Fischbach joins local lawmakers in condemning violence
MARSHALL — Area legislators and local political party officials were united in condemning the actions of protesters who stormed into the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.
“There is no room for violence, no matter what your group,” said Minnesota state Rep. Chris Swedzinski on Thursday.
“I believe in the right of people to peacefully protest,” said Sen. Gary Dahms. “But I think what happened yesterday, that got out of hand.”
But while officials emphasized that the violence was unacceptable, there were still questions about how Americans could move forward.
U.S. Rep. Michelle Fischbach, who represents western Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District, issued a statement Wednesday that she planned to vote for the objections to certifying electoral votes in some contested states. But while Fischbach said the election “was shrouded in allegations of irregularities and fraud too voluminous to ignore,” she also later spoke out on social media against Wednesday’s violence.
“Respectful disagreement is fundamental to our democracy. The violence that we’re seeing, especially toward law enforcement, is unacceptable,” Fischbach said in a post on her Facebook page.
Leaders of Lyon County political groups also spoke out against the riot at the Capitol.
“I am appalled at what can only be described as an insurrection. It makes me fearful for our democracy,” said Anita Gaul, chairperson of the Lyon County DFL.
“It was really sad,” said Lyon County Republicans co-chair Debbie Clark. “Hopefully they can get to the bottom of it.”
Wednesday’s riot could also have an impact on President Donald Trump, and on the final weeks of his term. Earlier on Wednesday, Trump spoke at a Washington rally where he falsely claimed he won the 2020 presidential election. Critics have said Trump’s actions helped stoke violence at the Capitol.
After the incident at the Capitol, “The members of Mr. Trump’s administration are sending him powerful signals,” said David Sturrock, political science professor at Southwest Minnesota State University. Those signals include multiple members of the administration resigning, the Departments of Defense and Justice having direct contacts with Vice President Mike Pence, and cabinet discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, Sturrock said.
“If he wants to stay through the end of his term he needs to regain the confidence of his administration, his party’s leadership in Congress, and the public,” Sturrock said. “He should accept responsibility for his actions Wednesday, acknowledge why the country is shocked and repulsed, and sincerely commit to a full, competent and timely transition to the new administration.”
Thursday evening, after Sturrock made those remarks, Trump conceded the election to President-elect Joe Biden during a released video.
Legislators and area residents had some different ideas about how the country could move forward. Dahms and Swedzinski said we should pay attention to the concerns many Americans had about preventing election fraud. Each state will have to look at its own voting rules and statutes, Dahms said.
Swedzinski said he would like to see voter ID laws across the country. The U.S. could also look at how other countries have worked to prevent election fraud, he said.
Clark agreed that it was important to address election concerns.
“We need to feel we have honest and fair elections,” she said. “I feel here in Lyon County we have good election integrity,” but it’s not the same everywhere in the country, she said.
Both Dahms and Swedzinski said the frustrations people were voicing about the election weren’t a new problem. “This was festering and boiling for a long time,” Dahms said.
“We need to be looking at ways to heal divisions,” Swedzinski said. “There is just a lot of hurt.”
Dana Moore, vice-chairperson of the Lyon County DFL, also said Americans could also work to bridge divisions among themselves.
“Perhaps one place to start is to encourage people to get off social media. We all seem to be in our own echo chambers,” Moore said. “We need to challenge ourselves to read more books, to read something from a different perspective. Perhaps it will help us stop seeing each other as the enemy.”