitled Incitement to Insurrection, states that "Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States." He is the only president to be impeached twice. Whether there is a conviction in a Senate trial or not, this becomes part of the official legacy of Trump's presidency. Already, the brand of his name has suffered with businesses withdrawing their association with him. He is banned for life from Twitter and Facebook. Corporations are announcing they will no longer give political donations to politicians who fanned the flames of the insurrection. January 6th and the riot he incited with his big lie that the election was stolen from him, will be added to the pantheon of dates that live in infamy in American history. And it will always have his name on it.
Those of us in the anti-Trump Resistance have been warning about the danger to our democracy from a craven and immoral president for four years, a danger that was compounded exponentially by the Republican Party and right-wing media. It all came to a head in an explosion of hate and violence that was both surprising but also tragically inevitable.
And yet, the insurrection left us stunned and in shock. The first few days after the riot, I was overcome by a deep sense of paralysis. Some of that came from the whiplash of careening from joy to despair in less than 24 hours. In the early hours of January 6th, we celebrated the projected Democratic wins in the Georgia runoff. Then the same day, we mourned the death and destruction at the Capital.
Over time, as more videos were made public, the murderous intent of many of the rioters Trump exhorted to “fight like hell” came into sharper focus. Shock gave way to anger and demands for accountability. As the House Democrats go forward with impeachment, the FBI is arresting rioters around the country and investigations are underway for the massive security failure. This is a fast-moving story, with updates by the hour.
But what of the other insurrectionists, those Republican Party members not named Trump who also incited the rioters by promoting the lie of a stolen election? If not for them using the pro forma event of certifying the electoral college vote as a platform to object to the Biden-Harris win, the “Stop the Steal” rally turned riot probably would not have happened. His GOP enablers gave the lie a legitimacy. Their complicity made it real. Where is the accountability for them?
When I began my journey with the anti-Trump Resistance, after the 2017 Women’s March four years ago – with not one incidence of violence – I learned from Indivisible to focus my activism on my member of Congress (MOC) because direct involvement in my own district would have the greatest impact.
Learning that my MOC, Congressman Lee Zeldin, was one of the 138 Republican House members who objected to the certification was not a surprise. I have followed his slavish devotion to Trump and am aware that he has spent his congressional career, even before Trump, appealing to the most right-wing elements in our district. He was first elected in 2014, ushered in on a Tea Party wave, with a campaign built around a big lie, that his opponent, Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop was under FBI investigation for taking bribes. His “law and order” campaign also included racist dog whistles to white voters about the “danger” to them from the growing undocumented population in the district.
Since Trump, his affiliation with right-wing groups intensified. Throughout the 2020 campaign, Zeldin welcomed the support from two of these pro-Trump groups, the Setauket Patriots and Oath Keepers. There are numerous pictures online of Zeldin with them, accepting their endorsement. This was while there was mounting evidence that these groups were harassing and threatening peaceful protesters and Biden-Harris supporters. Their “Trump 2020” parades of flag-emblazoned cars and trucks always had a threatening tone. Yet, here is a video on Twitter of Zeldin speaking to one of their gatherings and talking about the danger of Democrats in Congress who are just after “scalps.”
These groups were advertising the January 6th rally on their Facebook pages with a quote by Trump that said it would be “wild.” The avowed purpose was to “stop the steal” as Trump and Zeldin continued to push the big lie that the election had been stolen from Trump in massive fraud. Press reports state that the Setauket Patriots sent four busloads of Trump supporters to the rally. Since the riot, Facebook has removed their page. I will not be surprised if there are FBI arrests in our district resulting from their attendance.
After the Capital was attacked, Zeldin issued a statement. “This should never be the scene at the U.S. Capitol. This is not the America we all love. We can debate and we can disagree, even on a January 6th following a Presidential election. We can all passionately love our country, but in our republic, we elect people to represent us to voice our objections in the House and Senate on this day.”
He did not mention his supporters who were at the rally nor did he condemn the insurrection. He also did not apologize for his complicity in the attack. By announcing he would be objecting to the certification of Biden-Harris, he contributed to the riot by first, inflaming the rage of their supporters and then, by directing them to the Capital to stop what they were told was a crime.
Then, that night, when the House returned to their work to certify the electoral votes, he doubled down on the lie that had just fueled the violent assault on our democracy. In a shameful display of tone-deaf opportunism, his four-minute floor speech repeated every right-wing conspiracy about the election. He went so far as to claim that it was his constitutional duty to object to the certification of the electoral votes.
“My constitutional oath is sacred, and I have a duty to speak out about confirmed, evidence-filled issues with the administration of the 2020 presidential election in certain battleground states. Signature verification, ballot observation, voter roll integrity, voter ID requirements and ballot collection protections were weakened on top of the millions of mailboxes that were flooded with unrequested mail-in ballots. Many of my constituents have been outraged and demanding that I voice their objections here today. This debate is necessary because rogue election officials, secretaries of state and courts circumvented state election laws.”
