It was a dark day on Jan. 6 as Congress planned to confirm the Electoral College vote for the next president. Around 1 p.m. a group of pro-Trump protesters pushed their way into the Capitol building, disrupting the official count as Congress was forced into lock down. The issue at hand was the President’s claims of voter fraud and a stolen election.
This was by no means the first contested election in the U.S. The 1800 and 1824 elections were both decided in Congress. The 1876 and 2000 elections were both decided in the courts. Let’s also not forget the South seceded from the nation in 1860 because of Lincoln’s election. In fact, in 2001, 2005 and 2017 some Democrats protested the final confirmation vote the same way some Republicans did this year. In these cases, the Vice Presidents acted like Mike Pence this year and did their duty and confirmed the vote even with political pressure not to do so.
The differences between this current election and the past ones were that the controversies did not involve a sitting president. They were always between two new candidates. 1800 did have an incumbent president in the race, but the controversy was between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Trump is the first sitting president to contest his defeat. The other more important difference was those election controversies were all handled peacefully, except 1860. Yes, there have been many protests over elections, but trying to take the Capitol to obstruct the vote is unprecedented.
There have been other elections with fraud claims, most recently, the 2016 election that Democrats claimed foul because of Russian influence. Yet, the one I think is important because of the behavior of the candidates is not remembered today as controversial but at the time was called out by many as fraudulent.
Today, when discussing the 1960 election, most think of the young charismatic John F. Kennedy manhandling and crushing the much older Richard Nixon in the first televised debates. I would argue this is a false memory. For one, Nixon was only four years older than Kennedy and, two, this was one of the closest elections in history. The closeness of the election meant that several states were swing states and just one or two of them going the other way meant a difference in the president.
Two of the states that could have gone either direction were Texas and Illinois. Both ultimately voted for JFK, but not without some controversy. In Texas it was claimed that JFK’s V.P., Lyndon Johnson, used undue influence and fraud to guarantee a Democratic win. Yet it was Illinois that captured the nation’s attention, especially the mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley. Daley is one of the men credited with the quote, “Vote early and vote often.” On election night, he called JFK to tell him basically that, with a little luck and some help from some friends, he would win the state. Daley was a mayor either loved or despised, depending on your political leaning, but no one questioned his power over the city and even the state. Daley was rumored to be involved in ballot stuffing, especially in Cook County, that turned the state towards Kennedy.
The cries of corruption were minimal on election night and ultimately JFK was the victor. It was after the election that the rumors began to build. The man more than any other who began to beat the drum of fraud was a reporter and friend of Nixon, Earl Mazo. He began to investigate the rumors and wrote a series of articles detailing his evidence. He had found graveyards in Chicago where all the permanent residences had voted. The story that most stuck out was the 56 voters whose residences all turned out to be the same abandoned house. Yet as interesting as these stories were, most were never published at the insistence of Nixon.
Nixon asked his friend to stop running the stories. His request was not because he felt they were untrue. In fact, Nixon, for the rest of his life, privately insisted the election was stolen from him, and many from his administration insisted they had evidence of fraud. What Nixon believed, however, was that in the midst of the Cold War his nation could not afford a challenge to democracy. Recounts were requested, but after a couple of legal challenges failed, Nixon did what was best for the nation and stepped aside. It was Nixon’s job as sitting Vice President to confirm the votes for Kennedy in the same ceremony that was interrupted Jan. 6 with Pence. Nixon did what Trump could not. Whether or not there was fraud, Nixon believed there was. But he put his ego aside for the good of the nation and did not resist.
While all of Trump’s court challenges were completely legal, almost all of them were found by several courts to be without merit. We have seen similar actions in many elections. Where Trump will be remembered with infamy was his refusal to accept the outcome even after the courts rejected him. The difference may be this: eight years later Nixon ran a second time and won. However, after Jan. 6, even Trump’s staunchest supporters turned on him, making any effort for a second run obsolete.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog
Thoughts regarding the decision to change the name of LFCC
The Letter to the Editor from Tenia Smith last week regarding the decision to change the name of Lord Fairfax Community College was an accurate assessment of the way things seems to be in this country these days.
I would add another reason that this decision is a frivolous attempt to amend history to make a segment of our community feel better. What we actually have here shows a complete out-of-historical context ignorance: that’s looking at historical figures and events through the context of the 21st Century, not through the context of the life and times in which these personalities lived and the events took place. Such individuals who view history through our present day vision will never understand the people and events of our past.
Hence, the burning need to revise our history to make it much more palatable.
Some people, even those in the business of education, will never understand the personalities and events of the past, and, in their ignorance, the discussions and decisions illustrate quite well that they aren’t really interested.
In fairness to Lord Fairfax, whose holdings in the 18th Century comprised what is now most of 22 states, much of what he accomplished in his life shaped early America and Virginia that we know and enjoy today. Regarding the decision to rename the school, their focus is on the way the world lived in the 1600s, the 1700s, and a good part of the 1800s. In no way am I condoning nor supporting the institution of slavery; right or wrong, it was an accepted practice in many countries, and still remains a practice in a number of countries in the 21st Century.
If these “educators” and politicians behind the name change refuse to permit the name of Thomas Lord Fairfax to remain intact on the college, then I would strongly recommend that they also not allow the Stars & Stripes to fly over LFCC. After all, and this also cannot be refuted, it was the symbol of a slave nation from 1787 to December 1865.