His speech, given AFTER the attack, was a dangerous reiteration of the same false assertions and outright lies that had just triggered the assault on the Capital. And, of course, he omitted that those same accusations about the election had been thrown out of every court in over 60 cases, often by Republican judges, some appointed by Trump. And he hid from the public that each state, even those with Republican governors and election officials, had looked at the charges, recounted votes, checked machines and ratified their electoral votes because there was no evidence of voter fraud.
To read a point-by-point expose of Zeldin’s speech, read the excellent article in the Sag Harbor Express by Brendan J. O’Reilly.
At the end of the article, Mr. O’Reilly sums up his analysis by stating, “Some of Mr. Zeldin’s “facts” were not facts at all. Some may have been accurate but had no bearing on the issue at hand. Others lacked key context. On the whole, he painted a picture of an election rife with irregularities that were never examined or litigated — and that picture is false. Mr. Zeldin urged that votes be guaranteed while criticizing efforts to ensure that citizens may register to vote, vote safely, and be assured their votes cast in good faith were counted.”
Despite his complicity in the insurrection and his continued spreading of lies after the attack, over the weekend Zeldin sent an email out to his constituents that did not acknowledge or apologize for his part in the riot. Instead, it contained a disingenuous call for unity.
We live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. We have big challenges at the moment, real disagreement over important issues, and a precarious future as a republic.
Following Congress' certification of the Electoral College results, on January 20, 2021, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of Delaware, will be sworn in as the next President of the United States, and Kamala D. Harris of California, will be sworn in as the next Vice President of the United States.
For our nation to thrive, we need our economy growing, our national security strong, our freedoms defended, our Constitution protected, and so much more.
Moving forward, there will be continued debate and there will be disagreement, but out of that must be a healthy, guarded and even thriving republic. Right now, I am not going to dwell on any doubt, but to recommit to working towards a vigorous defense of lady liberty at all costs, and the pursuit of unity whenever possible.
I returned home from our nation's Capitol after witnessing firsthand from inside the House chamber on Wednesday the best of America clash with some of the worst of it in a moment of my life I will never forget.
The vandalism and loss of life at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was totally unacceptable and there must be ZERO tolerance for violence in any form!
I love our country and I ask for your prayers tonight for each other, for any hope of unity, for your wisdom, for a peaceful transition of power, for President Trump and Vice President Pence, and for President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris.
For this moment, let's take one collective deep breath, recharge and renew our spirit for whatever lies ahead. We are all Americans first.
It is an honor to represent you in the United States House of Representatives, and I always enjoy hearing your thoughts on issues before Congress and how they affect our communities on Long Island. Please do not ever hesitate to reach out to my office at (631) 289-1097. To receive email updates on this important issue and more, please subscribe to my e-newsletter at zeldin.house.gov.
Member of Congress
But in true Zeldin form, while he was asking for unity on the one hand, he was continuing to spread lies with the other. This was his response on Twitter:
To the Dems and media trying hard to somehow tie Wednesday's shameful acts of violence in the Capitol to the intentions and motivation of tens of millions of other Americans - just stop. It's an incredible double standard when those who failed to condemn violence in Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Kenosha, DC, NY, etc become holier than thou. Or when suddenly, 1/6 objections used by Dems to object to every GOP presidential win in the past generation is now treason. Wed’s violence was terrible, but some people need to take a deep breadth and look in the mirror. Those who committed acts of violence in the Capitol must be held accountable, but Dems and media eager to use Wed to settle political scores would only be dividing our country more.
Both the email call for unity and the Twitter attack on Democrats are as much of a lie as his previous statement and floor speech. They are the typical Zeldin shell game of pretending to be bipartisan while riling up his base with the most inflammatory rhetoric. Right before the election, on October 29th, I published a blog post entitled, The Two Zeldins. https://sites.google.com/view/theresistanceandme/blog?authuser=6#h.ja5whyljmzp5
In it, I wrote:
Just as he did in 2018, Zeldin has taken every opportunity to describe himself during this campaign season as bipartisan. In the two virtual debates with Nanc (Goroff), in his television ads and his mailings, he likes to quote some obscure rating that says he is the “12th most bipartisan member of Congress.” But if you follow his votes on major legislation (not minor bills, like renaming a post office), or listen to his rhetoric on right-wing media or endure a member of his staff screaming at you over the phone, then you know that Zeldin is one of the most partisan Republicans in Congress.
He must count on the fact that the average voter only pays attention right before an election. Since they are not aware of these two, different Zeldins, it is easy to mislead them. Election Zeldin says he reaches across the aisle, supports protections for pre-existing conditions, cares about the environment and works hard to get federal assistance for our district. But throughout the year, Real Zeldin accuses Democrats of being dangerous radical leftists, votes repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), does not support federal regulations including those on the environment and defends every Trump tweet and policy no matter how harmful to the people of his district. Once you learn about the two Zeldins, it is easy to figure out which one is the mirage.
Like Donald Trump, Lee Zeldin’s lies and rhetoric that fueled an insurrection and are stoking right-wing flames, make him a dangerous man. They both need to leave, now. Resistance groups circulated a petition online, to be presented to Speaker Pelosi, requesting the impeachment of Donald Trump and the expulsion of Lee Zeldin from the House, for their part in inciting the insurrection. Indivisible organized rallies for Monday, January 11th under the title: “Never Again” Means Coups Have Consequences.” A protest rally took place in front of Zeldin’s office in Patchogue.
Using the phrase “Never Again” has specific connections to the Holocaust. Trump’s tenure has consistently inspired comparisons with the fall of democracy in Germany and the rise of the Nazis. In my book, The Resistance and Me, Democratic Party leader Robin Long is quoted as comparing the Trump years to Germany in the 1930s. The interview was in 2018, right after the family separation program was revealed:
The point of reference is if we don’t learn from history, we are going to repeat it. And we’ll repeat it in a different form. So, you had the Armenians, a million and a half, and Hitler knew he could get away with killing the Jews because nobody cared about that so we’re going to repeat this…
So, now the question is, what do we say to people, right now, to try to get them to understand that we’re in a very unique time period? Not because I believe we’re going to have concentration camps opening next week, but we have holding camps for women and children. This is the first time. So, this isn’t a thing of Republicans against Democrats, it’s not liberals against conservatives; it isn’t any standard guides that we ever had before. This is not McCain, this is not Bush, this is not Reagan, this isn’t even Nixon. These men, though I didn’t agree with some of their policies, believed in our country with checks and balances as the basis of our democracy. We are at a crossroads now. This is saving our democracy. You cannot attack the press the way he has. You cannot attack the judges, the judiciary the way he has. You cannot be constantly attacking the minority party which is the Democratic Party because all you’re doing is undermining our country. We do not have due process at the border because these people do not have rights. That’s what they said about Jews. That was the beginning.
At the time, some accused her of hyperbole for her comparisons. Few people are calling them hyperbole now. During the riot, the mob threatened reporters. A New York Times photojournalist was harassed and beaten. A CNN crew fled, feeling their lives were endangered as the crowd jeered and harassed them. Associated Press reporters had their equipment smashed. A Capital policeman was beaten to death. Rioters carried the confederate flag and displayed Nazi symbols and messages. Marauding rioters, carrying zip-tie handcuffs, stalked the halls of Congress looking for Pelosi and Pence, chanting “where’s Nancy?” and “hang Mike Pence.”
Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, born in Austria right after World War II, posted a video statement comparing the attack on the Capital to the 1938 attack on the Jews. In his statement he condemned Trump and all of the GOP enablers for their complicity. “I grew up in Austria. I’m very aware of Kristallnacht, or ‘the Night of Broken Glass.’ It was a night of rampage against the Jews in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_P-0I6sAck
Zeldin’s complicity to this insurrection did not begin with the big lie about the stolen election. It has been there for four years. The Holocaust also teaches us lessons about long-term complicity. A famous quote, attributed to Martin Niemoeller, personalizes the complicity of silence that led to the genocide of European Jews by the Nazis. If you are not familiar with this powerful statement, read it here: https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/martin-niemoeller-first-they-came-for-the-socialists
If Zeldin had one ounce of decency, he would apologize for his short and long-term complicity and resign. I have taken the liberty of writing the speech for him, the speech he should be giving but will probably not. My appropriation of Niemoeller’s quote is not to diminish its specific significance to the Holocaust. Quite the contrary. It is to elevate the seriousness of Zeldin’s complicity in Trump’s four-year attack on our democracy and the riot that resulted from it.
First Trump came for Mexicans calling them criminals and rapists, and I did not speak out – because I am not Mexican.
Then he came for Muslim immigrants with the Muslim ban, and I did not speak out – because I am not Muslim.
Then he came for African Americans threatened by white nationalists at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and I did not speak out - because I am not African American.
Then he came for migrant children seeking asylum, separating them from their parents and putting them in cages, and I did not speak out – because they aren’t my children.
Then he came for the LGBTQ community, seeking to reverse legal protections from the Obama administration, and I did not speak out – because they aren’t my voters.
Then he came for reporters from CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other legitimate news outlets, calling them the “enemy of the people” and I did not speak out – because I would have been kicked off Fox News.
Then he came for the intelligence officers who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, and I did not speak out – because I feared a primary challenge.
Then he came for the ambassadors and whistleblowers on the Ukraine quid pro quo scandal, and I did not speak out – because I loved the media attention I got from defending Trump on impeachment.
Then he came for the scientists trying to warn us about COVID, and I did not speak out – because I was too busy defending Trump on impeachment.
Then he came for the Black Lives Matter protesters, tear gassing them so he could hold up a Bible at a photo-op, and I did not speak out – because Setauket Patriots wouldn’t have endorsed me.
Then he came for the Governor of Michigan, and I did not speak out – because riling up the mob in a battleground state would help suppress Democratic voters.
Then he came for the United States Postal Service workers and I did not speak out – because it was mostly Democrats who wanted to vote by mail.
Then he came for state election officials doing their job administering a free and fair election, and I did not speak out – because ambition was more important to me than truth or democracy.
Then he unleashed hell on Congress, endangering all of us. For my complicity in this act of violent sedition and my silence leading up to it, I must resign.