Response to Tom Howarth’s Letters to the Editor
I will say just one thing to Tom Howarth, who has submitted many Letters to the Editor of the Royal Examiner: “Stop crying wolf!”
When you write so many letters, and so frequently, people (myself, included) just tune you out!
Your letters are too predictably partisan.
Front Royal, Virginia
Our trust in the voting process will be forever challenged unless we the people take control of our voting rights
In response to Tom Howarth’s letter to the editor on February 17th:
Mr. Howarth, I watched the trial, which by the way was unconstitutional and so full of hate against a man that no longer was in office.
When it came down to calling witnesses or not, the Democrats called a halt to it by acquitting former President Donald J. Trump! Why, Mr. Howarth? Was it because of who the Republicans could call as witnesses?
Mr. Trump’s lawyers did a great job of bringing out the truth. But Democrats didn’t want the real reason to be brought out on this second impeachment trial, which was the reason for everything coming to a halt! For who really was the people causing insurrection and destruction last summer and for the last 4 years?
No doubt in my mind the election wasn’t held right. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, our voting rights were tampered with and changed without going through the electoral process.
I could accept Biden’s win if it was done fair and square, but it wasn’t! And now our trust in the voting process will be forever challenged unless we the people take control of our voting rights.
Front Royal, Virginia
Open Letter to Town and County officials on county’s high death rate per reported COVID cases
Greetings Community Leader,
As the Front Royal Town Council members spend valuable work time in meetings discussing whether business owners should be allowed to require customers to wear masks to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in our community, I am interested in finding out why people in Warren County die from the virus at a rate so much higher than people in most nearby counties. I’m sure this data has concerned you as a community leader as much, if not more, as it has me as a citizen. I am one concerned member of our community while you are a community leader tasked with finding solutions to the problems that plague our whole community. Surely, understanding the high death rate from Coronavirus in Warren County/Front Royal has been a pressing matter on your list of priorities.
Has your research shown that our high death rate is due to a poor health care system in our community? Is it because of the overall poor health of our residents? Is it something else? Please let the citizens of Front Royal and Warren County know what you have learned about why we are dying from COVID-19 more often than our neighbors in eleven nearby counties. The following data for Deaths per 100K people are from the Virginia Department of Health’s website on February 19, 2021:
|County||Deaths per 100K|
|Cases – Coronavirus
Need vaccine? Learn how to get your shot at Vaccinate.Virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA. Language translation and TTY services available. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ¿Necesita vacunarse?
I look forward to hearing why you think we are doing so poorly and what ideas you have to prevent so many of our fellow citizens from dying of Covid.
Wishing you all good health,
Front Royal, Va.
(reprinted by permission of writer)
What’s really in a name?
Lord Fairfax Community College has decided to change its name because it does not reflect who they are? Really? I thought it was a place of higher learning and opportunities!
I don’t like the name of Fauquier County. I don’t like the name Henry. I don’t like the color green! I don’t like to make mashed potatoes. But I don’t take this to the city council, or the board, or even D.C.!
This all has become so political! What are the bases of all of this? Why not just erase everything!
No one has names: No names on buildings, no names on highways, no names on envelopes, no names on anything? Why not walk around nameless and act like zombies!
We humans can’t seem to focus on the important things, like being kind and caring and making our futures better! Like helping others and looking out for one another. All we seem to be about nowadays is hate, anger, and destruction.
What a sad place the world has become; what a sad place our country has become! The more we seek peace, the more uproar of evil becomes!
Front Royal, Virginia
Sure Representative Ben Cline wants to move past January 6th accountability
Rep. Ben Cline opines that Congressional Democrats and presumably Republicans who voted to impeach and convict Donald Trump were wasting time.
Donald Trump was impeached for his role in instigating the insurrection and attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. He was acquitted in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 57 to 43. He got the 43. Try that in baseball.
Mr. Cline is anxious to get on with business and well he should be.
Why did the president urge his followers to go to the Capitol that day? He made it quite clear that he wanted them to go in support of those Members of Congress who were supporting his claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him and them.
The story of a stolen election was the Big Lie. The election was not stolen. There is no evidence that it was. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader, made that clear after the acquittal of the former President on February 13.
Senator McConnell blamed the former president and “other powerful people” for perpetuating the Big Lie. Now, who were those “other powerful people?” Why they were Members of Congress of course who continued to spread the Big Lie. Who is on the list of Members of Congress who told the people that if they could just find the votes to overturn the certification of the Electoral College votes all would be well?
Rep. Ben Cline is on the list.
Mr. Cline knew full well that the votes were not there to require a reshuffling of the electoral deck. He knew his encouragement of the insurrectionists would only end in their frustration and anger, the anger that was on display on January 6.
Why did Ben Cline do this? Because he wanted to provide Trump supporters in the 6th District with an empty gesture proving his fealty to the former president.
Even after he saw the anger that resulted in the death of a police officer and others in the Capitol, Ben Cline marched down to the floor of the House and perpetuated the Big Lie one more time.
It is small wonder that Ben Cline wants to change the subject.
Mr. Cline thinks the effort to hold responsible those who instigated the attack on the Capitol is a waste of time. He wants people to look away from him.
Warren County, Virginia